This article was updated on April 6, 2017, and originally published on Nov. 16, 2016.
In 2013, Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel reportedly turned down an offer from Facebook (META 2.48%) to buy the messaging app for around $3 billion. The founder, who was 23 years old at the time, raised more than a few eyebrows for rejecting the offer.
But Spiegel's bet has since paid off as the social network's valuation has soared. Snapchat priced its initial public offering (IPO) at $17 a share, or a market value of $24 billion. Here's what investors should know about Snapchat's IPO.
When did Snapchat go public?
Snapchat went public on March 2, selling shares of its company, Snap Inc. (SNAP 2.09%), under the ticker symbol SNAP on the New York Stock Exchange.
Interestingly, Snap stock comes with absolutely zero voting rights -- a first for any publicly traded company.
The IPO was big
Snap was 2017's biggest IPO and it was the biggest technology IPO in the U.S. since Alibaba's IPO in 2014 -- an incredible feat considering Snapchat has yet to report a profit. Snap's IPO, however, still significantly lagged Facebook's, which was priced at $38 per share, or a market capitalization of about $104 billion.
However, while the Snap IPO was big, it wasn't as big as expected.
Snapchat was speculated to potentially price its initial public offering at a valuation as big as of $25 billion to $35 billion, Bloomberg reported before the IPO. But Bloomberg's sources also said the "valuation could reach as much as $40 billion."
Even without achieving a valuation this steep, Snap's $24 billion IPO clearly justified Speigel's earlier decision to turn down Facebook's $3 billion offer in 2013.
Snapchat is growing incredibly fast
With Snap's S-1 filing for its IPO now made public, one thing is clear: Snapchat's revenue is soaring. Snapchat generated $405 million of revenue in 2016, up from $59 million in 2015. For 2017, Snap expects revenue of as much as $1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
But there's a dark side to this rapid growth. Snap continues to lose money -- lots of it. In 2016, Snap lost $515 million, worse than its $373 million loss in 2015. And the company expects more losses in the future, according to its S-1 filing.
For some context, Twitter (TWTR) and Facebook had revenue of $108 million and $3.7 billion, respectively, in 2011. Today, the trailing-12-month revenue for each company is $2.5 billion and $27.6 billion, respectively.
But investments in the two social network stocks have fared very differently. Twitter is now trading below its IPO price, and Facebook stock is up about 270% since its IPO. Further, Twitter continues to lose money, with a loss of nearly half a billion dollars in the trailing 12 months, or $0.65 per share. Facebook, on the other hand, has seen its net income soar, with a profit of $10.2 billion in the trailing 12 months, or $3.49 per share.
Instagram and Snapchat are direct competitors
Snapchat's IPO is of particular interest to Facebook investors because Snapchat and Facebook's Instagram are undoubtedly vying for a similar audience.
The head-to-head competition between Snapchat and Instagram became particularly evident when Instagram launched Stories, a feature enabling users to create a story of their day throughout their days, in August 2016. The new Instagram feature, which was almost an exact replication of a feature of the same name on Snapchat, proved to be a raging success. Facebook said in its third-quarter earnings report in 2016 that Stories has garnered 100 million daily active users. And the stories format generated 150 million daily active users by the end of the fourth quarter of 2016.
For now, Instagram has a significant lead over Snapchat. Instagram has over 400 million daily active users -- well over the 158 million daily active users Snapchat had at the end of 2016. But some Facebook investors may be concerned that funds raised in a Snapchat's initial public offering could help catalyze the smaller platform's growth and potentially even threaten Instagram's dominance.
Twitter should watch out
Twitter investors, too, might want to keep an eye on Snap. While Snapchat's offering differs immensely from Twitter's news-focused platform, Snapchat has notably made moves into news by compiling user-posted videos into live event coverage. Further, it's worth noting that Snapchat's 158 million daily active users is above Twitter's estimated 140 million daily active users. So Snapchat isn't necessarily an underdog compared to Twitter.
Snap wants to be more than Snapchat
With an IPO behind it, it's likely that Snap's ambitions will reach beyond a chatting app. The company first made this clear when it changed its name to Snap Inc. in 2016 and launched its first hardware product, Spectacles.
Priced at $130, Spectacles are sunglasses capable of recording 10-second snippets of video. While the product itself could end up more of an overhyped gimmick than a game changer, it at least gives weight to the company's aspirations beyond Snapchat.
Spiegel explained the new direction in a blog post:
When we were just getting started it made sense to name our company Snapchat Inc., because Snapchat was our only product! Now that we are developing other products, like Spectacles, we need a name that goes beyond just one product -- but doesn't lose the familiarity and fun of our team and brand.
By tapping into new funds from an IPO, Snap will almost certainly double down on these "other products" it is developing.
Ultimately, with Snapchat now backed by its publicly traded parent company Snap, Inc., Facebook and Twitter investors may want to pay closer attention to Snapchat. And Snap investors should realize what they're up against in Facebook's Instagram, which is much bigger than Snapchat.