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Ryan Marzolph

Ryan Marzolph

Post-production lead | Snapchat | Class of 2011

Truth be told, then-UI freshman and now-Snapchat employee Ryan Marzolph ('11) didn't attend that life-changing 2006 lecture at the Siebel Center to hear tech talk.

“I was already on that side of campus," he says, "and, of course, I knew there would be free pizza.

"So, as I sat eating what was likely my 10th free slice of Papa John’s pizza that week, I listened to someone whose name and company I can no longer recall, give a presentation I would never forget.

“The speaker was showing off something called a smartphone — a term I had never heard before. The device looked pretty much like a Blackberry: claustrophobically small keyboard, a small horizontal screen and one of those tiny trackballs to navigate. It was running an OS that looked like Windows 98 on a desktop computer made for a hamster, and the web browser took nearly a minute to load an underwhelming interpretation of the Internet.

“As I listened to the presenter talk about the potential of this device, and a future of mobile Internet access from anywhere, I’ll never forget what I thought: The smartphone is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.

Why would anyone want one of these, I thought. It’s so slow and difficult to navigate — I’d rather carry my laptop and hope for WiFi.

“Though it would be less than a year until Steve Jobs would blow the world away with the first modern smartphone, my 19-year-old self could not comprehend the value of what I was seeing. It wasn’t until years later, looking back, that I could appreciate the irony of my naivete in failing to recognize not only a technology that would change the world but one that would give birth to the very industry I would devote my career to.”

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