Meet the man behind Spectacles, Snapchat’s new smart sunglasses


Former Motorola exec Steve Horowitz is running Snapchat’s hardware team.

Snapchat finally pulled back the curtain on its new camera sunglasses last Friday night, its first hardware project, in the works since at least early 2015.

Now we also know who built them: Steve Horowitz, the former engineering VP at Motorola and mobile product veteran who joined Snapchat back in early 2015 in a similar engineering VP role.

Snap Snapchat Spectacles
Screenshot

Horowitz is the guy in charge of Snapchat’s hardware efforts, sources say, which includes these glasses and any other future projects. He reports directly to CEO Evan Spiegel, and has been hiring other wearable experts throughout the year in an effort to grow the team.

Prior to Motorola, Horowitz served as CTO of payments company Coupons.com and served in the product trenches of tech heavyweights Google, Apple and Microsoft. At Apple he worked on early versions of the Mac. At Google, he worked closely with the early Android team and earned a reputation as shrewd and effective, like Android’s then-chief Andy Rubin.

Horowitz, a Michigan grad, also has extensive experience in wearables from his days at Motorola, where he led global engineering and worked on, among other things, the company’s smartwatches. But he didn’t like to call them smartwatches, in part because he wanted the product to feel like a watch first, and a computer second.

“If you want to appeal to a segment beyond the technologists, you have to be able to appeal to the aesthetic,” Horowitz told SlashGear back in 2014. “I think that’s a key thing we focused on.”

It’s a philosophy apparently shared by Snapchat’s Spiegel, who said something similar about the glasses ahead of last Friday’s reveal. “It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Snapchat has never broadcast Horowitz’s role, which isn’t surprising given the company’s general secrecy about most things, but especially hardware projects. The company has another engineering VP, Tim Sehn, but he leads engineering for the core Snapchat app.

A few other Spectacle team members: Mark Randall, a former supply chain exec at both Amazon and Google, is handling the supply chain portion of production for Spectacles as VP of operations; and Kelly Nyland, a former marketing exec from robot creator Sphero, is handling, you guessed it, marketing.

A company spokesperson confirmed the roles for all three.

Former Recode journalist Mark Bergen previously contributed reporting to this story.

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