Snap Makes It Official: The Snapchat IPO Is On!

UPDATE (2/16): Snapchat parent Snap Inc has set a valuation of between $16.2 billion and $18.52 billion for its upcoming initial public offering, according to a Reuters report. The company was expected to be valued between $20 billion and $25 billion.

We’re getting a Snapchat IPO in 2017 after all. Snap Inc., which operates the wildly popular Snapchat mobile app, has filed its S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Snapchat IPO: Snap Inc. Makes It Official With S-1 Filing!Terms of the deal were not set because this is the initial filing. But we do know that Snap Inc. plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “SNAP.”

And the underwriters are a who’s who of Wall Street financials, including Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Deutsche Bank AG (USA) (NYSE:DB).

A look through the Snap Inc. S-1 provides a few more highlights for the Snapchat IPO:

  • An average of 158 million people use the Snapchat app on a daily basis, and they create 2.5 billion snaps a day.
  • Over 60% of the daily active users (DAUs) use the Chat Service every day to send Snaps and talk with friends.
  • Last year, Snap posted revenues of $404.5 million but also a hefty net loss of $514.6 million. This compares to a top line of $57.7 million and loss of $372.9 million in 2015.

The Snapchat IPO should be one of the largest — if not the biggest — offerings of the year. The Los Angeles Times also points out that the Snap Inc. IPO is expected to be the “biggest initial public offering ever for a Los Angeles company.”

Snapchat was founded just five years ago by a pair of former Stanford students as a class project. It has now grown into one of the most popular apps in the world, allowing users to snap photos and short videos, and apply various filters and effects to them.

Although, like many breakout online services, Snapchat had many early doubters. “Why would people want photos that disappear?” “Isn’t this just a sexting service?”

But many tech leaders in Silicon Valley knew Snapchat was very, very real. Most notable was Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who offered $3 billion for the company in 2013. That offer was turned down; Snapchat CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel deeply understood his company was going to be the next big thing.

The Snapchat IPO Lowdown

The Snapchat offering will garner tremendous buzz and likely have a strong debut, especially amid a dry overall IPO market for more than a year. Between that and the stock indices hitting new highs, the timing looks spot-on. Any other slips by big tech should also have investors looking to pour their earnings into the deal.

There are some risk factors to consider, of course.

The Snapchat service is mostly popular with those users who are between the ages of 18 to 34.  In other words, the company may become known as a plaything of the younger generation, which could cap growth. As seen with Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), a capped user base can ultimately translate into big problems for shareholders.

Meanwhile, the Snapchat S-1 provides some concern about the mighty Facebook, which has leveraged its Instagram app to fight back, including by offering a stories feature. Facebook also has made changes to Messenger for camera functions that look similar to Snap’s.

Still, when it comes to high-profile IPOs, these concerns tend to be downgraded to mundane details. Expect Wall Street to care most about the short-term momentum.

Snapchat likely will go public in March. The company still needs time to make amendments to the initial filing, as well as conduct a roadshow for potential investors.


Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook. He is also the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies, All About Commodities, and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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