Snap IPO set for photo finish

Snap is set to stage one of the largest IPOs in recent years despite being yet to post a profit or launch a product on a large scale

Snap came to prominence with popular messaging app Snapchat, which deletes images once viewed

Snap, the company behind the wildly successful app Snapchat, is expected to launch its IPO in March after recently making a formal announcement to regulators. While it will likely debut with one of the largest valuations in recent years, it will have to overcome unprofitability and find new revenue sources to impress investors.

As reported by the BBC, Snap is expected to be valued between $20bn and $25bn through the offering, with the company seeking to raise $3bn through the sale of shares. Unusually, the shares will not provide voting rights, with the company’s founders retaining full control.

Snapchat offers a more playful and ephemeral alternative to Facebook and Twitter

Snapchat first became popular in 2013 and has since captured an incredibly large user base, with The Economist reporting the app is used daily by around 41 percent of Americans aged 18-34. The app is characterised by deleting images after viewing, offering a more playful and ephemeral alternative to Facebook and Twitter.

More recently, the company has sought to position itself as a “camera company” instead of a social network. Last year, the company rebranded as Snap, reflecting its ambition to diversify its product range. The move came as the company released a limited number of camera-equipped sunglasses called Spectacles. The gadget received praise from both analysts and public alike, though it is yet to be rolled out in large numbers.

However, the company will need to become profitable in order to replicate the success of brands like Google or Facebook. While Snap made $404m last year, the company’s losses totalled $515m. Snap currently sources the majority of its revenue from in-app advertising, however a mainstream roll-out of Spectacles or another device could make hardware a big part of its business.

With a more diversified business and a strong focus on user retention and engagement, Snap will be hoping to avoid the pitfalls that befell Twitter after its IPO. In 2013, Twitter debuted at $26 per share and closed its first day of trading at $44.94. Currently, its shares are sitting slightly above $17.50 as the company struggles to grow its user base and find a consistent revenue stream.

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