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Snapchat IPO Valued at Up to $40 Billion

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the social media juggernaut Snapchat has filed to go public at the jaw-dropping valuation of up to $40 billion.

Snap Inc., the Venice, California parent of Snapchat, has hired the top-tech investment banker team of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to lead its initial public offering.

In an early demonstration of the heavy demand for the shares, the Wall Street new offering selling group includes JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG, Allen & Co., Barclays Plc and Credit Suisse Group AG.

Although the company’s annual revenue is less than $1 billion, it is believed that Snapchat’s U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission registration statement will value the company at between $25 billion to $35 billion. Although the company’s last private equity funding valued Snap at $18 billion, Bloomberg suggests the company may be able to raise up to $4 billion in cash at a valuation of $40 billion.

The four-year-old messaging service is stomping all social media competition, with a 27 percent daily user growth rate. Many brokerage analysts are blaming Twitter’s stock value being cut in half from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2016, to Snapchat passing Twitter’s daily user count by 15 million. With its market share continuing to erode against Snapchat, Twitter has failed thus far in its recently announced effort to find a deep-pocket merger partner.

Snapchat has made social media communicating more of a game by encouraging millennials to send annotated selfies and short videos. Its imaging software allows users to swap faces in a photo, transform themselves into puppies, and vomit rainbows. The company encourages users to log in frequently with features such as the “Snapstreak,” which displays the number of consecutive days they sent messages to their closest friends.

Snapchat’s strongest draw for investors is its dominance in the 12-to-34-year user old age group, which values its short-lived messages that permanently disappear in 24 hours or after viewing. A third of Snapchat’s U.S. user base is between 18 and 24 years-old, and 27 percent of users are between 25 and 34. Snapchat’s fastest growing demographic is the under 12-year-olds, which is growing at the stunning rate of 43 percent this year.

Advertisers crave access to these youth demographics, because they generally do not have strong loyalty to traditional social networks. Snapchat is seen by marketers as engaging in more intimate one-to-one or one-to-few communications, versus Facebook’s broadcast-style sharing across an entire network.

Snapchat’s latest innovation is its just released video-streaming “Spectacles” sunglasses that CEO Evan Spiegel calls a potentially disruptive way for the company to become even more deeply entrenched in its youth demographic.

“Spectacles” were initially panned, with lots of nasty comments after a review by the Wall Street Journal blog. But the negative reaction may have reflected the older age of Journal readers. Comments on youth sites like marysue.com and thenextweb.com went viral, indicating that Snapchat’s first hardware product could generate huge demand from Snapchat’s target demographic.

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