Not too long ago, Snapchat, whose foray into digital marketing along with a series of breathless innovations had it headed towards a $25 billion valuation, seemed unstoppable. But ever since Instagram debuted its “Stories” feature eight months ago, it’s been hard not to feel a little sorry for the company that pioneered the stories format in the first place.
Instagram’s version is a straight a facsimile of Snapchat’s format down to the use of filters and stickers, and according to a new report from the Verge, it already boasts over 40 million more active users than the platform it so blatantly replicated. In fact, of Instagram’s total 600 million users, the 200 million that are using Stories regularly, dwarf Snapchat’s entire 158 million user base.
Unfortunately for Snapchat, social media companies borrow ideas from one another all the time, since copyright laws don’t protect specific ideas. In fact, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom had no problem giving Snapchat credit for creating the ephemeral “Stories,” proving just how open companies are about poaching ideas from their rivals.
“They deserve all the credit,” he told TechCrunch last summer. When you are an innovator, that’s awesome. Just like Instagram deserves all the credit for bringing filters to the forefront. This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”
So where does this leave Snapchat? Well, it’s once rapidly increasing user growth has slowed to a crawl, and it recently cited “increased competition” as one of the main reasons for that. In fact, TechCrunch reported that Snapchat’s growth slowed an eye-popping 82% since Instagram stories launched, and Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, lost $515 million in 2016 alone.
If these trends continue in the direction they’re headed, Snapchat’s disappearing stories might end up being the perfect metaphor for the company itself.