Snap, formerly Snapchat, have filed a public IPO.
In the summer we reported on the rumours of Snap setting its sights on an initial public offering (IPO). Then they filed a confidential IPO before Christmas. Now Snap has finally filed for their IPO, at $3 billion, choosing to list on New York Stock Exchange.
Forgetting the extraordinarily huge IPO of Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) in 2014, this is one of the most anticipated technology stock-market debuts since 2012. It is significant in terms of the recent lack of confidence in IPO markets, due to a lull in activity and disappointing revenue, that characterized last year. Barely more than 100 companies listed their stocks in the US in 2016. The industry will hope that other companies take heart and follow suit.
Their debut on the stock market could happen as soon as March. It will be interesting to see whether Snap draws Trump’s ire. To say there is uncertainty surrounding Trump’s support of the tech world is an understatement but Snapchat has already “lifted some previous restrictions, allowing marketers to target customers using email databases and other data sources.” This moves towards Trump’s probable policy to use data extensively.
Now rebranded as Snap, the company are signalling they are more than an app. Snap have slightly changed direction recently so are now staying on message as a camera company, rather than a messaging company. They are undertaking soft launches for hardware and branching out into wearable technology. Introducing Snap glasses, Spectacles are camera-equipped sunglasses selling at $130. These have been sold at vending machines around California which is good for two reasons. One, by keeping quantity low and slow there is less risk and they can test consumer reactions. Two, a queue to buy a pair of Spectacles turns the trial into a trend. This taps into social media as many who purchase the product photograph themselves wearing the item; it is a statement piece.
They will wish to avoid Twitter’s (NYSE:TWTR) trajectory that was promising but never delivered on its growth potential. Twitter has been harmed by a nasty reputation for internet trolls using the site as their main forum to directly attack people. Twitter relied too heavily on advertising sales which is a trap Snap plan to avoid. According to Bloomberg, “Snapchat’s user gains are slowing. For investors, that might draw parallels to Twitter”. For Mark Hawtin, GAM Investment Director, talking to Bloomberg, “one of the biggest concerns for the city will be the lack of profitability”.
The public IPO filing was made on Thursday, forcing the notoriously secretive company to reveal their financials. They have had to balance their wish to remain as closed as possible with the need to participate in the major marketing machine most companies utilize in their campaign. There are still many unknowns and a rumour floating around that this is all an elaborate ploy, to issue an ultimatum to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), to buy them instead.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Emma Harwood, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.