Snap Inc. SNAP, +0.00% , the parent company of messaging app Snapchat, priced its shares at $17 a share Wednesday to raise $3.4 billion and is expected to begin trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SNAP.”
At $17 a share, Snap would have an initial public market capitalization of $19.7 billion, based on shares outstanding, and a fully diluted valuation closer to $24 billion. Snap’s latest private valuation was $17.8 billion, according to Moneyofficials.com
Stockholders who bought into the offering will not have any voting rights.
Snapchat, an app in which users send and view “snaps,” makes money from ads on the platform and content created by third-party channels such as news organizations. It also recently introduced a hardware product, Snapchat Specs, and has a payment feature called Snapcash.
Snap reported that its ephemeral messaging service had 158 million daily active users at the end of 2016, and an average of 2.5 billion “snaps” are created on Snapchat every day.
Here are six things to know about the company:
Snap reported growing revenues and increasing losses. Snap recorded $404.5 million in revenue in 2016, compared with $58.7 million in 2015. Net losses grew to $514.6 million in 2016, compared with a net loss of $372.9 million in 2015. Like many burgeoning tech startups, Snap warned that it “may never achieve or maintain profitability.”
Snap recorded a loss from operations of $520.4 million in 2016 and a loss of $381.7 million in 2015. Its global average revenue per user for the three months ended in December 2016 was $1.06, up from 31 cents in the year-earlier period.
The majority of Snap’s revenue in 2016, 98%, came from advertising.
A young, active user base
Snap had 158 million daily active users, which it says is a “critical measure” of user engagement, as of Dec. 31, 2016. Growth in daily active users has been pressured of late, though, growing by only 7% between the second and third quarters of 2016 and relatively flat growth in the final quarter. Snap mentioned competition in their prospectus, and that decline roughly coincides with Facebook Inc.’s FB, -0.05% early August launch of Instagram Stories, a product similar to one of SnapChat’s most popular features.
User growth is important for attracting advertisers and, consequently, the majority of Snap’s revenue. The majority of Snapchat users are 18-to-34 years old, a coveted advertising demographic that the company has reportedly been luring away from sites like Facebook. Users younger than 25 are among the most active on Snapchat, visiting the app more than 20 times a day and spending more than 30 minutes a day, as of the quarter ended December 2016, Snap said.
On average, daily active users visited Snapchat more than 18 times each day and spend 25 to 30 minutes there.
Still, Snap noted that the teen demographic is not “brand loyal” and could shift attention to another platform. Already the numbers show a seasonality, with engagement lower in summer months, according to the prospectus. Also, Snap may struggle to grow its user numbers in countries or areas without the high-bandwidth-capacity cellular networks the app requires, it said.
The company has three classes of common stock and plans to offer common A stock that will not give stockholders any voting power.
Owners of class B common stock will be entitled to one vote per share and holders of class C common stock, which include co-founders Evan Spiegel, 26, and Robert Murphy, 28, are entitled to 10 votes per share. With that ownership, both parties have “the ability to control the outcome of all matters” that are sent to the stockholders for approval. The filing does not yet disclose what percentage voting power they will have after the offering.
Spiegel, the company’s chief executive, had a salary of $503,205 in 2016, with a $1 million bonus and other compensation totaling $2.4 million. Under his offer letter, he will reduce his salary to $1 as of the effective date of the registration statement, with a cash bonus of $1 million. He will also receive restricted stock units, representing 3% of outstanding capital stock, in quarterly installments for three years, beginning in the third quarter after the offering.
If either are fired, they will still have “significant” voting power. If either die, shares will convert and the other co-founder will be able to exercise voting control over outstanding stock.
Rivalries and a dependence on big companies
Snap uses Alphabet Inc’s GOOGL, -0.22% GOOG, +0.01% Google Cloud for much of its computing, storage, bandwidth and other needs. To that end, on Jan. 30, 2017, just three days before the filing, Snap committed to spend $2 billion with Google Cloud over the next five years. If that relationship were disrupted, Snap said its business would be “seriously harmed.” Snap sees its hosting costs with Google or others growing as its user base and engagement grows.
In terms of competition, Snap lists Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.21% Alphabet’s Google and Twitter Inc. TWTR, +0.25% Facebook may be a more direct threat, as Snap noted the new feature on Instagram that “largely mimics” its Snap Stories. These companies have greater resources and may have the ability to draw users away from Snap, the company admitted.
“We face significant competition in almost every aspect of our business both domestically and internationally,” the prospectus said.
Many buildings, but no headquarters
Snap has been known for keeping things under wraps, even within the company. To that end, the prospectus says the company has offices spread out across the U.S. and abroad, including several principal offices in Venice, Calif.
But those principal offices are still “dispersed throughout the city,” which Snap notes could hurt employee morale, retention and the company’s ability to oversee employees. The company had 1,859 employees at the end of 2016, up from 600 in 2015.
Still, the prospectus says the company has a tightknit and “kind” team.
“When we say ’kind,’ we mean the type of kindness that compels you to let someone know that they have something stuck in their teeth even though it’s a little awkward,” the prospectus says.
Moving past sexting
Snapchat launched in 2011 as platform to quickly send selfies. Its key advantage was that the “snaps” disappeared after they were sent, so users felt “comfortable sending photos of themselves even when they don’t look pretty or perfect.”
But the platform quickly developed a reputation for “sexting,” or sending racy selfies and videos.
“When we were just getting started, many people didn’t understand what Snapchat was and said it was just for sexting, even when we knew it was being used for so much more,” the prospectus says.
Moving on from selfies, Snap added videos and then the ability to send a photo or video to all of the user’s friends, thus launching “My Stories.” They added publisher stories in January 2015, opening up the feature to organizations with editorial teams. Since those days, Snap has added more features, including lenses that superimpose over the user’s face and geofilters, allowing an overlay for the user’s location and for brand advertising.