- Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
It happened toward the end of Snap’s hourlong call on Thursday, lending a comedic, and perhaps fitting, finish to the discussion about the business’ underwhelming performance.
Spiegel and Snap exec Imran Khan had lambasted “growth hacking” by certain unnamed competitors, a thinly veiled shot at the phone notifications that Facebook, Twitter, and others serve up to lure users back to their apps.
Enter Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG, who pointed out on the call that Snap also sent such phone notifications to users. Why is what Snap does any different than what it accuses competitors of doing?
The answer, Spiegel explained, was that certain companies had “relaxed their standards” and that Snap’s content was “relevant,” adding that anyone looking for examples of the most egregious growth hacking should just “go for a Google.”
As far as conference-call nonanswers go, it was pretty standard fare.
But when Greenfield’s colleague Brandon Ross erupted into laughter and exclaimed, “I didn’t even understand his response,” the phone had not yet been disconnected, creating an awkward moment for the Snap executives, as well as the other analysts, reporters, and investors who were tuned in.
Unsurprisingly, the gaffe was quickly discussed on Twitter:
Fun SNAFU on Snap earnings call: They accidentally broadcast an analyst on a hot mic mocking Evan Spiegel's response to his question.
— Will Oremus (@WillOremus) August 10, 2017
Sounded like it might have been Rich, but can’t be certain… Rich?
— Jan Dawson (@jandawson) August 10, 2017
Even Greenfield had a laugh – using what else but Snapchat Bitmoji:
— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) August 10, 2017
Hot mics offer a cherished moment of levity in the quarterly routine of stilted earnings-call dialogue. In July, those listening to the earnings call for Google’s parent company, Alphabet, were treated to another gem when an analyst was heard mumbling something after company executives sidestepped his question.
Asked whether he had any regrets about his colleague’s hot mic, Greenfield said, “It was certainly not intended to be heard on the call.”
In an email to Business Insider, he explained the inopportune remarks by saying Snap had already introduced the next analyst in the queue for the question-and-answer session.
But the hot-mic comments reflect a broader confusion about Snap’s “growth hacking” philosophy, Greenfield said.
“Based on investor feedback, it is clear that nobody understands what other social networks are doing differently than Snapchat that would drive Evan to label other’s actions ‘growth hacking’ distinct from what Snapchat is doing,” Greenfield said.
You can listen to the key moment of the Snap call here:
— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) August 11, 2017