Did they think no one would notice?
Both Snapchat and Tinder quietly published embarrassing press releases during last week’s Apple event.
While Apple CEO Tim Cook was kicking off the launch of the iPhone 6, Apple Pay and Apple Watch, Snapchat and Tinder tried to sneakily resolve the controversies that have been plaguing them.
Tinder, a location-based matchmaking app popular on college campus and growing rapidly, has been dealing with serious accusations of sexual harassment made by one of the app’s ousted co-founders.
Back in July news broke that female co-founder Whitney Wolfe was suing Tinder, its owner IAC (Nasdaq: IACI) and several individuals for sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, among other things.
Besides insisting that her label as a co-founder made “the company seem like a joke” because she is young and female, Wolfe alleged that both the CEO and Chief Marketing Officer created a hostile workplace for her after a relationship with the Chief Marketing Officer went sour.
Tinder used the Apple event as an opportunity to announced that it had settled the lawsuit brought by Wolfe and that co-founder Jason Mateen – the Chief Marketing Officer – has resigned. CEO Sean Rad appears to have survived the scandal.
Though the resolution ousted one of Tinder’s top executives and undoubtedly resulted in a significant settlement for Wolfe, the timing of the announcement kept it off of the front pages and mostly out of mind.
The whole episode is certainly a black mark for the company and its culture, as the settlement, the ouster of Mateen and the leaked evidence all but confirm the validity of the allegations.
It’s a similar tale of PR genius for Snapchat.
At exactly the same moment that the Apple event was beginning, Snapchat also announced that it had settled a lawsuit between it and one of the company’s ousted cofounders.
The lawsuit alleged that Reggie Brown cofounded Snapchat with fraternity brothers and fellow Stanford Students Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy but was then forced out of the company. In bringing the lawsuit Brown argued that it was originally his idea for a way to send messages that are automatically deleted.
Though the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, Brown had been seeking a one-third stake in the company. Just a couple weeks ago a fresh investment of $20 million from a venture capital fund valued Snapchat around $10 billion. The company reportedly rejected a $3 billion offer from Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) at the start of this year and had been valued at $2 billion just weeks before.
Maybe Snapchat and Tinder hired the same PR firm.
Hiding these announcements behind the Apple event may have kept them from making major headlines that day but it certainly didn’t keep people from finding out. That said, both companies appear to have put these scandals behind them and can now get back to the business of their businesses.
Tinder and Snapchat are two of the highest-profile and most-used apps without a clear model for monetization. With these scandals in the rearview mirror the companies appear ready to barrel down the road towards monetization and profitability.
How the iPhone 6 unveiling impacts mobile
Tim Cook wrote, “iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus — which are the biggest advancements in iPhone history…” after unveiling the most technologically advanced phone on the planet with cautious estimates have them selling 200 million of them. While we love Apple, we’re recommending a much less known company today…a company no one is talking about. A company that provides the technology, without which, smartphones couldn’t exist.