Snapchat's Ladder: How One Life Hack From A Self-Made Billionaire Leads To Exceptional Success


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 23, 2023

4 min read


Snapchat's Ladder: How One Life Hack From A Self-Made Billionaire Leads To Exceptional Success

In today's digital age, messaging has become an integral part of our lives. We crave human interaction and affection, and messaging allows us to connect with those who matter most to us, anytime and anywhere. This makes messaging incredibly valuable, as attention is the only scarce resource in a world of infinite content and zero distribution costs.

However, the challenge of launching a messaging service in the United States is that text messaging has long been free. It is difficult to change people's habits, let alone get a critical mass of people to change at the same time. This is why WhatsApp was able to become the fastest growing social network of all time by offering free text messaging as people were getting their first smartphones.

Snapchat, on the other hand, took a different approach. They introduced disappearing messages and made the primary means of communication a picture, often a selfie. This appealed to teens who were wary of their messages being monitored by parents, admissions officers, employers, and others. By offering a more authentic and private way to communicate, Snapchat gained popularity among younger users.

Similar to Snapchat, Netflix also found success by offering something different from the established incumbents. They started by using freely available DVDs and offered no due dates and a massive selection. This built up their user base and brand recognition, which they then leveraged to acquire streaming rights. This model was orthogonal to linear television networks and allowed Netflix to disrupt the industry.

Snapchat further expanded its offerings with the introduction of Stories. These user-generated "shows" required users to use the app daily to not miss out. Stories provided a more passive consumption experience compared to reactive chats. Additionally, the use of mobile devices, which occupy all available time around intent, made consuming Stories more natural.

Discover was another feature that capitalized on the benefits of Stories. It provided a way to occupy even more attention and served as a natural advertising vehicle. Professional content was associated with professional ads, allowing Snapchat to experiment with brand advertising and monetize its platform further.

Stickers also played a significant role in Snapchat's success. Beyond direct sales, stickers offered the potential for sponsored stickers, where advertisers could sponsor free sticker packs. This created a direct marketing channel and expanded the service's monetization potential. LINE, a messaging app, made millions from sponsored stickers, demonstrating the effectiveness of this strategy.

Snapchat's journey to success can be attributed to its ability to deliver compelling products and its commitment to its advertising business. CEO Mark Zuckerberg's leadership has been exemplary, as he has surrounded himself with experienced executives and continuously learns and grows in areas where he has no experience. This commitment to growth and innovation has contributed to Facebook's success as well.

One life hack from a self-made billionaire that can lead to exceptional success is becoming an expert-generalist. This means acquiring expertise in various disciplines, industries, skills, capabilities, countries, and topics. An expert-generalist sees the world more accurately, makes better predictions of the future, has more breakthrough ideas, and builds open networks.

To become an expert-generalist, one must learn multiple models from multiple disciplines. Wisdom is not confined to one academic department, so it is essential to broaden one's knowledge across different fields. Focusing on big ideas from the big disciplines is also crucial, as 20% of models create 80% of the results. Creating checklists and using the right one for each situation ensures that the right models are factored in.

Albert Einstein provides a perfect example of the power of being an expert-generalist. Despite being trained in physics, he taught himself an area of mathematics, Riemannian geometry, to formulate his law of general relativity. This ability to bridge disciplines and see connections that others miss is highly valuable in today's knowledge-driven world.

In conclusion, Snapchat's success can be attributed to its ability to offer something different from the established incumbents and its commitment to innovation. By providing disappearing messages, user-generated Stories, Discover, and stickers, Snapchat captured the attention and loyalty of its users. Additionally, the concept of becoming an expert-generalist, as exemplified by a self-made billionaire, can lead to exceptional success by broadening one's knowledge across multiple disciplines and making connections that others miss.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace innovation and offer something different from the competition. Look for ways to disrupt established industries and provide unique value to your target audience.
  • 2. Continuously learn and grow in areas where you have no experience. Surround yourself with experienced executives and seek knowledge from various disciplines. This will help you see the world more accurately and make better predictions of the future.
  • 3. Build open networks and bridge the gaps between silos. As the amount of knowledge in the world continues to increase and fragment, those who can connect different groups and disciplines will become invaluable. Emphasize curiosity and the pursuit of diverse knowledge.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)