Snap Inc. is an American technology and social media company, founded on September 16, 2011 by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy and based in Venice, Los Angeles. It has four products: Snapchat, Spectacles, Bitmoji, and Zenly. The company was originally named Snapchat Inc. upon its inception, but it was rebranded on September 24, 2016 as Snap Inc. in order to include the Spectacles product under a single company.
The company was founded on September 16, 2011 by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, simultaneously on the initial relaunch of Picaboo as Snapchat. On December 31, 2013, the application was hacked and 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers were leaked to the Internet. Also in December 2013, Emily White, who had formerly been a high-profile executive with Facebook, Instagram, and Google, was hired as COO. Her tenure with the company ended in March 2015.
By January 2014, the company had refused offers of acquisition, including overtures from Mark Zuckerberg to buy Snapchat and its assets, with Spiegel commenting that "trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting". In May 2014, the company acquired the software company AddLive and reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) following the leak, citing misinterpretations on storage of user data and the fact that "snaps" can still be accessed regardless of its expiration. In December, the company acquired Vergence Labs for $15 million in cash and stock, who were the developers of Epiphany Eyewear, and mobile app Scan for $50 million, which was revealed during the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack.
In May 2015, the company moved from its original headquarters to a 47,000 ft2 (4,366 m2) office complex near Venice Beach and signed a 10-year lease. They were one of the first prominent social media companies to establish themselves there, alongside others such as Whisper and Tinder, giving Venice the new title of "Silicon Beach." In February 2017, two weeks before the company's IPO, The New York Times published a feature about Snap's role in turning the area into a technology hub, noting that Snap, with a total of 1,900 employees, had "already changed the face of Venice."
In March, July and August 2016, the company acquired Bitstrips for $100 million, Obvious Engineering, the developers of Seene, for an undisclosed amount and Vurb for $100 million. Vurb formerly developed the eponymous mobile search engine. The Vurb card-based engine removed the need to switch through multiple other applications on the device to perform a task.
In September, the company officially named itself Snap Inc., and unveiled smartglasses known as Spectacles. In November 2016, the company filed documents for an initial public offering (IPO) with an estimated market value of $25–35 billion. In December 2016, the company opened research and development in Shenzhen and acquired advertising and technology company Flite and Israel-based augumented reality startup Cimagine Media for $30–40 million. A partnership issued in December 2016 with Turner Broadcasting System will allow integration of Turner properties on Snapchat, while cooperating with Snap Inc. to develop original content.
In January 2017 the company announced that it had established an international headquarters in Soho, London. In early February 2017, the company officially confirmed their plans for an IPO in 2017 and its expectation to raise $3 billion. In early March 2017, the company officially went public under the trading symbol SNAP, and raised almost $30 billion in market capitalization on the first day of trading.
In late-May 2017, the company acquired the location sharing app Zenly in a cash and stock deal. The Zenly app will remain functional, but its concepts were incorporated into a Snapchat feature added in June 2017.
The company develops and maintains the image messaging and multimedia mobile app Snapchat, as well as develops and manufacturers the wearable camera called Spectacles, a pair of smartglasses that connect to the user's Snapchat account and records videos in a circular video format adjustable in any orientation. On February 20, 2017, Snap Spectacles became available for purchase online.
Funding and shares
Snapchat raised $485,000 in its seed round and an undisclosed amount of bridge funding from Lightspeed Ventures. By February 2013, Snapchat confirmed a $13.5 million Series A funding round led by Benchmark Capital, which valued the company at between $60 million and $70 million. In June 2013, Snapchat raised $60 million in a funding round led by venture-capital firm Institutional Venture Partners, and the firm also appointed a new high-profile board member, Michael Lynton of Sony's American division. By mid-July 2013, a media report valued the company at $860 million. On November 14, 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook offered to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion, but Spiegel declined the cash offer. Tech writer Om Malik then claimed on November 15, 2013 that Google had offered $4 billion, but Spiegel again declined. On December 11, 2013, Snapchat confirmed $50 million in Series C funding from Coatue Management. Four more funding rounds, from December 2014 to March 2016, amounted to approximately $1.2 billion and totaled funding at $1.36 billion. Beyond 2014, the company had achieved a valuation of $10–$20 billion, depending on the source. According to reports in May 2016, the company's estimated worth was said to be approaching $22 billion in the event of a new round of investment. Further reports in 2016 suggested that funding was almost at $3 billion and that Snapchat was targeting yearly revenues of a billion dollars.
