Snapchat has meetings just to talk about everyone's feelings

Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, developers of Snapchat.
J. Emilio Flores | Corbis | Getty Images
Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, developers of Snapchat.

Snapchat has an office ritual, called "council," that the company uses to practice "empathy."

A video released Friday shows Snap employees sitting on the floor in a circle, passing around sticks and drums. The video is a part of a pitch to investors in advance of its initial public offering.

"Once every other week, a group of people from throughout the company get together and they talk about how they feel, and they take turns listening to each other," CEO Evan Spiegel said.

Co-founder Bobby Murphy tells viewers that Spiegel is the architect of these "empathy" meetings, which are meant to drive a sense of family and to teach the engineers to empathize with customers.

"I really love our team, because they're kind, smart and creative," Spiegel said. "And when I say kind, I mean the kind of kind that compels you to tell someone they have something stuck in their teeth."

Spiegel's disappearing photo app had an early reputation for sending explicit photos, or "sexting." But in the video for investors, Spiegel said that what gets him out of bed is the company's shared "desire to create things that help people."

"There's so much more to give," Spiegel said.

While the company has kept close ties to its early days around the kitchen table of Spiegel's dad's house, it hasn't always been free of conflict. A person claiming to be Snapchat's third co-founder says Spiegel and Murphy shut him out of the company, and the company's reviews on Glassdoor offer mostly praise, but also some criticisms of the culture.

Mary Ritti, Snap's vice president of communications, insists the "love" among the 1,859 employees is what sets the brand apart.

"The support, and the love, that we show towards each other makes this so different, and I also think that it's the one thing that has really remained consistent even when so much else is changing," Ritti said in the video.