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Case
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Reference no. 9-218-006
Authors: Marco Di Maggio
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: 2018
Version: 8 March 2018
Revision date: 26-Apr-2018
Length: 38 pages
Data source: Published sources
Topics: Finance

Abstract

On March 1, 2017, Wall Street investors focused their attention on Snap Inc (Snap). Best known for its Snapchat app, which allowed users to share self-deleting pictures, Snap would make its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) the following morning on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Snap had surprised the markets, pricing its IPO at USD17 per share, an implied valuation of ~USD23.6 billion. Some industry observers believed that Snap priced the IPO conservatively in order to attract investors who might be squeamish of a 'too rich' price. Others pointed out that Snap's IPO was rumored to be heavily oversubscribed, and at USD17 per share Snap was issuing shares at essentially the same valuation as its most recent funding round. Investors remained torn on the true value of Snap. It boasted a strong, predominantly millennial, user base with 158 million daily active users (DAU) - 58% more than Twitter had at the time of its IPO. Snap had also demonstrated its ability to develop creative products such as its My Story and Spectacles. But many investors remained skeptical of Snap's long-term viability. For starters, Snap remained unprofitable and continued to burn a significant amount of cash. Therefore, the majority of its valuation was based on the expectation that Snap would be able to monetize its mobile advertising products and grow its user base. Snap also faced significant competition from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter among a host of others. Additionally, Snap's unprecedented decision to issue shares with zero voting power left the young founders, Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, in complete control of the business. As the market awaited the opening bell, uncertainties lingered: Were the young founders prepared to tackle the challenges Snap faced and the pressures of running a public company? What was the true value of Snap? Was the IPO priced right, or would the share price jump on opening day?

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Abstract

On March 1, 2017, Wall Street investors focused their attention on Snap Inc (Snap). Best known for its Snapchat app, which allowed users to share self-deleting pictures, Snap would make its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) the following morning on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Snap had surprised the markets, pricing its IPO at USD17 per share, an implied valuation of ~USD23.6 billion. Some industry observers believed that Snap priced the IPO conservatively in order to attract investors who might be squeamish of a 'too rich' price. Others pointed out that Snap's IPO was rumored to be heavily oversubscribed, and at USD17 per share Snap was issuing shares at essentially the same valuation as its most recent funding round. Investors remained torn on the true value of Snap. It boasted a strong, predominantly millennial, user base with 158 million daily active users (DAU) - 58% more than Twitter had at the time of its IPO. Snap had also demonstrated its ability to develop creative products such as its My Story and Spectacles. But many investors remained skeptical of Snap's long-term viability. For starters, Snap remained unprofitable and continued to burn a significant amount of cash. Therefore, the majority of its valuation was based on the expectation that Snap would be able to monetize its mobile advertising products and grow its user base. Snap also faced significant competition from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter among a host of others. Additionally, Snap's unprecedented decision to issue shares with zero voting power left the young founders, Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy, in complete control of the business. As the market awaited the opening bell, uncertainties lingered: Were the young founders prepared to tackle the challenges Snap faced and the pressures of running a public company? What was the true value of Snap? Was the IPO priced right, or would the share price jump on opening day?

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