Evan Spiegel admits to being a little nervous ahead of his first trip to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. That’s understandable. At 25—an age when many college grads are still backpacking around Europe—the founder and CEO of Snapchat has been given top billing at one of advertising’s biggest events.
In a way, it represents an introduction to the ad world for the young company, a social media darling founded in 2011. Snapchat has built an addictive and innovative product that reaches an elusive but alluring audience, and now it must build a billion-dollar business out of it.
“Anytime you do something for the first time, it’s nerve-racking,” Spiegel confesses in a conversation with Adweek just ahead of his trip to this annual gathering for the advertising elite on the French Riviera. “And I’ve never built an ad business before.”
When he takes the main stage at Cannes, 6,000 of the agency world’s top creatives and deal makers will be eager to hear his pitch. “If people show up,” he says, half joking. Spiegel is quite aware, after all, that he is in command of a fan base of 100 million consumers who use the app daily and obsessively—a group advertisers would love to get in front of. The vast majority of Snapchat’s users are young and latched to their phones like kids in the ’50s were fixated on TV. According to stats the company shared, 63 percent of the app’s monthly users are between the age of 13 and 24. Snapchat has not divulged total monthly users but estimates put it at 200 million-plus.