Snap Inc., the parent to popular social media app Snapchat, has confidentially filed for an initial public offering. The Venice, CA-based tech company reportedly hopes to raise $4 billion in its IPO, leading to a valuation of between $25 billion and $35 billion.
That valuation would imply an extremely rich multiple compared to its revenues. In 2015, the company generated only $59 million in revenue, while for 2016, Snap estimates revenue between $250 million and $350 million, according to documents cited by TechCrunch. For 2017, it's expecting revenue in a range of $500 million to $1 billion.
"Investors won't be looking at revenue for this year; they'll be asking, what happens after [the IPO]?" said Kathleen Smith, chairman of Renaissance Capital, a manager of IPO-focused ETFs.
But Snap's projected 2017 revenue of $1 billion still equates to a multiple of 25x to 35x based on the IPO's implied valuation. "That's pretty high," Smith added. "When you look at other tech companies, they aren't trading at that multiple."
"It's going to be one of the more pricey IPOs in a long time," Smith said. The closest comparison in recent memory is e-commerce company Alibaba's (BABA) IPO in 2014, which was the largest in history, ultimately raising $25 billion and valuing the Chinese firm at $168 billion. That valuation represented about 19.5x its most recent annual revenues.
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