Snap as YouTube 2.0

Now that we’ve had a chance to puzzle over the Snap roadshow (you can see the Snap slides here and we have done a full transcript of the Snap roadshow) there are a few more things to say about the deal:

  1. Snap is trying to shift from being a product to being a company. It will take time to find out whether they can do it. That does underscore just how pivotal this IPO is for the company. For example, Facebook made the transition while GoPro, Twitter, Fitbit and Groupon have not.
  2. As we noted in our The Skinny on the SNAP S-1 they are positioning themselves as a “camera company” rather than “social media.” There’s more detail in the roadshow about what this might mean in terms of content. Snap might be more about how we reimagine “TV” rather than pictures, messages and status updates. Hence the title of this post.
  3. This short-form video content is a mix of professionally produced material and user-generated content. The result is different, engaging and unique to the platform. Organizations like the BBC, ESPN, Comedy Central and HBO are creating some of the professional content that users are viewing on Snap. It’s early days but it feels like YouTube 2.0.

The roadshow video is weird. It’s patterned like the Facebook IPO video which is more talking heads and fewer traditional slides. We expect some parody versions to be produced or at least hope so. For example a great weight is given to the insight that they put pictures in chronological rather than reverse chronological order. (!) You can certainly feel the youth and “freshness” of the company in how they present the story.

Of course, the preliminary deal terms are now set. The company is offering 200m shares (145m primary and 55m selling shareholders) with a price range of $14 to $16. That’s a $3B deal at the mid-point. Post-IPO SNAP will have 1.16B shares outstanding for a $17.3B market capitalization.

Institutions are looking at SNAP valuation differently. Typical PE and DCF approaches are not very instructive. A more useful consideration is how valuable Snap might be as a platform. Back in 2006 Google bought YouTube for $1.65B which seemed like a lot at the time. But then Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1B, and then in 2014 bought Oculus for $2B and WhatsApp for a staggering $19B. In that context, the $17B SNAP valuation doesn’t seem unreasonable.

On the operating side we have Twitter. Many feel that Twitter has not really succeeded as a company. However, they book $2.5B in revenue in 2016. Their current market capitalization is only $12B (@$16/share) but for nearly two years after their IPO TWTR stock traded between $40 and $60 which was a $53B to $78B market capitalization.

Right now it’s all about the opportunity. Snap represents “something new” that has some serious traction in a market where companies like Google and Facebook have figured out how to leverage something new into $90B and $27B in revenues and $580B and $385B in terms of market capitalization respectively.

For those that *believe* that SNAP may enjoy as much success as the TWTR IPO the $15 mid-point looks cheap. We’ll know more as we get closer to pricing. The show is just starting!

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