2017 Initial Public Offering
In January 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that "people familiar with the matter" stated that Snap Inc. would share 2.5% of the money raised in an upcoming initial public offering (IPO) with the banks managing the IPO. It also reported that after the predicted March 2017 IPO, the two Snap co-founders would hold over "70% of the voting power" in the company, and own around 45% of the total stock. On January 29, 2017, it was reported that the Snap Inc. IPO would likely take place on the New York Stock Exchange. As both the NYSE and Nasdaq had been "aggressively courting the listing for more than a year," the Wall Street Journal called it "a big competitive victory for the Big Board." Snap's IPO was estimated to value the company at between $20 billion and $25 billion, the largest IPO on a US exchange since Alibaba debuted in 2014 at a value of $168 billion. Beyond the two founders, the two biggest shareholders for the planned early 2017 Snap IPO were Benchmark and Lightspeed Venture Partners, both prior investors and venture-capital firms from Silicon Valley. They held a combined stake of about 20%. On March 1, 2017, it was reported that Snap Inc. "values itself at nearly $24B with its IPO pricing". Snap Inc.'s stock started trading on March 2, 2017 under the symbol SNAP, on the New York Stock Exchange.
When Snap reported earnings for the first time in May, 2017 they reported a $2.2 billion quarterly loss and the stock fell more than 20%, erasing most of the gains since the IPO.
Google reportedly offered Snap $30 billion in 2016 for acquisition, which Snap turned down.
Reggie Brown lawsuit
In February 2013, Reggie Brown sued Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy. Early investors also were eventually named in the lawsuit. Brown said that he had once been the chief marketing officer for the initial selfie app used to launch Snapchat, offering evidence of contacts with publications such as Cosmopolitan, claimed that he had come up with the original concept, which he had ultimately called Picaboo, and that he had created the mascot logo for the product while working with Spiegel to promote and market the idea. Originally titled Toyopa Group, LLC, Brown said that he had named the newly formed company as well. Brown's lawyers offered documentation of a collaboration with Spiegel and Murphy, which included the filing of an original patent by the three Stanford classmates, but Snapchat described the lawsuit as meritless and called Brown's tactics a shakedown. During April's depositions, Brown testified that he had believed he was an equal partner, and that he had agreed to share costs and profits. Spiegel instead described Brown as an unpaid intern who had been provided valuable experience, and although Murphy claimed that he had not fully understood what Brown's role was supposed to have been, he too characterized Brown's involvement as having been that of an internship. Months later, Spiegel dismissed the lawsuit as an example of opportunists who seek out rapidly successful companies in an attempt "to also profit from the hard work of others".
On September 9, 2014, the company announced that they had settled the lawsuit filed by fellow student and former friend Reggie Brown for an initially undisclosed amount. The settlement amount was revealed on February 2, 2017 in Snap's SEC public filling to be $157.5 million. As part of the settlement, they credited Brown with the conceptual idea for Snapchat.
The press release published by Snapchat's communication department quoted Spiegel:
"We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter in a manner that is satisfactory to Mr. Brown and the Company. We acknowledge Reggie's contribution to the creation of Snapchat and appreciate his work in getting the application off the ground."
The Federal Trade Commission alleged that the company had exaggerated to the public the degree to which mobile app images and photos could actually be made to disappear. Following a settlement in 2014, Snapchat was not fined, but the app service agreed to have its claims and policies monitored by an independent party for a period of 20 years.