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The Most Popular Question for Snapchat's Evan Spiegel: Why Didn't You Sell?

Spiegel talked about passing up $3 billion during a commencement speech at USC on Friday.

In late 2012, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel did something crazy. Not the kind of crazy most 22-year-olds get into — you know exactly what we’re talking about — but something really, really crazy.

He turned down $3 billion.

“I’m asked one question most often: ‘Why didn’t you sell your business?’ Spiegel said Friday during his commencement address at USC’s Marshall School of Business. “‘It doesn’t even make money. It’s a fad. You could be on a boat right now. Everyone loves boats. What’s wrong with you?'”

‘What’s wrong with you?’ seemed like an appropriate response 18 months ago when it was learned that Spiegel had rejected Facebook’s bid for the ephemeral-messaging app. Now “brilliant” may be a more accurate way of describing the decision, as Snapchat’s valuation (at least on paper) has jumped up to a reported $15 billion.

“If you sell, you will know immediately that it wasn’t the right dream anyway,” Spiegel explained. “And if you don’t sell. you’re probably onto something. Maybe you have the beginning of something meaningful.”

There’s still no guarantee Spiegel’s decision was the right one long-term, at least financially. But it looks like he’s sitting pretty, with venture capitalists seemingly clamoring to give Snapchat as much money as it can hold.

In his address, Spiegel, who actually dropped out of Stanford early to work on Snapchat, also talked about making mistakes. He didn’t identify any specific missteps (like a collection of leaked fraternity emails that were pretty inappropriate), but did offer up a simple solution.

“You are going to make a lot of mistakes,” he said. “I’ve already made a ton of them — some of them very publicly — and it will feel terrible, but it will be okay. Just apologize as quickly as you can and pray for forgiveness.”

You can read Spiegel’s entire commencement address below. You can also hear him talk more about Snapchat at our upcoming Code conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., at the end of the month. Re/code will be putting up extensive video clips of the interviews and the entire sessions during and after the conference.

2015 USC Marshall Undergraduate Commencement Address by evan3268

This article originally appeared on

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