Snap Inc, the parent company of short video app Snapchat, has outlined plans to grow its presence in Southeast Asia, hiring its first Singapore-based employee.
Anubhav Nayyar has joined the company as director of Southeast Asia market development, with a remit to lead Snap's expansion in the region.
He joins from messaging app Viber where he was the most recently the senior director and head of Asia Pacific. Nayyar was Viber’s first regional employee, and was responsible for establishing it as a leading messaging app in multiple countries in Asia as well as setting up operations across the region.
Nayyar will be part of the international markets team, which is responsible for Snap’s growth strategy—including expanding operations in key global markets and building its local partnerships including with telecom providers and OEMs.
Snap plans to open an office in Singapore later this year once the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
Snap said the Southeast Asia region has grown in importance for the company over the past 12 months.
"We are excited about the opportunity to grow our business in Southeast Asia," Snap chief strategy officer Jared Grusd said. "It is one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse parts of the world. We are inspired by the response from our community in this region who embrace communicating visually with their close friends and family."
The region is home to a growing number of verified 'Snap Stars' across fitness, music, fashion, and lifestyle categories.
Snap has also rolled out localised augmented reality lenses for holidays such as Chinese New Year, Thaipusam, Vesak Day, and Kartini Day as well as event such as Java Jazz festival and Football Association of Malaysia matches against Thailand and Indonesia.
The tech platform has conducted various 'Lens Studio' workshops at local secondary schools and universities across Malaysia and Indonesia over the past year to support the development of AR skills in the region.
Snap has existing partnerships in Southeast Asia with OEMs such as Vivo and telcom providers Indosat and Maxis.
Snapchat claims to reach 85% of 13-24 year olds in Australia. But Southeast Asian countries rank low in the platform's userbase, with the Phillipines ranking as its 12th biggest country for users and Indonesia the 19th, according to Statista.
The short video and messaging app, which has had a longstanding rivalry with Instagram, is now also competing against Chinese giant TikTok, which counted an estimated 190 million users in Southeast Asia in May last year.
Kathryn Carter, the general manager for ANZ, SEA and HK at Snap, said establishing a presence in Southeast Asia will allow the platform to work more closely with clients in the region.
"There is a huge opportunity for brands to expand their reach across the region, and we are committed to helping local and regional advertisers," she said. "Our growing audience in the Southeast Asia region offers advertisers a unique opportunity to reach a generation of consumers who are driving the post COVID-19 recovery.”
Nayyar commented: “Southeast Asia as we know it is a geographically expansive and populous region, filled with rich, diverse cultures. Snap wants to celebrate and support this diversity and I can’t wait to get started building and growing our strategic partnerships, local content, and community across the region."