Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Snap values itself up to US$22b ahead of IPO

Published:Friday | February 17, 2017 | 2:00 AM
In this Thursday, October 24, 2013, file photo, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel poses for a photo in Los Angeles.

Snap Inc is valuing the company at up to US$22 billion as it prepares for the tech industry's biggest initial public offering (IPO) in years.

The parent company of the social network Snapchat said in a regulatory filing Thursday that the IPO is likely to be priced between US$14 and US$16 per share.

Had the IPO price matched the US$30.72 per-share price obtained in its last round of financing, Snap would have a market value of about US$30 billion, based on the quantity of outstanding stock listed in its IPO documents.

Snap said that it's offering 145 million Class A shares, while existing stockholders are offering an additional 55 million Class A shares. Snap won't receive any proceeds from shares sold by those stockholders. Underwriters of the IPO have an option to buy up to an additional 30 million shares.

Snap anticipates its net proceeds will be US$2.1 billion, or about US$2.3 billion, if underwriters buy all the shares they are entitled to. These amounts are based on the IPO being priced at US$15 per share.

Snap's highly anticipated IPO would be the largest since China's Alibaba Group went public in 2014. But Snap, based in Los Angeles, draws comparisons to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook raised US$16 billion when it went public in 2012.

Snapchat, whose hallmark is messages that vanish after they are sent, has millions of daily users. The app has adapted nimbly over to users' whims and demands, just as Facebook has. This, as both companies have discovered, is key to outlasting social media fads. Snapchat is no longer just about disappearing messages.

For example, it's added a 'Discover' section where a diverse group of publishers - including People, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Vice and Food Network - post video-heavy stories aimed mostly at millennials.

Another feature, 'Stories', lets people create a narrative from messages, videos and photos from the past 24 hours. It's so popular that Facebook's Instagram now has a version of it, too.

Snapchat's 'Lenses' lets people add animated overlays to photos and videos. It was one of the company's few missteps when some of those lenses were perceived as racist. It quickly ditched those lenses.

Snap is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the 'SNAP' ticker.

- AP