Snapchat said to have filed a confidential IPO

Steven Loeb · November 16, 2016 · Short URL:

The company could be valued at $25 billion, making it the biggest US-based tech IPO since Facebook

The rumored Snapchat IPO , which would be the biggest offering in years and a potential jumpstart for the dormant IPO market, may already be on its way here.

The company has filed  with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, according to a report out from Reuters on Tuesday.

Typically such an announcement wouldn't be up in the air; either there would be an S-1 or there wouldn't be. However the company has reportedly used a provision in the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act, which allows companies to file to go public without letting anyone know about it. 

Only companies with less than $1 billion in revenue can file this way. The JOBS Act loosened regulations for what it called "emerging growth companies," which only applies to companies that make that much in revenue.

Twitter took advantage of it mere months before its IPO date, as did TruliaBox did the same thing last year.

A spokesperson for Snapchat declined to comment on the report. 

Reports of Snapchat, or Snap as it has been known since it changed its name while launching a hardware division, began surfacing in October.

The company could be going public as soon as March of 2017, and the IPO would potentially value Snap at $25 billion. When Snapchat last raised funding, a $1.8 billion round in May of this year, had valued Snapchat at $20 billion; it had been valued at $16 billion last year.

Snap makes the majority of its money from ad revenue, and is growing by leaps and bounds year-over-year. 

Leaked financials from earlier this year showed Snapchat growing its revenue by more than 8x from the beginning of 2015 to the end, going from $4 million Q1 to $33 million in Q4, for $59 million total.

The company has told its investors that it expects revenue of between $250 million and $350 million in 2016, and a report from eMarketer last month predicted that the company will see $366.69 million in ad revenue this year, and then $935.46 million in 2017.

Going from what it made in 2015 to what it generated in 2017, that would be a 1,485 percent increase in revenue in just two years. 

Snapchat began its advertising push in 2014, when it started running ads in its Recent Updates section. In January of last year it launched the Discover feature, as a sway for editorial teams to put up their own Stories, which also, of course, include advertisements. 

Snap has also experimented with other ways to make money beyond advertising.

In November of 2014, Snapchat teamed with Square for the launch of a payments feature called Snapcash. The company has also attempted to make money from commerce, selling its users extra features, such as paid replays, which allow users to rewatch content for a fee. Not all of these efforts have worked out, though.

For example, the company launched the lenses store in November, charging users 99 cents to permanently buy one of 30 available lenses. Snapchat shut down the project in January, instead focusing on branding efforts. That is the same thing that it did with its Discover feature as well, selling sponsored channels. 

Its most recent experiment in commerce, the one that necessitated its name change, was the release of Spectacles, sunglasses with an integrated video camera that makes it easy to create Memories.

Of course, there's no guarantee that Snapchat will go through with its plans to go public, but if it does, it will be the largest tech IPO since Alibaba went public in 2014 for $168 billion. It would also be the largest U.S.-based tech IPO since Facebook went public in 2012 at a valuation of $81.2 billion

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