Stanford Condemns Snapchat CEO’s E-Mails in Message to Students

May 30, 2014 3:14 pm ET

May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Stanford University sent a message to undergraduates condemning e-mails sent by Snapchat Inc. Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel when he belonged to a fraternity at the school.

The e-mails from 2009 and 2010, which celebrated getting drunk and convincing sorority women to perform sexual acts, were published by Gawker Media LLC’s Valleywag blog this week. Spiegel subsequently issued an apology. Stanford Provost John Etchemendy said in a note to students today that the university community was “positively ashamed” that the messages were sent.

“There will always be members of the Stanford community who arrive here without the maturity to recognize the corrosive effect of crude or hateful language, and the attitudes that give rise to it,” Etchemendy wrote. “Members of our community should learn now, not many years from now, how abhorrent those attitudes are, whether real or feigned.”

Most of Spiegel’s e-mails were related to organizing fraternity parties for Stanford’s Kappa Sigma. Spiegel, 23, said he was “mortified and embarrassed” that they were made public. He has been trying to build Los Angeles-based Snapchat, which makes a mobile application for disappearing photo messages, into a bigger business after turning down an acquisition offer from Facebook Inc. last year for about $3 billion.

‘No Excuse’

“I have no excuse,” he said this week. “I’m sorry I wrote them at the time and I was jerk to have written them. They in no way reflect who I am today or my views towards women.”

Mary Ritti, a spokeswoman for Snapchat, declined to comment. Lisa Lapin, a spokeswoman for Stanford, said the school had no comment beyond the provost’s message.

“We can choose to turn a blind eye to such statements and chalk them up to youthful indiscretion,” Etchemendy told undergraduates. “Or we can be more courageous, and affirmatively reject such behavior whenever and wherever we see it, even -- no especially -- if it comes from a friend, a classmate, or a colleague.”

Spiegel has faced many growing pains as the head of Snapchat, including a company data breach. Earlier this month, the startup settled claims by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it deceived users by falsely promising its photo messages disappeared.

Snapchat, born in 2011 in Spiegel’s fraternity house, has raised funding from investors including Institutional Venture Partners, General Catalyst, Benchmark, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and SV Angel.