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Snap's internal metrics leak

It feels like a make-or-break year for Snap, Inc., but tracking the company's performance day to day
January 9 · Issue #59 · View online
The Interface
It feels like a make-or-break year for Snap, Inc., but tracking the company’s performance day to day can be a challenge. We know that user growth has stalled and that the company spends way more than it makes. But how is the company’s audience actually using the product? Do features like Snap Maps and Discover breed more loyal users? Are people spending more time with Snapchat as the months go on? 
Until now, we’ve only had the company’s quarterly statements to go on. Then today Taylor Lorenz got her hands on a trove of internal metrics, showing daily usage of various Snapchat features from April through September of last year. The entire document dump can be found at Scribd, and I imagine anyone who builds social products will be poring over it for months to come.
My post at The Verge laid out my thinking around these numbers, which is that they illustrate why Snapchat needed a redesign.
The data obtained by the Daily Beast offer a rare look inside Snap’s effort to build a lasting business around its core chat function. It is not the first company to learn that messaging apps generate loyalty but not necessarily revenue — last year Mark Zuckerberg admitted that efforts to monetize Facebook Messenger through advertising had gone slower than expected.
The data also illustrate some of the reasoning behind Snap’s redesign, which has rolled out to a very small percentage of users after being announced in November. Bringing friends’ stories and snaps into the same place for the first time could expand the amount of advertising Snap is able to deliver in the core messaging section of the app. And putting maps into the Discover section, which will also feature individual creators as well as big publishers for the first time, could give people another reason to check it out. (They’ll see ads there, as well.)
But while Lorenz’s story focuses on low morale at the company, the numbers largely track with Snap’s public statements about its business. People are sending more snaps over time — both in the aggregate and per user — and are even spending more time with Discover, whose lurid tabloid aesthetic I have always found distasteful. The company believes that the redesign will both improve the product and provide more valuable surfaces for advertising, which could draw new users while also helping the company slow its cash burn.
There are still plenty of causes for concern about Snap — I laid out several of them on Friday. But given the scope of the data leak, it’s remarkable how little panic the numbers seemed to cause. There may be more good conclusions to draw in them than bad. Investors seemed to agree; Snap stock was up slightly on the day.

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