As one of the youngest self-made billionaires in recent years, Evan Spiegel seems to be living the dream. Raised in Los Angeles, the 31-year-old entrepreneur is married to a supermodel, hobnobs with celebrities, and boasts a staggering net worth of $13.8 billion. Spiegel earned his fortune as the co-founder of Snapchat, the popular social media app that allows users to send messages that disappear shortly after being opened. Each day, some 293 million people use Snapchat to send disappearing photos and video clips. Interested in technology from a young age, Spiegel continues his passion today as Chief Executive Officer of Snapchat. He is also well known for his philanthropic pursuits, and has pledged to donate upwards of 13,000,000 shares of his company's Class A common stock over the next 15 to 20 years to an arts, education, and youth nonprofit. In 2014, Spiegel was named as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Spiegel's decision to attend Stanford University proved to be a defining moment in his life. At Stanford, Spiegel was a product design major and joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity, where he met future Snapchat CTO Bobby Murphy. The pair collaborated on various projects, at one point attempting to put together a college admissions website called Future Freshmen. In 2011, during Spiegel's junior year, he stood up in a Stanford product design class to present an idea for his final project. It would be a mobile app, he explained, where friends could share photos that would disappear—forever—in a matter of seconds. “Everyone said, ‘That is a terrible idea,’” Spiegel remembered. “‘Not only is nobody going to use it,’ they said, ‘but the only people who do, will use it for sexting.’”
Later that year, Spiegel went to work on the idea with fellow Stanford classmates, who helped launch "Picaboo," a prototype of his concept. The name was later switched to "Snapchat," which significantly grew in popularity. By the end of 2012, Spiegel had dropped out of Stanford to work on his app, which had already reached 1 million daily active users.
Since leaving, Spiegel has remained a valuable member of the Stanford community. In 2018, the tech billionaire returned to Palo Alto to complete his undergraduate degree, earning a Bachelor of Science in product design six years after dropping out. Known for his generosity, Spiegel made campus headlines again in 2020, when university leaders announced that the famous alumnus was making a significant donation to support the university’s Black Community Services Center (BCSC) and Ujamaa student residence. “[We are] beyond grateful for the generous gift from the Spiegel family,” said BCSC Director Rosalind Conerly. “We are excited for the impact of this gift to lift up our efforts.”