Snap Inc. has quietly acquired a team that specializes in protection against reverse engineering. Prior to joining SnapChat, the Strong.Codes team built software which prevented dismantling a product to learn how to copy or rebuild it. This process obviously isn’t news to Snap, which has previously acknowledged the risk of other social media sites mimicking Snapchat’s features. Risks that were realized when Instagram and Facebook unveiled their “story” features in quick succession.
Of course, companies can develop their own features without trawling Snapchat’s code. And the company deals with far more brazen imitation than added features on Facebook or Instagram. South Korea’s Snow, for example, is basically a carbon copy of Snapchat.
During his first earnings conference call in May, Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel said: “If you want to be a creative company, you have got to be comfortable with and enjoy the fact that people copy your products if you make great stuff.” Imitation may be a form of flattery, but the acquisition of the Strong.Codes team suggests Snapchat isn’t going to make it easy for its rivals to do that.