Messaging app Snapchat has filed for an initial public offering (IPO), moving a step closer to the biggest US stock market debut since 2014, Reuters reported. The Venice, California-based company could go public as soon as March and be valued at $20 billion to $25 billion.
This would make it the largest IPO since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd went public two years ago valued at $170.9 billion. It would be the largest US technology IPO since Facebook Inc’s debut in 2012 with a value of $81.2 billion.
Snapchat’s possible IPO is seen by many investors as a bellwether for many of the largest so-called ‘unicorns’ or venture-backed companies that are valued at more than $1 billion.
Also nicknamed ‘decacorns’, these companies are valued in the tens of billions of dollars. They include Snapchat, car-sharing company Uber and home-sharing firm Airbnb.
No decacorn has yet tested the public market, and it is unproven whether they can beat or even replicate such astronomic valuations with more scrutinizing public investors. And the market for technology IPOs for this year has been rocky, with investors left skittish due to volatile technology stock performance and uneven returns from recent IPOs.
Snapchat started in 2012 as a free mobile app that allows users to send photos that vanish within seconds. It has more than 100 million active users, about 60% of whom are aged 13 to 24, making it an attractive way for advertisers to reach millennials.
In September, the messaging app said it will soon roll out Spectacles, a sunglass that has a small camera capable of recording 10-second video clips.
The long-rumored camera glasses, Snapchat’s first hardware product that is expected to be priced at $130, can shoot first-person bursts of circular, wide-angle videos.
It is seen as an ambitious move by Snapchat—just a few years after Google pulled back from Glass after consumers voiced privacy concerns about the eyewear’s camera.