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Snapchat Parent Files for $3 Billion IPO: Company Revenue Soaring, but It’s Deep in the Red

Snap Inc., the parent company of social-media darling Snapchat, officially filed paperwork for an initial public offering on Thursday — showing massive revenue growth, but also steep losses.

The Venice, Calif.-based company expects to raise up to $3 billion in the offering, anticipated sometime this spring. The IPO reportedly will value Snap at upwards of $25 billion. It’s one of the most eagerly awaited public offerings of the year.

Last year, Snap generated $404.5 million in revenue — nearly seven times the $58 million in sales the year prior. But its losses also swelled in 2016: The company recorded a net loss of $514.6 million last year, according to the S-1 filing with the SEC, compared with a net loss of $372.9 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2015.

The filing also revealed that Snapchat had 158 million daily active users for the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 48% year over year (but up only 3% sequentially from 153 million in Q3). By comparison, Instagram has 400 million daily active users, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday’s earnings call.

Snap is headed by 26-year-old CEO Evan Spiegel, who co-founded the company in 2011 when he was a student at Stanford University.

Snap chairman Michael Lynton, an early investor in the company, last month exited as CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment citing a desire to focus his attentions on Snap. Lynton has served on the Snap board since April 2013 and has been chairman since September 2016.

The company officially changed its name from Snapchat to Snap Inc. last fall, when it announced a line of video-enabled sunglasses called Spectacles. So far, the $130 video glass have not generated significant revenue, according to Snap. It now describes itself as “a camera company” and says in the company’s overview, “We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way that people live and communicate.”

Snapchat began life as a service that lets users send each other messages that evaporate within 10 seconds of the recipient viewing them. The service has since expanded to include Stories — which disappear after 24 hours (and is a feature Instagram has successfully copied) — and Discover, a section for media content with partners that include ESPN, CNN, BuzzFeed, Comedy Central, the NFL and Vice Media.

Last year Snap paid content partners $57.8 million under ad-revenue sharing agreements (up from $9.6 million in 2015), per the S-1. It said 91% of 2016 ad revenue was inventory Snap sold directly, with partner sales accounting for 9%.

The company says Snapchat users create more than 2.5 billion messages and posts every day and that on average they visit the app more than 18 times per day, spending 25-30 minutes on Snapchat daily.

Along with its revenue and user growth, Snap’s workforce more than tripled last year. It had 1,859 full-time employees as of Dec. 31, 2016, up from 600 a year earlier.

Snap disclosed in the S-1 that it has agreed to spend $2 billion with Google over the next five years for cloud services. “We rely on Google Cloud for the vast majority of our computing, storage, bandwidth and other services,” the company said.

According to the filing, Spiegel’s 2016 compensation package was worth $2.4 million, including an annual base salary of $503,205. Chief strategy officer Imran Khan had a pay package worth $5.5 million in 2016 — whereas his 2015 comp totaled a staggering $145.5 million, comprising nearly all stock awards. Snap SVP of engineering Timothy Sehn earned $41.4 million in 2016, including stock worth $40 million.

Snap generates the bulk of its revenue from North America. In Q4 2016, it had $165.7 million in total sales, and 88% of that ($145.4 million) was from North America; Snap posted $14.7 million in European sales and $5.7 million from the rest of the world for the period.

Snap said it has applied to list on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol “SNAP.”

Snap’s lead underwriters on the IPO are Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. It has a long list of other underwriters, including: J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank Securities, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, Allen & Co., BTIG, Citigroup Global Markets, Cowen & Co., Evercore Group, Jefferies, JMP Securities, LionTree Advisors, Oppenheimer & Co., RBC Capital Markets, Stifel Financial, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Williams Capital Group, and William Blair & Co.

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