Is Snapchat A Car Crash Or A Long-Term Success Story?

Imagine if Evan Spiegel had appeared on "Dragons' Den" in the UK, or "Shark Tank" in the US, to pitch Snapchat? Here's a business you can invest in. It's only ever lost a lot of money, it's never made a dime in profit yet, and I am giving you a chance to share in its success.

The Snapchat co-founder would have been laughed out of the studio. As it is, he went to Wall Street and despite the much-talked-about "techlash," raised a bunch of cash. Before we look at the latest quarterly figures, it's worth considering what the company has done since raising the money.

We have a plan to launch more Spectacles in different colours, and apparently, better audio -- although the company has already written off $40m against their its incarnation due to poor sales. 

Then we have a redesign that brings us to the latest quarterly figures, which Sky News is blaming for new user subscriptions halving in the first quarter this year against the previous quarter, to just 4m. Revenue is up 50%, so the good news is that its losses are now being measured in hundreds of millions rather than billions. The revenue growth, however, didn't hit expectations -- and there's a warning this slide will continue in the second quarter. 

About the only thing Snapchat seems good for is uniting users against its new look. A million users, and counting, are pleading for a return to the old service. 

Oh, and just to put the knife in, even the social media influencers are ditching the platform for Instagram -- where the engagement and big money is. Roughly speaking, around nine in ten influencers are doing less on Snapchat, and around nine in ten marketers are spending more on Instagram -- partly by switching budget from Snapchat, one can surmise. 

Sky News has reported that Snap's share price is down around 16% in overnight trading, and one can only imagine what will happen to it in what will surely be a rough day of trading.

It's worth remembering that the share price -- at around the $14 mark -- is already very nearly half the $27 high we saw a year ago. A little poking around on the internet suggests that after this article is written in London, it could start today's trading in New York at around the $12 mark.

So there you have it. Ultimately what can't speak can't lie, as every Londoner loves to remind anyone who will listen. The data is the data. New users have halved in the last quarter and losses are lower, but revenue growth is below expectations and seems to be set to continue that way. Influencers are walking away from the platform, and the share price at the end of today will show whether investors are following suit.

On the plus side, and for balance, the latest figures for Snapchat from eMarketer suggest that US ad revenue will be up 82% to hit just over a billion dollars in 2018, and in the UK it will make $1.35bn this year -- a near doubling of last year's figure. So revenue is forecast to move in the right direction. 

Today, however, we will see whether the promise of jam and honey by the end of the year is enough. I suspect not -- and I expect to see many investors to show Snap how they feel. 

It's a tough year ahead for Snap, and it will be praying that those eMarketer figures are correct because it's going to need a good quarter at some stage and it certainly isn't coming today -- and from the warnings, it won't be coming in three months' time either.

1 comment about "Is Snapchat A Car Crash Or A Long-Term Success Story?".
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  1. PJ Lehrer from NYU, May 11, 2018 at 4:36 p.m.

    Better to put your money on Instagram.  More here...

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