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You will soon be able to purchase a piece of Snapchat, but you may want a peek at its numbers first.
Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, officially released its public filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission to a staggering, expected initial public offering (IPO) valuation north of $25 billion.
The social media app considers itself “a camera company,” and believes reinventing the camera is its greatest opportunity to “improve the way people live and communicate.” Snapchat launched just five years ago and gained notoriety in part because of its unique method of sharing short disappearing video clips. It has since expanded its revenue streams by adding news, increasing advertising, and selling its Spectacles eyeglasses.
Snap believes the camera will be the starting point for a number of products for smartphones, similar to how the flashing cursor was the starting point for products on the desktop.
That belief seems to be paying off. While the company still lags behind in users to Instagram and Facebook, it was able to boost its annual revenue to $404 million from just $58.6 million in 2015. Its daily active users also grew by 50 percent year-over-year to around 160 million. For comparison, Instagram has around 400 million daily active users, whereas Facebook has more than 1 billion.
But Snapchat runs into the Twitter issue—its losses are still growing—from $373 million in 2015, to $514 million last year. In the “risk factors” section of its S-1, the company admits it expects to incur operating losses in the future, and may never achieve or maintain profitability.
It doesn’t help that the product it released to lower its reliance on the hugely competitive online ad space hasn’t fared very well. Snap says the launch of Spectacles has not generated significant revenue for the company, and that it cannot “guarantee that investing in new lines of business, new products, and other initiatives will succeed.”
But the company that refused a $3 billion Facebook buyout in 2013 looks poised to take more chances. According to the S-1, the company may introduce significant changes to exiting products or develop and introduce new and unproven products, such as the Spectacles or other technologies.
And it won’t have to filter everything through its stock owners, because Snap is taking the unorthodox route of not giving owners voting rights. This means the board at Snap, led by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, will still get to call the shots.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.