Is Snapchat 'Only for Rich People?' -- Tech Roundup

Is Snap's (SNAP) Snapchat "only for rich people," not for users in "poor countries like India and Spain?" According to some reports, that's what Snap CEO Evan Spiegel had said in the past, despite the company denying those reports. 

Those reports were mentioned in a previous story on TheStreet. From that same story:

"The comments were made public by former employee Anthony Pompliano who is suing the company, claiming he was fired for raising concerns about misleading investors when Snap first went public. 

Pompliano said he told Spiegel that Snapchat's international user metrics were 'very low,' and suggested ways to accelerate growth in those areas. The complaint alleges Spiegel interrupted him, saying 'this app is only for rich people. I don't want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.'" 

As a result, it's not too surprising to hear the calls for users to boycott the app and uninstall it. Similar protests have erupted over Uber and its string of PR nightmares throughout 2017. 

While it's unclear whether this will actually impact the company's active user base, it's not a good look for a company that so recently went public. Notably though, the app's rating has taken in a hit in certain app stores. 

Snapchat's response? "This is ridiculous. Obviously Snapchat is for everyone. It's available worldwide to download for free."

Shares of Snap closed at $19.94 Monday, down 1.2%. 


The self-driving car theme remains alive and well -- and it's not just for tech companies. Although, don't tell General Motors (GM) that. The Detroit-based automaker plans to invest another $14 million into Cruise Automation, the self-driving research facility it acquired in San Francisco. 

The plan includes hiring 1,100 employees to continue building out the developments it has made in this arena. It also calls for doubling the size of the current facility in the area.

GM CEO Mary Barra is obviously behind the self-driving car movement too. "Self-driving technology holds enormous benefits to society in the form of increased safety and access to transportation," she said in the company's press release. 

Some investors might be wondering why Ford (F) and GM continue working on this technology in Silicon Valley when they are based in Michigan. The answer is simple, really. Since self-driving technology is so reliant on programming and technological expertise, the automakers know they'll have an easier time attracting top talent in the Bay area rather than in Michigan. 

Shares of General Motors closed at $33.90 Monday, up 1.5%


Are hotels conspiring against Airbnb? According to recent reports, it may seem that way. An excerpt from SiliconBeat sums it up best:

"The New York Times on Sunday revealed an intense, multifaceted campaign by the country's major hotel trade group to promote anti-Airbnb legislation on the state and federal level, aggressively push for investigations into Airbnbs that violate local ordinances, and generally turn public sentiment against the home-sharing company."

These documents were obtained through the American Hotel and Lodging Association. 

Hotels' frustration with Airbnb is understandable. While hotel visits are still trusted and used by millions, younger customers have also begun using Airbnb for plenty of their journeys, whether business or pleasure. 

Renting a home or condo makes life feel a bit more "normal," having access to a more a homely stay. Airbnb and hotels each have their pros and cons, but one thing is simple: Airbnb takes away customers from hotels.

While that doesn't necessarily validate this anti-Airbnb campaign, it does explain it. Airbnb has taken decades to grow either. Its emergence has really been felt over just the past few years. Airbnb boasts a valuation north of $30 billion, according to its most recent funding rounds. 

The hotel association defended itself, saying it's not about the profits per se. Instead, it's to create a level playing field and trying to make sure Airbnb plays by the same rules they have to abide by. 

It also goes to show that while technology can make our lives better -- Uber, Airbnb, self-driving cars, etc. -- it can also make legislation a tricky road to navigate.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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