In this Motley Fool Money podcast segment, host Chris Hill, Million Dollar Portfolio's Jason Moser and Matt Argersinger, and Total Income's Ron Gross consider the business model problems of Snap Inc. (NYSE:SNAP) as it delivers its second-ever earnings report as a public company. User growth is slowing, the business is having trouble explaining what it wants to become, and management looks to be in over its head.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Aug. 11, 2017.
Chris Hill: Snap's second-quarter results were weaker by pretty much every measure, and when it came time for the conference call, Snap's management, Jason, didn't exactly help things.
Jason Moser: Nope. Speaking of business-model problems, Ron, I think we have one here with Snap as well. I think if you're a Snap investor, you're going to want to pack a lunch, because this is going to be a while.
Hill: [laughs] Get comfortable?
Moser: Yeah. I think we're hoping, at least going into this quarter, that perhaps management would have learned from their first call last quarter how to maybe communicate a little bit better with investors. And really, the cadence of this call was such that it sounded like they couldn't get out of there fast enough. So, I mean, user growth is slowing down. This is not going to be a platform for the masses. I think we all knew that. That's OK. You can still exist as a business. The problem is, they're not really very good at articulating what they want to be. We know Snapchat the app, but Snap the company is supposed to be a camera company. And that could very well be fine and dandy, but typically hardware, cameras, those are a race to the bottom. Evan Spiegel is notorious for wanting to play his cards close to his vest, and I think that's fine, but if he wants to do that, it's going to be a trade-off, and it's going to reflect in the stock price until they can actually demonstrate some resilience and show us there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This is going to be a business that will not hit profitability for a long time to come. And listen, I know this is the first earnings call I ever heard "dancing hot dog." And that really kind of set the tone for the entire thing, because he used it right in the first three minutes of the call!
Hill: So this is a new little video emoji?
Moser: Yeah, it's a filter that they have or something. This little dancing hot dog just took the world by storm, apparently. But I don't know that you can really monetize a dancing hot dog, unless you're having your ad sponsored by Oscar Meyer or something.
Ron Gross: You're not thinking outside the box, Jason.
Moser: I mean, it's not to say they can't be a successful business. They certainly can. But I think you could make the argument that they went public too early. You could definitely make the argument that it's not a shareholder-friendly company with the share class. And you could definitely make the argument that management, at this point, is clearly in over their heads. So it's going to be a long time here before I think we really see a meaningful opportunity for Snap. But hopefully next quarter, they take some lessons and improve.
Matt Argersinger: After seeing Snap, you see Blue Apron, and I wonder, if you're a company like Airbnb or Uber, even, at this point, or Lyft, where you have this enormous private market valuation, do you want to go public at all? Especially if venture capitalists and private investors are willing to give you tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to run the business. Why go public?
Moser: I think it's worth noting, Evan Spiegel was given the opportunity, he had a major bonus to take the company public. So there was, obviously, a self-serving dynamic there. I can't necessarily say I blame him. It was something like $800 million. But again, I think these guys went public probably before they should have, because there's not really any clearer sense as to what this business is or what it wants to be.
Argersinger: Or you can almost say they went public too late with a lot of these companies. Five years ago, when Snap had 50 million users, I would say it could have been a situation where it was still growing. But now it's at this point where it's not growing.
Moser: I'm sure there will be better days. But even today's valuation with that sell-off, the stock just looks way too optimistic.