Snapchat’s Imran Khan Plans to Depart Company, Following Its First Drop in Users

The four-year veteran is reportedly starting up an investment firm

Imran Khan will stay with Snap Inc. for an interim period to aid with the transition. Getty Images

There is never a good time for a social platform to bid goodbye to its chief strategy officer of four years. Can Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. cope with doing so following the first quarter it ever saw a drop in users, though?

Snap revealed in a Form 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Imran Khan will leave the company to “pursue other opportunities.” His departure date has not yet been solidified.

Gil Eyal, CEO of influencer marketing platform Hypr, speculated that there may have been other motives behind the parting, saying, “It’s possible that Kahn is being sacrificed as a result of lower-than-desired performance over the past few quarters, and it’s unfortunate because certain areas, such as Snap’s new advertising platform, seem to be moving in the right direction.”

He added, “It’s unknown how involved he had been in less successful initiatives such as the recent application redesign, which was met with a negative response, or Spectacles, which did not have the desired popularity Snap had hoped for. Perhaps if Snap had remained private, they would not have to deal with the market pressure that could have driven the decision.”

According to Sarah Frier and Nate Lanxon of Bloomberg, Khan will start up an investment firm with a focus on investing in tech companies.

Author, entrepreneur and digital marketing expert Judge Graham sees a short-term hit followed by a correction, saying, “The stock may take a dip—that is normal with an executive change at that level. However, not one individual can take down a company, especially as large as Snap, which has a team of advisors and executives who can step up and cover his position. I don’t believe in any way that this will affect them in the long run.”

Snap reported in its second quarter 2018 financial results that its messaging app lost 3 million daily users during the three-month period. In contrast, Snapchat added 21 million daily users during the second quarter of 2016.

Aaron Goldman, chief marketing officer at marketing technology company 4C, does not see the company taking a big hit after Khan’s departure, saying, “Snap’s future is bright. Augmented reality has taken off, with 70 million people engaging with AR Snaps each day for an average of three minutes each, based on figures provided by the company. And the company has a passionate user-base who spends disproportionate amounts of time immersed in the platform. There are no signs of slowdown when it comes to the pace of innovation at Snap.”

The company said in its Form 8-K that Khan will remain on board for an undetermined interim period to aid with the transition.

Khan said in an email to Snap employees, “There is never a perfect time to say goodbye, but I know that the time is now. We have a stellar leadership team in place to guide Snap through the next phase of growth and on to the next chapter … I’m not going anywhere just yet. I will be focused on identifying a CBO [chief business officer] and ensuring a smooth transition. We won’t miss a beat during this period, and you will be left in better hands than my own.”

Eyal offered praise for Kahn’s efforts, saying, “While most people know Snap’s founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel, one of the most influential individuals in Snap’s C-suite over the past four years has been Imran Kahn, who led a more financially driven decision-making process. Under Kahn’s leadership, Snap focused on being a camera-first social network, as opposed to some of its competitors, and introduced iconic features like Stories that have become staples of social media, although unfortunately, they were copied immediately by competitors—Facebook and Instagram, in particular.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.