From February 2016: “I just don’t think people recognize how difficult it is to pull off what they’ve pulled off. “
A little less then a year ago, when I talked to Michael Lynton onstage at Recode’s Code Media conference, he was the guy who ran Sony’s giant entertainment unit — movies, music and TV — who also had an inside line on Snapchat, where he was a board member, and a very early investor.
Now Lynton is leaving Sony, and will concentrate full time on Snapchat — now, Snap — as the chairman of the company’s board.
Given that Snap is prepping for an IPO, it’s worth revisiting our portion of the conversation about that company, Lynton’s relationship with CEO Evan Spiegel, and Snap’s ambitions in the media world.
So here you go, but first a plug: If you you want to see more of these conversations, we’re happy to oblige, at next month’s edition of Code Media, where we’ll be hearing from the likes of Apple’s Eddy Cue and Washington Post editor Marty Baron. Sign up here, and we’ll see you there.
Peter Kafka: So you’ve been on the board for a while. You’ve watched the company mature. You’ve watched Evan Spiegel mature. First of all, what change have you seen in him over the last couple of years you’ve been on the board?
Michael Lynton: I think he has become what you would imagine him to become. A much more mature executive. He really has studied it hard. Running a company. And I think he’s gotten better and better at it. The one thing that’s remained a constant, which I think is reflected in the product, is he is a terrific product designer and innovator. And the company has continued, in my opinion, to deliver great new applications of Snapchat. On a very, very regular basis.
When he had that $3 billion offer, were you counseling him to take it? ’Cause it was a lot of money for someone who was 24 or 25 at the time.
It was really his decision. It was really his and Bobby Murphy’s decision.
What kind of counsel do you offer? What kind of counsel do they want from you? What are the things of value that you —
They really want to talk about their part of it as they look out at the media landscape, where should they fit in — the music business, the movie business, the television business — both in terms of a platform to promote, but as well as how they themselves should be delivering content. A lot of it, though, is around management. A lot of it is, you know, the organization has grown really quickly, and they need to try and understand how to organize all the conventional departments you have within a company, and that’s one of the areas where I can be helpful.
Back to the media part of it. Right now, Snapchat’s the place where I go to create my own content, or my kids would go to create their own content. And then you’ve got a bunch of publishers who are interested in