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Category winner: Snap Inc.’s IPO (A)

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This case won the Finance, Accounting and Control category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2020. #CaseAwards2020

Presentation of the trophy for the Finance, Accounting and Control category 2020
Finance, Accounting and Control 

Celebrating the win

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we were unable to present Marco in person with his trophy for winning the Finance, Accounting and Control category in 2020.

Even though we couldn't make it to Boston, the trophy has!

We are delighted to celebrate Marco's win by sharing this picture of him with his award - congratulations!

Discover more about the winning case below.

Find out more about the Case Awards here.

The case

SnapchatWho – the protagonist

Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, founders of Snapchat, which later became Snap Inc. (Snap).


Snapchat is the hugely popular app that enables users to share self-deleting pictures.

By 2017, the app had 158 million daily active users. The Snapchat app remained its core product but Evan and Robert rebranded the company, as it wanted to reinvent what the camera represented.


Evan and Robert took the decision to list Snap on the New York Stock Exchange in a highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO).

Snap priced its IPO at $17 per share – a valuation of $25 billion. Some thought this was too conservative while others believed it too high as the company had posted losses of $515 million in 2016.

New York Stock ExchangeWhen?

It was 1 March 2017 when Snap’s IPO went out.


Snap is a California-based entity after the founders met at Stanford University.

Key quote

“We rebranded our company to Snap Inc. because we are bigger than just one app…Snap Inc. is a camera company – we believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.” – Snap Chief Strategy Officer, Imran Khan.

SnapchatWhat next?

Many questions remained. How much was Snap truly worth? Would Snap deliver on its growth? How concerning were its governance issues?

Interested in finding out more?

Download the case and teaching note

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Snap Inc.’s IPO (A)
Ref 9-218-006

Teaching note
Ref 5-218-091

The author


Marco Di Maggio

Marco discusses why his case has proved popular in the classroom and what challenges he had to overcome during the case writing process.

Making the case method work for you

Marco said: “Since I have a PhD but not an MBA, my first encounter with the case method was as a professor.

“I was always concerned that the way I saw the cases, what might work and what might not work, as well as, the most effective way to convey the main teaching objectives, would significantly differ from the students’ view of these issues. And honestly, I still worry about that with any new case.

“This award provides some evidence that over time I have learnt to see the class dynamics through their eyes. Not without the help of many of my more experienced colleagues.”

Case popularity

Figures on a stock market screenHe added: “I think this case has been popular for two key reasons. Firstly, it is a new company that many students are familiar with, and the case offers the opportunity to have an under the hood look at the business.

"Secondly, there is some ‘drama’ both with the ups and downs of the company since IPO, for example with the stock price fluctuating in response to changes in the influencers’ appetite for using Snap, as well as with a surprising moment related to the IPO, that I won't unveil here but that is detailed in the teaching note.”

Challenges to overcome

Marco concluded: “The case is also built to show the uncertainties surrounding the valuation of an early-stage and unprofitable enterprise. The main challenge was to show all the assumptions needed and the short-cuts used in practice, without having the students losing faith in the valuation methodology.”

About the author

Marco Di Maggio is Ogunlesi Family Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
e mdimaggio@hbs.edu
tw @ProfDiMaggio


View all the 2020 winners