Could Bad Email Etiquette Be The Key To Success?

Jan 10, 2014


Picture the scene: you are a fresh-faced, twenty-two year old co-founder of a small tech company with aspirations and a somewhat popular mobile app. One day, you check your inbox to find an email from your idol; the billionaire CEO of, arguably, the world’s biggest and most well-known company in your industry. He thinks your little start-up is great. He’s a fan. And he wants to meet you.

What would you do? Reply immediately, thanking Mr CEO for his kind and generous praise, and arrange to meet him wherever he likes as soon as humanly possible? Or, respond casually with a single line of grammatically-incorrect text speak, emoticons and all, and brush off his suggestion of a meeting with a vague “I’ll let you know…”

I’m going to take an educated guess that you’d go with the first option. Well, you could be missing out on the opportunity to level the playing field with your industry’s heavy hitters. Take Evan Spiegel, for example. Spiegel is the co-founder of Snapchat, one of 2013’s most popular apps. You may have heard of it. When Mark Zuckerberg (yes, THE Mark Zuckerberg) emailed Spiegel in 2012, back when Snapchat was barely a fledgling, and invited him to meet one-on-one at Facebook’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, Spiegel’s response was less than effusive. His reply to the billionaire CEO of Facebook was thus:


“Thanks 🙂 would be happy to meet – I’ll let you know when I make it up to the Bay Area”

Now, perhaps Spiegel had recently watched The Social Network, the film adaptation of Zuckerberg’s rise to prominence; covering his court battles with fellow Facebook creator, Eduardo Saverin, and the Winklevoss twins, who claimed he stole the original idea for the social networking site from them. His portrayal in the film would be enough to put anybody off a private meeting with the shrewd, and apparently ruthless, businessman. But, maybe, just maybe, Spiegel was playing an even cleverer game; one that put him in a position of power from the get-go. And perhaps it worked: Facebook offered Snapchat $3bn for the app last year, an offer that was refused by Spiegel’s company.

So, is demonstrating poor etiquette and bad grammar the newest strategy for young wannabes looking to make it to the top? Brief and incorrectly spelled emails have long been the vestige of the extremely busy and incredibly important, so why not employ the tactic yourself – it could get you noticed. Just be careful, there is a fine line between charmingly flawed and downright sloppy.

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