Entrepreneurs

Billionaire Snap CEO Evan Spiegel: ‘Obviously, life is not about making money’

Evan Spiegel, co-founder and chief executive officer of Snap Inc., stands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the company's initial public offering on Thursday, March 2, 2017.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Evan Spiegel, co-founder and chief executive officer of Snap Inc., stands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the company's initial public offering on Thursday, March 2, 2017.

Life is about more than making money, says Evan Spiegel, the billionaire co-founder and CEO of Snapchat company, Snap.

Spiegel, who is worth $3 billion according to Forbes, made the comment in a conversation with Recode's Kara Swisher at the 2018 Code Conference on May 29.

"So, obviously, life is not about making money. Life's not about winning awards. It's not about winning competitions or whatever," says Spiegel. "Life is really about having an impact on the world, changing the way that people experience the world, changing the way that you experience the world."

Swisher and Spiegel were talking about the responsibility of the tech industry to have values.

"I think for me, one of the things that I worry about is that businesses very quickly reduce problems to numbers. They think about themselves in terms of numbers and they get obsessed with driving numbers. I think the interesting thing about humanity and about values is that these are things that can't actually be quantified," says Spiegel.

"For me, I think the big red flag for all of us should be when we put more weight on things that can be counted instead of the things that can't be. Because the things that can't be counted are the things that make us human, and the things that are the most important to protect."

Snap's own numbers have been a mixed bag. Snap closed at $24.48 a share on its first day of trading in March 2017 and the price has largely been trending down since then. On Tuesday, Snap closed at $12.93 a share. However, a report published May 31 by Pew Research Center showed teens (13 to 17) in the U.S. preferred Snapchat to the social media juggernaut Facebook: 69 percent of teens reported using Snapchat while only 51 percent said they use Facebook. And 35 percent say they use Snapchat most often, while only 10 percent say that about Facebook.

Snap's Spiegel is not the only tech titan to say that making money is no "raison d'etre."

In February 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking The University of Glasgow, advised the audience to choose their careers based on more than just finances.

"My advice to all of you is, don't work for money — it will wear out fast, or you'll never make enough and you will never be happy, one or the other," Cook said.

"You have to find the intersection of doing something you're passionate about and at the same time something that is in the service of other people," Cook said. "I would argue that, if you don't find that intersection, you're not going to be very happy in life."

Serial entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson feels similarly.

"I know in America, people are fairly fixated on money, billionaires, millionaires and so on. I'm not," Branson told CNBC Make It. "What I love doing is creating things I can be proud of, and if you create things that you can be proud of, the byproduct of that can be that you become a millionaire or you become a billionaire, because people like what you've created."

"I have never been motivated by making money," Branson told CNBC's "Squawk Box" in October. The British businessman is currently worth $5 billion, according to Forbes.

And Warren Buffett, who is currently worth $82 billion, told PBS Newshour in June he would be "very happy" with with much less money than he has.

"I'm already happy. I would be happy with, you know — certainly with $100,000 a year, I could be very happy," Buffett said.

"I can buy anything, basically," says Buffett. "I have been on 400-foot yachts, and I have ... lived the life a little bit with people that have 10 homes and everything. And I live in the same house I bought in 1958.

"And if I could spend $100 million on a house that would make me a lot happier, I would do it. But, for me, that's the happiest house In the world. And it's because it's got memories, and people come back, and all that sort of thing."

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