Imran Khan, the chief strategy officer for Snap is leaving the company to start his own tech investment firm. Photo: AP

INTERNATIONAL – Snap is losing chief strategy officer Imran Khan, one of the few remaining leaders of the team that took the company public in 2017.

Khan is leaving to start his own investment firm that will take stakes in technology companies, according to a person familiar with the mater. Khan will remain in his role until the company can find a replacement, according to a filing made with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Once one of the most popular mobile apps among young people, Snap has struggled to grow as quickly as expected. In little over a year, Snap has also lost or replaced its heads of finance, legal, engineering, product and sales. Still, in a memo to employees, Khan put a positive spin on the company’s direction.

“There is never a perfect time to say goodbye, but I know that the time is now,” Khan wrote. “We have a stellar leadership team in place to guide Snap through the next phase of growth and on to the next chapter.”

Khan came to Snap in 2014 from an unusual background – banking at Credit Suisse. Once he was at the startup, he took on a role similar to Sheryl Sandberg in Facebook’s early days: to help Snap come up with a business model and explain it to outsiders. 

At Snap, Khan has served essentially as chief executive Evan Spiegel’s second-in-command. While Spiegel prefers to lead direction on Snapchat’s product, design and engineering, Khan has built out the business functions. His departure frees up the company to find someone who will grow it in a steady manner.

Khan will be replaced by a chief business officer, not a chief strategy officer, according to sources familiar with the matter.

In August, Snap hired Kristen O’Hara to be its global head of business solutions, filling a role similar to the top sales job that opened early this year. She is due to start in September and was supposed to report to Khan.

Los Angeles-based Snap, owner of Snapchat, the photo-sharing mobile app, has missed Wall Street’s expectations for advertising sales four of its six quarters as a public company. It’s also faced criticism for an unpopular redesign of its flagship consumer product. In the prior quarter, Snap for the first time reported a decline in daily users.