The Snap Chat Boys Are Now Billionaires

02 Mar, 2017

Snap Inc. will make its debut as a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday morning.

The parent company of Snapchat priced an initial public offering of 200 million shares at $17 apiece. That raised $3.4 billion for the company and some investors, and gives Snap a valuation of nearly $24 billion.

The stock is indicated to open at between $23.50 and $24.50 a share, as of 10:49 a.m. ET.

Snap’s cofounders Evan Spiegel, 26, and Robert Murphy, 28, rang the opening bell on the exchange earlier Thursday. At the IPO price, Spiegel’s stake in the company is worth at least $4.5 billion. Murphy’s stake in Snap is valued at closer to $3.9 billion.

The shares will open for trading after a period of “price discovery” during which traders on the floor of the exchange try to corral demand for the stock. How long that will take isn’t predictable, NYSE’s CEO Tom Farley said on CNBC.

Farley said it took over two hours for Alibaba Group’s 2014 IPO, which was the largest ever, to open for trading. Small deals, by comparison, can take as little as 20 minutes, he added. Snap’s will be the first tech IPO of the year, the first offering from a social network since Twitter went public, and the largest tech deal since Alibaba went public in 2014.

Snap is going public at an opportune time. Stock benchmarks hit record highs on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above the 21,000 mark for the first time.

Since it was launched in 2011, Snapchat has matured from a sexting app to one that still deletes messages by default, but is a viable competitor to companies like Facebook and Twitter. According to its IPO prospectus, it posted a net loss of $514.6 million in 2016 and warned that it may never be able to achieve or maintain profitability. It earned $404.4 million in revenue in 2016, up from $58.6 million in 2015.

During the roadshow, investors raised questions about the slowdown in the rate of active users, and how much potential Snapchat has as an advertising platform. Snap said its biggest revenue opportunity is the growing budget for worldwide mobile advertising, which could reach $196 billion by 2020 from $66 billion now.

Snap’s stock will trade under the ticker SNAP. The shares offered to investors will have no voting rights.

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