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Snap is latest tech spectacle at nearly $24 billion

Snapchat's parent company prices at $17 a share and will start trading Thursday.

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Snapchat is expected to go public this week.

James Martin/CNET

Snap's long-awaited market debut is almost here.

The parent company of Snapchat priced on Wednesday its initial public offering at $17 per share, valuing the company at nearly $24 billion. Shares will start trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SNAP.

Snap expects to raise around $3 billion in its IPO. It plans to use those funds to do things like hire more people and make acquisitions. The pricing values the company above the range of $19.5 billion to $22.2 billion it reported in a filing last month.

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Snap's debut on the New York Stock Exchange ushers in a new era for the young Los Angeles-based company, which at first had to fight to be taken seriously. The app, started by 26-year-old Stanford dropout Evan Spiegel, lets people post photos and videos that self-detonate after a period of time. So when the app first came out, much of the press and Silicon Valley observers derided it as a sexting app.

But it was much more than that. In reality, Snap marked the emergence of casual social networking: Since posts quickly disappeared, people didn't have to worry about their photos and videos being impressive enough to stand the test of time. Instead they felt more comfortable posting anything, from the mundane to amusing.

Because of that, young people love it. Nearly 70 percent of all 18- to 24-year-olds in the US use the app, according to ComScore.

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