Snapchat rejects the claim that CEO Evan Spiegel did not want to expand into ‘poor India’

New Delhi, April 17: Image messaging and multimedia mobile application Snapchat is facing a public relations crisis in India, the world’s fastest growing smartphone market, after allegations its founder Evan Spiegel said the app was “only for rich people” and that he did not want to “expand into poor countries like India”.

The remarks, allegedly made by Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel in a 2015 meeting, are contained in a recently unsealed complaint by Anthony Pompliano, a former employee of Snap Inc, an American multinational technology, and social media company and also the parent company of Snapchat.

Anthony Pompliano, who was fired after working for the social media company for 3 weeks in 2015, is suing Snap Inc in a Californian court for trying to “destroy his career and reputation”.

The complaint was unsealed last week, revealing an allegation that Evan Spiegel, the company’s CEO, once told Anthony Pompliano he had no interest in expanding Snapchat into poor countries like India and Spain.
“This application is only for rich people,” according to the lawsuit Evan Spiegel said. “I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.”

Snapchat, which has about 40 lakh users in India, has called the allegations “ridiculous”. “Obviously Snapchat is for everyone. It’s available worldwide to download for free,” the company said in a statement.

But that denial failed to blunt the anger of many Indians on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, where the hashtags #BoycottSnapchat and #Uninstall Snapchat were trending at the weekend.

The platform’s rating in the Apple store has also fallen to one star after poor reviews.

On the meanwhile, similarly named Indian e-commerce company, Snapdeal, appeared to be caught in the crossfire, its founder having to post on Twitter on Sunday that it was a different company and had no association with Evan Spiegel’s alleged remarks.

India is an explodable market for online businesses with about 432 million internet users and another 750 million people yet to be connected.

In January, Amazon moved quickly to pull a set of doormats depicting the Indian flag from its Canadian store after the country’s foreign secretary, Sushma Swaraj, threatened to revoke the visas of company employees.

Like Amazon, Uber is fighting off fierce local competition, some of who are arguing for protectionist measures to be enforced against the American companies.