Jeremy Liew is a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. His job is straightforward: find new and hot startup companies before everyone else does.
So when a little known app called Snapchat surfaced in 2012, he was intrigued. According to Business Insider, it all started when his VC partner brought it to his attention:
When Liew first found Snapchat, the disappearing photo app had fewer than 100,000 installs. Liew’s VC partner, Barry Eggers, had seen it on his teenage daughter’s phone. She told her father there were only three apps high school kids were using: Angry Birds, Instagram, and Snapchat. Liew was familiar with the first two. But he had never heard of Snapchat.
The comment was enough to pique Liew’s curiosity. He made it his mission to find out who was behind the mysterious app.
It wasn’t an easy process. Liew had to do a lot of detective work on Google until he was able to locate Evan Spiegel, the co-founder of Snapchat.
Liew did a Google search and came up dry. No articles had been written about Snapchat. There was no contact information on the startup’s website except for a generic email address. Liew messaged it and heard nothing back. Liew looked up the company on LinkedIn and sent a message.
Again, there was no response.
Determined, Liew did a WhoIs lookup on the domain name, Snapchat.com. It had been registered by Toyopa Group, the former parent company of Snapchat. Spiegel had named it after the street his father lived on, Toyopa Drive.
Liew did a Google search for Toyopa Group and found Evan Spiegel’s name. He was a student at Stanford, where Liew had also gone to school. Liew was able to message him on Facebook through the Stanford alumni network.
Eventually Liew was able to successful get in contact with Spiegel. Apparently the only reason Spiegel responded to his message was because Liew had a photo of President Obama in his profile picture:
Liew later asked Spiegel why he returned the Facebook request and none of his other messages.
“It was because you had President Obama in your profile picture,” Spiegel said.
“There’s serendipity involved in all this stuff,” Liew said.
Liew’s company was able to get in their investment, and today Snapchat filed to go public. Thanks to Jeremy’s tenacity and persistence, he’s a whole lot richer.