Comcast's (CMCSA) - Get Report NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snapchat parent company Snap(SNAP) - Get Report during its IPO on Thursday on the NYSE, helping shares of the popular social platform rise 44% on its first day of trading, CNBC reported on Friday. After one day on the market, that $500 million investment has already turned into about $720 million, although the company agreed to hold the shares for at least one year.
"It is rare to have the opportunity to invest at this stage in a company as visionary and dynamic as Snap, and it is a compliment that they chose NBCU as a partner," NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke wrote in a letter sent to employees this morning that was forwarded to TheStreet.
NBCUniversal is the only new strategic investor for Snap, although Alibaba(BABA) - Get Report and Chinese investment holding company Tencent (TCTZF) had invested in the company before it went public, CNBC said. In addition, NBCUniversal is the only America media company to take a stake in the company thus far, a vote of confidence that should calm some fears about Snap's rich valuation, which stands at more than $34 billion.
The move appears to be in line with NBCUniversal's recent bets in the digital media space under Burke, who took on the CEO position in 2011 and also serves as Comcast executive vice president. Including its Snap investment, the company has spent $1.5 billion on digital assets in just the past year-and-a-half.
"Our partnership with Snap builds on our strategy to drive digital growth for our business, both organically and through investments and acquisitions," Burke wrote.
Similar investments for the company include $400 million in BuzzFeed since late 2015, $200 million in Vox in August 2015 and the acquisition of a website geared toward local youth sports teams, SportsEngine, in July 2016.
Learning about this deal is going to be a "wakeup call" for some investors who already shorted Snap, TheStreet's Jim Cramer said on CNBC's Squawk on the Street on Friday morning. "There's going to be a lot of deals announced with media companies," he claimed.
Snap seems to be working on turning its platform into something similar to Viacom's(VIAB) - Get ReportMTV channel to diversify from its original use as a messaging and photo sharing app, Cramer continued. One day people could go on Snapchat to watch a branded NBCUniversal channel. This potential to expand beyond its initial purpose is why so many investors are willing to make a bet on it. "Snap is not going to look like it does now," he said.
NBC already partnered with Snap during the Rio Olympics in August 2016 to make a pop-up Discover channel that showed content produced by BuzzFeed, resulting in more than 2 billion views. And the company already has plans to partner with BuzzFeed and Snapchat again for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. In addition, NBC has three episodic series running now on Snap, including The Voice, Saturday Night Live and E! News' The Rundown, along with plans for more.
Burke seems to be thinking of future projects with the platform, calling Thursday's investment "a significant milestone in our growing partnership with Snap" in his letter.
Snap's platform is important for NBCUniversal because it provides direct access to coveted millennials. Advertisers and content producers have been worried that they're not reaching the 18-to-24 age group through traditional media. In the letter to employees, Burke noted that Snap was an "extremely innovative and relevant company, attracting a massive, dedicated and young audience."
Snap did not immediately return TheStreet's request for comment.