Snapchat’s redesign was meant for your friends, and celebrities aren’t your friends, says CEO Evan Spiegel

Kylie Jenner doesn’t like the Snapchat redesign — but Snap didn’t change things for her.

Kylie Jenner isn’t happy with Snapchat’s redesign. That probably means it’s working.

Jenner, a member of the insanely popular Kardashian family, tweeted to her 24.5 million followers on Wednesday afternoon that she was no longer opening Snapchat. Bloomberg says Jenner’s tweet, which was “Liked” more than 327,000 times, cost Snap $ 1.3 billion in market value.

It looks like a terrible, unintended consequence of Snapchat’s latest redesign, which started rolling out this month in the U.S. and has very few fans.

But Jenner’s response to the redesign might not be a side effect at all. In fact, based on comments from Snap CEO Evan Spiegel last week, it sounds like the redesign is working exactly as planned.

Here’s what Spiegel said at the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference last week in San Francisco, explaining how Snapchat is using algorithms and separate sections of the app to create a division between content from your friends and content from publishers and celebrities.

“Even some of the complaints we’re seeing reinforce the philosophy. So for example, one of the complaints we got was, ‘Wow, I used to feel like this celebrity was my friend and now they don’t feel like my friend anymore.’ And we’re like, ‘Exactly. They’re not your friend!’ … So for us, even some of the frustrations we’re seeing really validate those changes.”

Jenner doesn’t explicitly say in her tweet why she’s no longer opening the Snapchat app, though we assume it’s because she doesn’t like the redesign. But like the rest of the Kardashian clan, Jenner is a businesswoman who has used the app with tremendous success to help sell her line of beauty products. It’s entirely possible she says she doesn’t like opening the app because she’s seeing that fewer people are seeing her posts. Maybelline, another beauty brand on Snapchat, posted on Thursday that its Snapchat views had “dropped dramatically” since the redesign. (It then deleted the tweet.)

Jenner followed up her first tweet criticizing Snapchat with one expressing her love for it, though that one got a lot fewer “Likes.”

The point is, Snapchat is making a big bet that users want to hear more from their friends than from celebrities like Jenner or brands like Maybelline. Or at the very least, they want to separate most of those interactions into two different parts of the app. It’s not a crazy idea. Facebook just changed its News Feed algorithm to achieve the same goal. And Instagram realized a few years back that it needed to try and find ways to help users see more from friends and less from brands.

Is it good for Snapchat if Jenner abandons the platform? Of course not. It’s possible her massive following will go with her, and, at the very least, a stock hit is the last thing Snap needs after reporting its first positive quarter ever just a few weeks ago.

But there must be a reason these tech companies keep coming back to prioritizing friend-to-friend interactions. It’s possible that seeing less from Jenner now is better for Snap in the long run. We probably won’t know for months if Snap’s gamble pays off. But it’s worth remembering that while Jenner’s frustration clearly surprised a lot of investors, it probably didn’t surprise Evan Spiegel.


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