Snapchat debuted on the New York Stock Exchange as SNAP today, opening at $24 per share. Last night, the company set its price per share at $17, valuing the company at $24 billion. The valuation is now closer to $33 billion.
There are lots of elements about this company that have investors salivating. Its user base of over 150 million selfie-snapping millennials. Its revenue, which in the span of a year jumped from $59 million to $404 million. And then there’s its strange attempt to morph from a social platform into a newfangled camera company by developing new hardware in the shape of spectacles that post video to the platform (and possibly drones).
The IPO is also a sprinkle of rain amid a dry spell for tech sector public offerings and investors seem especially keen to get a little wet.
Of course, there are also major drawbacks to Snap. For one, as its S-1 states, the company “may never achieve or maintain profitability.” The company also acknowledges that competing products, like Instagram Stories, may impact its user growth and overall bottom line. Snap’s losses are mounting, not decreasing. In 2015, it reported losses of $372.9 million; a year later it documented a loss of $514.6 million. Plus, user growth stagnated in the final quarter of last year. Then there’s CEO Evan Spiegel’s unusual grip on the company’s voting stock.
While there’s plenty of reason to stay as far away from Snapchat stock as possible, there is still the reality that this silly, cool app has defied the odds to reach the point that it’s at today. A few years ago, many were dismissing it as a fad. It’s possible the company’s real value may be in its ability to keep both investors and spectators on their toes.