Snapchat Parent Snap Files $3 Billion IPO, But No Voting Shares

Snapchat Parent Snap Files $3 Billion IPO, But No Voting Shares

In disclosing various risks, the company notes that the "vast majority" of Snapchat runs on Google Cloud, with a just signed $2 billion five year deal.

The S-1 filing released on Thursday gives potential investors a snapshot of the company's financials for the first time. But we do know that Snap Inc. plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "SNAP".

Snap is one of the sector's most prominent "unicorns" - a term used for venture-backed firms with valuations over $1 billion - along with Uber and Airbnb.

According to Snap's S-1, the company's global ARPU more than tripled from $0.31 in Q4 2015 to $1.05 in Q4 2016 as annual revenues soared from $58.7 million in 2015 to $404.5 million in 2016.

Compare that growth rate to Facebook (fb), which pleased shareholders by growing its sales 54% in 2016.

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In September, Snap unveiled its first-ever hardware device in the form of its snap-recording sunglasses: Spectacles.

Snap reported filed a confidential IPO with the SEC late a year ago, which lets smaller companies sidestep a public announcement initially.

Snapchat could have died a quick death as a "sexting app", but Spiegel showed a knack for adapting to users' whims and demands, just as Facebook has over the years. Snapchat, which said in the IPO that is now has about 158 million users worldwide, could be valued at $20 billion to $25 billion or more, making it the largest overall initial public offering since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's (BABA.N) went public in 2014 valued at $170.9 billion. And $25 billion is way, way too high. That makes the typical stock valuation metric, the price-to-earnings ratio (or P/E), irrelevant. Facebook comes in second, after raising $16 billion in 2012. Snapchat's executives and early investors are expected to wield all of the voting power in the company.

"Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy, and potentially either one of them alone, have the ability to control the outcome of all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval" Snap said in its IPO prospectus. Although Twitter has become an important force in the spread of information, Snap has arguably had a bigger influence on the way people communicate. Though it's true that revenue is increasing rapidly, growth in the number of people using its app has slowed considerably. At the time Snapchat had 5m active daily users. Instead, Twitter's user base stalled around the 300 million mark.

Fortunately, Snap recognizes that they "need to prioritize development of our products to operate on smartphones with Android operating systems" in order to "continue growth in user engagement".