When Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, debuted on Wall Street last week, one of the main concerns investors voiced was the ability of other companies to copy its ideas quickly. Facebook, which tried to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, obliquely outlined its efforts to copy aspects of the app on its most recent earnings call, describing the success of Instagram stories, the near-carbon-copy of Snapchat’s own Stories function, and its plans to further its Snapchat-like ambitions.
Today, more of that vision was brought to bear: Facebook unveiled “Messenger Day,” which is essentially another clone of Snapchat’s story function, where users can post images and videos to Facebook Messenger that last for the day, and don’t have to be sent as messages to a specific user. And much like how Facebook didn’t mention Snapchat on its earnings call, it apparently has taken no inspiration from Snapchat for Messenger Day. As part of an interview with TechCrunch on the new feature, Facebook product manager Tony Leach said that the company gets inspiration for the product “from what our friends are using and doing, that they’re posting to Facebook, that they’re sharing with us in Messenger.” He added that, “We get to go talk to a lot of people in a lot of different countries to see how they want to communicate.”
Later in the interview, when asked who he thought started the “modern visual communication” that Messenger rolled out, Leach said that “AOL Instant Messenger inspired some of the stuff that we’ve been doing recently.” So apparently a decades-old chat program had more of a direct impact on Facebook’s Snapchat clone than Snapchat. Leach also mentioned that Instagram (which, remember, copied Snapchat) is another instigator of this trend, and even Facebook itself. The closest acknowledgement that any company outside of Facebook (and AOL) may have shaped visual messaging Leach gives is, “There are a lot of good tools out there.”
Here’s the full clip: