Snapchat’s Hometown Protests Company’s Presence
Snap Inc., the company known primarily for the cellphone app Snapchat, closed its first day of trading on the stock market Thursday with astounding numbers.
“Snap shares closed their first day of trading up 44 percent at $24.48 a share, quenching a long drought in the market for tech IPOs,” reports CNBC. “The Venice, California-based company, which serves augmented reality and cinematic advertisements to its young adult audience, could be a bellwether as other start-up giants, such as Airbnb and Uber, mull a public offering.”
But despite its strong opening day, Snap faces criticism—primarily from people living in neighborhoods near the tech giant’s headquarters. Dana Goodyear of The New Yorker writes:
For several years now, Venice, a swiftly gentrifying neighborhood where I have lived for the past five years, has been the heart of “Silicon Beach,” the SoCal answer to Palo Alto….The area Snap chose as its headquarters is a particularly dug-in segment of an area that is generally intensively protective of its gritty, diverse identity. The members-only vibe (Do you have your squiggly earpiece? Your laminated badge? I’m sorry, can I help you?) has not done anything to endear it to locals. Snap employees get yelled at by random strangers, as do people who merely look as if they could be Snap employees. Normal rules of technocracy—everything private, special, secret, privileged—read differently in a place where young people wear snakes around their necks and charge strangers to take their pictures. While Snap’s I.P.O. marked the arrival of Silicon Beach—it was the largest I.P.O. in L.A.’s history—it also sounded the death knell for those who fear that the changes are irreversible.
But civic hope is resilient, and on Thursday, while [co-founder Evan] Spiegel was presumably celebrating in New York, a group called the Alliance for the Preservation of Venice occupied the corner of Market and Pacific, protesting for a second day with an array of signs: “Insane Public Offenders”; “It’s Venice. Snap out of it”; “Evan Spiegel, #trumpofvenice.” Mark Rago, who started the alliance, was there, wearing a T-shirt that said “Venice Dogz Not For Sale” and had a picture of a ghost in a ranger hat (like those worn by the Snap security guards) crossed out. “They’re moving into this beachside community like a military occupation, and they’re being bullies about it,” he said, handing me a long list of local properties that he said were being leased by Snap, which his group had assembled by shadowing the company’s employees. “They treat you like you don’t belong. If we don’t stop them five years from now this will be known as Snapville.” A passing car honked. “Fuck Snapchat!” the driver called. “Get the fuck out!” Propped against a parking meter in front of a Snap building that used to be a tavern called Nikki’s was a sign that read “R.I.P. Nikki’s Hello Dickheads.” Several Snap employees stood there, too, not making eye contact with the protesters, somewhere between mildly disapproving and amused.
Read Goodyear’s entire piece on Snap here.
—Posted by Emma Niles
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