Investor appetite proved high as Snap, the owner of the popular messaging app Snapchat, celebrated its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares soared following an IPO pricing above target range.
On the first day of trading, Snap Inc.'s shares rocketed higher on Wall Street, jumping by 45.1 percent to $24.69 per share from the level set in the initial public offering on Wednesday night.
In a clever marketing move, Snap called itself a camera company and not just a firm running a messaging service. Analysts said it did so to make it appear different from Facebook and Twitter and the success and failure of their respective IPOs.
High investor demand for Snap shares had driven the IPO price above the initially expected range of $14 to $16, the social media company said on Wednesday, earning the California startup about $3.4 billion in cash from the sale of about 200 million shares.
According to Snap's IPO filing last month, the Snapchat app - known for its disappearing messages - is used by 158 million users daily, with more than 2.5 billion Snaps being created every day. In 2016, the company garnered revenues of $404 million but lost $515 million.
Snap's IPO order book was more than 10 times oversubscribed and could have allowed the company to price its shares at as much as $19 a share. But the company wanted to focus on securing mutual funds as long-term investors rather than hedge funds looking to quickly sell.
The share sale was also a first test of investor appetite for a social-media app after the market for technology IPOs hit the brakes in 2016, marking the slowest year for such launches since 2008.
Although Snap went public at a much earlier stage in its development than its two rivals Twitter or Facebook, the 5-year-old company is valuing itself at nearly 60 times revenue and more than double the 27 times revenue Facebook fetched when it went public in 2012.
Founders get rich
Snapchat has become hugely popular with young smartphone users keen to share messages that don't stay on the web for long. Moreover, it offers facial filters suited for jazzing up selfies.
In fact, a smartphone's camera is already Snapchat's main focus, with even CEO Evan Spiegel calling it a "camera company" in the IPO filing. As a result, it launched Spectacles last year - actual physical sunglasses that snap photos for you.
In addition, Snapchat has been expanding its partnerships to offer a variety of content from media groups such as Vice, CNN and the New York Times. It said it expected to derive most of its revenue from advertising, where it will compete against rivals such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Following the IPO, dozens of Snap's original investors will become millionaires overnight. Co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy will each be selling 16 million shares in the IPO, earning them $272 million apiece.
Moreover, 26-year-old Spiegel will continue to hold a stake of about 17 percent in the company, valued at $4.05 billion.
uhe/kd (AFP, AP, Reuters)