The first big IPO of 2017 is here. After months of speculation, anticipation, and consternation, one of the biggest social media platforms in the world is going public — Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat. As originally reported by Recode on Friday, the highly secretive Venice, California-based company will file sometime late next week, which means that Snap will ultimately go public around March (it generally takes about nine weeks between the filing and the official deed).
In anticipation of its IPO, Snap is slated to publicize the registration document it filed privately with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year, which will reveal its financials and strategy for operating as a publicly traded organization. Snap Inc. has yet to comment on these reports.
Valuations for the six-year-old social media platform are as high as $25 billion. If this figure holds, it would make it the largest American tech IPO since Facebook’s in 2012. As Reuters reported, Snapchat will likely offer its new investors “no-vote” shares when it IPOs, which would “deny investors voting power over the company’s corporate decisions,” allowing co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy to exercise more control along with Snap’s board.
As of today, Snapchat boasts more than 100 million active users, most of whom are in the highly valuable 13 to 24-year-old demographic. Millennials, after all, are some of advertisers’ most lucrative targets. That said, Snapchat is looking to diversify its appeal, and at a private meeting at a Morgan Stanley conference last year, Spiegel reportedly told an audience that half the app’s new users were over 25.
While many have been eagerly awaiting Snap’s IPO, some experts remain a bit more skeptical. “We are at the tail end of the social media boom. Novelty is giving way to fatigue,” wrote Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research. “Fundamental investors should avoid the IPO. Snapchat is a total junk, hyper-inflated.”
We’ll just have to wait a couple months more to see if he’s correct.
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