Snap

Introduction 

What’s a company like Snap worth? Into 2019, there’s no answer in sight. Early 2019 has analysts “troubled” over Snap after top executives abruptly left the company. Tim Stone, the company’s chief financial officer, resigned in January after less than one year into his role. The latest executive departure from Snap overshadowed its Q4 report, which exceeded analysts’ expectations. A strong Q4 performance and a timely redesign helped send the stock past its March 2017 IPO price. But Snap’s overall 2017 financials were disappointing. Revenue barely reached half of some investors’ $1 billion expectations. Q1 in 2018 was also lackluster, falling short of analyst expectations for revenue and user activity. After five years on the stock market, Twitter just turned its first profit. Is Snap headed in the same direction as Twitter, or will it keep running red ink?  

To learn more about the company, its history and current trends, read Snap’s history below. 

Timeline 

2011 

Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel (Retrieved from Snap) 

 

Evan Spiegel launches Snapchat in July. It holds around 1,000 daily active users and is only available via Apple’s iOS mobile platforms. 

2012 

Early in the year, the app surges to 100,000 users. In April, with $485,000 in support from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Snapchat adds video to its original photo tools. The app expands to Google Android devices. It closes out 2012 with 1 million daily active users.  

2013 

Snapchat secures $13.5 million in funding from Benchmark Capital. The app is reportedly valued at more than $70 million. In October, “My Story” (later known as “Stories”) is added as a new platform for photos and videos. In December, Smart Filters also let users add information to their pictures, such as the time and temperature. 

2014 

Snapchat finally adds a “chat” feature, allowing users to trade messages. The platform hits 50 million users, with a boost from its first paid ads. Its latest round of funding includes a $485 million investment from Kleiner Perkins Caulfield, putting the company’s worth above $10 billion.  

2015 

Snapchat unveils its Lenses feature. With facial-recognition technology, users are now able to add virtual reality elements to their photos, such as animal ears. 

2016 

With 100 million users to its name, Snapchat estimates 7 billion video clips are viewed from its app on a daily basis. In its last round of financing before going public, Snap raises $1.8 billion, including $169 million from four mutual funds run by Fidelity Investments. 

2017 

March 2 is Snap Inc’s first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. After its initial IPO price of $17, the stock increases to $24 per share. The parent company of Snapchat is valued at $34 billion.  

Outside of Snap Inc.’s own brass, venture capital firms Benchmark and Lightspeed earn huge paydays, holding a combined 20% of the company prior to the IPO. 

The first three quarters of 2017 are disappointing. While some investors think Snap could be a $1 billion business, it has yet to prove that. Snap only brings in $539 million through November. That same month, Snapchat rolls out a massive redesign, with a personalized content algorithm. 

2018 

Two months after the redesign, Snap lays off two dozen employees, mostly in its content division. Snap also redoubles efforts to attract publishers for its Stories in Discover feature, adding a new manager of media partnerships. 

In February, Snap reports better-than-expected Q4 earnings, with a 72% jump in sales compared to the previous year. The company adds nearly 9 million active daily active users, bringing its base to 187 million in total. Those figures send Snap stock shares up more than 25%. On the publishing front, the Q4 report notes 40% growth in Stories on Discover since the redesign took place. 

For Q1 of 2018, Snap falls short of Wall Street expectations on both revenue ($230.7M actual vs. $244.5M expected) and users (191 million actual vs. 194.15 million expected). On May 1, the stock continues to fall to $11.77, more than $5 lower than the $17 IPO price. 

One week after the May earnings news, Snap announces it is appointing ex-Amazon executive Tim Stone as its new CFO. His salary is set at $500K, with $20 million in restricted stock units. 

Snap’s stock price declined nearly 60% after its first day of trading (Retrieved from Recode)

2019 

In January, chief financial officer Tim Stone abruptly resigns following the departure of Snap’s vice president of content, chief strategy officer and vice president of hardware. Wall Street analysts note they are “troubled” by the news, and that this is a “clear negative” for the company. Since its IPO, Snap continues to lose more than $20 billion in value and these high-level departures could signal more damage to the company. 

In February Snap reports Q4 earnings that have topped analysts’ revenue and bottom-line expectations. The report also highlights that daily active users have steadied after declining the previous two quarters.  

For more information about Snap and the future value of Snap’s stock, refer to pgs. 47 & 64-66 in The Strategic Digital Media Entrepreneur. 

Sources for Snap timeline: 

Snapchat: An Abridged History 

http://fortune.com/2017/02/04/snapchat-abridged-history/

A timeline of Snap’s advertising, from launch to IPO 

https://www.axios.com/a-timeline-of-snaps-advertising-from-launch-to-ipo-1513300279-61f0898d-b874-48bc-ae31-a7394f22ef0c.html

Snapchat’s Daily Mobile Video Views Said to Rival Facebook’s 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-11/snapchat-s-daily-mobile-video-views-said-to-rival-facebook-s

The Snap IPO means a huge payday for two VC firms 

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/02/snap-ipo-huge-exits-for-lightspeed-benchmark.html

Snap stock is down big after reporting less revenue — and fewer users — than Wall Street expected 

https://www.recode.net/2017/11/7/16618132/snap-snapchat-q3-earnings-revenue-stock-2017

Snapchat starts algorithm-personalized redesign splitting social and media 

https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/29/snapchat-redesign/

EXCLUSIVE: Snap Lays Off Two Dozen Employees 

https://cheddar.com/videos/exclusive-snap-lays-off-two-dozen-employees

As Facebook retreats from publishers, Snapchat is rolling out a publisher charm offensive 

https://digiday.com/media/snapchat-rolling-publisher-charm-offensive/

Snap Shares Pop as Revenue Rises 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/snap-sales-and-user-growth-pick-up-but-loss-deepens-1517952079

Snap shares sink 16 percent as redesign weighs on results 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-snap-results/snap-shares-sink-16-percent-as-redesign-weighs-on-results-idUSKBN1I24C6

Snap Q4 2018 earnings 

https://www.businessinsider.com/snap-q4-2018-earnings-snapchat-2019-2

Wall Street weighs in on abrupt departure of top Snap executives  

https://www.ft.com/content/27be4fa8-19b9-11e9-9e64-d150b3105d21

Snap has lost more than $20 billion in value since its IPO 

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/16/snap-has-lost-more-than-20-billion-in-value-since-its-ipo.html