Snap shoots for the sky, promises little in $3 billion IPO pitch

Fri Feb 3, 2017 3:05pm EST
 
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By Lauren Hirsch and Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Snapchat owner Snap Inc shot the opening salvo in its $3 billion initial public offering on Thursday, outlining aggressive expansion plans but offering new investors no say on how the company is run and no promise of profits.

Snap's publication on Thursday of its IPO registration document sets the stage for its upcoming marketing campaign to convince investors to look past its widening losses and the firm grip of its founders, and focus on its rapid growth of active users.

The number of Snap's daily active users grew to an average of 158 million at the end of December, up 48 percent year-on-year, Snap revealed. However, its net loss widened to $514.6 million in 2016 from $372.9 million the year before.

While Snap will have time to polish its marketing pitch in the run-up to the IPO planned for March, some analysts were taken aback that the company was just beginning to reap cash from its product.

"What surprises me the most is that it is still very early days when it comes to Snap making money," said Rohit Kulkarni, managing director at private securities investment firm SharesPost.

Snap had confidentially registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO late last year. It kept the filing under such tight wraps, even some of its IPO underwriters had not seen it prior to publication on Thursday, sources familiar with the matter previously told Reuters.

Snap said in the IPO registration document published on Thursday it would become the first U.S. company to go public with shares on offer not granting voting rights to stock market investors. Its founders, Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, will keep control of the company.

Snap could be valued at between $20 billion to $25 billion, according to sources familiar with the situation who asked not to be named because the matter is confidential. That would give the company the richest valuation in a U.S. technology IPO since Facebook Inc.   Continued...

 
A billboard displays the logo of Snapchat above Times Square in New York March 12, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo