Snap makes key hire to ensure no one copies Snapchat again

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Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram have repeatedly copied Snapchat. But clones of the popular app could soon be a thing of the past, judging by Snap’s latest moves.

Snapchat developer Snap Inc. isn’t happy about Facebook stealing from it.

For proof, look no further than its recent IPO filing, in which it states that Facebook subsidiary Instagram mimicked its Stories feature. Despite listing the big blue social network as a rival, it didn’t mention the fact that Facebook itself has copied the social-sharing function too, both on Messenger and within its flagship app.

To ensure its products are safe from plagiarism in the future, Snap has quietly hired a security expert in the form of Laurent Balmelli, reports Bloomberg. After spending a decade at IBM, Balmelli went on to create and co-found several tech startups, one of which (Strong.Codes) creates tools to protect software code from reverse engineering: a process that sees copycats take apart a product in order to see how it works.

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“Software protection is a topic that is becoming increasingly important, especially since the emergence of…mobile computing,” the startup writes on its website. “Our goal is to make software piracy much more expensive and complicated.”

Alongside its hire, Snap has also reportedly registered its first subsidiary in Switzerland — in the same location that Strong.Codes is based in. It is unclear at this stage whether Snap has acquired Balmelli’s startup. In a regulatory filing it states that its Swiss unit will focus on acquisitions “in the fields of technology and computer security,” as well as “the commercialization of software and computer equipment.” Snap has declined to comment on the hire. The company behind the popular visual messaging app now reportedly has offices in the U.S., UK, France, China, and Dubai.

But has its move to beef up security come too late? According to some, the damage to Snapchat may have already been done. A recent report by TechCrunch claims that since the introduction of Instagram Stories in August, various analytics companies have noted declines in Snapchat Stories view counts ranging from 15 to 40 percent. Meanwhile, Instagram’s version of the feature has gone from strength to strength, most recently racking up an impressive 150 million daily views.

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