Jerry Miller, B.A.’98

Turning Point

By Stephen Shoemaker, B.A.’02

Snapchat has been one of the most talked-about apps of the last few years, and the conversation earlier this year focused on the company’s initial stock offering when it went public in March. Those who only paid casual attention, though, may equate the app with early chatter about some of the questionable and risqué ways its earliest adopters – teenagers – were making use of it.

Jerry Miller in his office at Snap, Inc.
Jerry Miller smiles for a photo in his office at Snap, Inc.

“When you typed ‘Snapchat’ into a Google search two or three years ago, those were the first couple of things that might come up. And I’ve seen the company evolve and go through a couple evolutions now,” said Jerry Miller, director of Business Recruiting at what is now Snap, Inc.

With a user base that has expanded into older demographics, its adoption among corporate and college social-media and marketing teams, and a foray into hardware with its Spectacles product, the company has come of age.

“We are without a doubt a camera company now,” said Miller. And it’s a camera company that allows its users to explore and cultivate their creativity in a more private way among their friends, without the obsessive polish that comes when posting to the significantly more public feeds of Facebook and Instagram.

“There’s no pressure with our platform. You get to be who you are,” Miller commented.

Go Danes doodle with Miller
A user can doodle on a photo and add text before sending the snap to friends.
Miller on Snap with the dog fliter
The puppy-dog lens allows a user to add puppy characteristics to a photo. Snap is always updating its lenses.

Miller, who joined the company after lending his skills in talent recruitment to LinkedIn and contributing to that company’s success, cites his own coming-of-age moment as a student at the University at Albany, where he majored in sociology and minored in psychology.

In need of 24 credits to graduate, he sought special permission from Sung Bok Kim, then dean of Undergraduate Studies, to take on a semester with a very heavy courseload. Fortunately, Kim saw that Miller was up for the challenge. Miller admitted that it was perhaps the first time he really buckled down in his academics.

“That was probably the most important conversation I had in college,” he added. “It was the turning point, the time when I stopped being a kid, took responsibility and became an adult. And that responsibility just carried on with me through life.”