Snap sets up Spectacles tech office in China

Albert Borrero, 32, tries his Snapchat Spectacles after being among the first to purchase them when they debuted last month.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Snap Inc., the Los Angeles start-up behind Snapchat and video-taking sunglasses Spectacles, has opened a small technology office in Shenzhen, China.

Its nearly 20 employees are focused mostly on the development of Spectacles, Snap said. The sunglasses are assembled elsewhere in China by manufacturer Goertek, which has a research facility in Shenzhen. Spectacles integrate a camera into the hinge and wirelessly transfer recordings to a smartphone’s Snapchat app.

Snap now has more than 1,500 employees across the globe, but most design and engineering work remains in the U.S., including for Spectacles, according to the company. The China office gets Snap into a growing tech hub and raises new possibilities, though.


Shenzhen, a city of about 10 million people, is considered China’s technology capital. Inhabitants include entertainment company Tencent, device maker Huawei, aerial drone start-up DJI and a swath of factories that crank out gadgets. Being close to such activity could underscore the importance of hardware to Snap, which has labeled itself a “camera company.”

The office came to light this week when a Chinese tech news publication spotted a Snap job listing that a technical school had shared on the social media app WeChat. Snap is seeking candidates who have at least three years of work experience, preferably at China’s big technology companies Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, according to the recruitment notice.

English isn’t necessary, the listing said. Workers would have a chance to move to the U.S. later and would receive stock options.

U.S. companies have taken varying approaches to China. To work more effectively with manufacturing partners, Apple announced plans earlier this year to open research and development facilities in Shenzhen and Beijing in the coming months.

Snapchat, like Facebook, Google and other services, is blocked in the Chinese mainland by the country’s censorship-heavy Internet authorities. Finding a way to operate in the world’s most populous country is not likely a priority for Snapchat, which is concentrating on revenue-generation efforts in the U.S., Europe and Australia. But China certainly represents an attractive market, and a local presence is a requisite inroad. Snap declined to comment on future plans.

Times staff writer Shan Li contributed to this report.

Advertisement / PGP

Twitter: @peard33