Snapchat appeals to teens because it's fun. It's new. It doesn't have ads. But if Snapchat sells itself or goes public, those things that people love about it will disappear. It will become something else, something less organic and more corporate. The reason why Facebook is losing teens' attention—losing its ubiquity—is the same reason why the next wave of teens won't use Snapchat, if the service continues to grow.
Spiegel could prove wrong every doubter who says that his best bet is to take Facebook's money and run. Maybe Snapchat will launch a successful sticker business and rival other powerhouse messaging apps such as Line. Maybe kids won't care when brands hop on the service en masse and start trying to sell them stuff. But if anyone is betting on Snapchat to become a billion-dollar company just because it's popular with teens, well, I have one question: Do teens today remember Tom? I know I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing no.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.