Snapchat, the social-network messaging app that turned down an offer three years ago from Facebook to be acquired for $3 billion, has filed for an initial public offering, Reuters reported Nov. 15.
The wire service said Snapchat, which has about 100 million users worldwide, could go public as soon as March and be valued at $20 billion to $25 billion, making it the largest initial public offering since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's (BABA.N) went public in 2014 valued at $170.9 billion.
It potentially could be the largest U.S. technology IPO since Facebook Inc's debut in May 2012 with a value of $81.2 billion.
Venice, Calif.-based Snapchat has quietly filed its S-1 form with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the U.S. Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. Companies with less than $1 billion in revenue can secretly file for an IPO, allowing them to quietly test investor appetite while keeping financials confidential.
Snapchat is a mobile app that that lets users, mostly teenagers—mostly girls (70 percent of Snapchat's users are female)—add captions to photos or videos and share them with friends, and then make the content disappear. Photos can only be sent in the moment—no uploading later. Young girls take pictures of themselves making silly faces, Carlos Danger types may send more lascivious content, and then poof—the content is gone, unless the recipient grabs a screenshot.
About 60 percent of Snapchat users are age 13 to 24, making it an attractive way for advertisers to reach millennials.
A spokesman for Snap Inc, Snapchat's parent company, declined to comment.
In 2016 to date, 123 U.S. technology companies have gone public, raising $7.1 billion, a 58 percent decline in proceeds and 20 percent drop in the number of offerings from this time last year, Reuters said.
Snapchat raised $1.81 billion in May, which valued it at about $20 billion.