Legal Lessons Learned from Snapchat

If you’re launching a startup, it’s so important to learn from others mistakes to not only prevent yourself from going down the same path, but also save yourself a lot of wasted time, money and energy. Snapchat has encountered some legal woes of its own over the years and here’s what you can learn:

Get a Founder’s Agreement in place as soon as possible. Founder disputes are the norm, not the exception, and many disputes could have been avoided had the founder’s hashed out a Founder’s Agreement in the beginning. In Snapchat’s case, a third co-founder filed a lawsuit after Snapchat received funding claiming he came up with the idea for the app and was forced out of the company. He was seeking millions of dollars and ended up settling for an undisclosed amount. Had the Snapchat founders gotten their intentions, responsibilities and expectations documented early on, it may have very well prevented this debacle from happening in the first place.

Make sure you’re telling users how you’re using their information. Snapchat allegedly transmitted geo-location information from its users despite its claim that it did not access or track geo-location information. Snapchat also allegedly collected its users address book contacts without consent or notice. The US Federal Trade Commission stated that Snapchat ‘deceived consumers’ not only in relation to the disappearing nature of the messages sent through the app, but also regarding the amount of personal data it collected and related security measures. Snapchat has since revised their privacy policy in an effort to be more transparent with its users. It’s important to be open and honest with your users, as they have a right to know how you are using their information. Keep this in mind and you’ll likely save yourself from an unnecessary issue down the line.

As a startup, you will face obstacles regularly. Seeking guidance from others and educating yourself on struggles high profile companies have faced will help give you the information you need to prevent you from making the same mistakes.

Tricia Meyer is founder + managing attorney of Meyer Law, a woman-owned, forward-thinking boutique law firm specializing in helping entrepreneurs and technology companies from startups to fortune 500’s with corporate, contracts, employment and intellectual property matters in Technology, Telecom, FinTech, EdTech, AdTech, HealthTech, Internet of Things, Financial Services, Telecom, Social Media, Real Estate, Marketing, Advertising and Healthcare sectors.  As an entrepreneur and a lawyer, Meyer has a unique perspective and is a mentor at tech incubators and accelerators across the United States.  Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @Tricia_Meyer or @LoveYourLawFirm.