Amid talk of an initial public offering, SnapChat raises $537.6 million

A possible $16 billion valuation makes the app maker among the world's most valuable startups.

Max Taves Staff Reporter
Max writes about venture capitalism and startups while seeking out the new new thing to come out of Silicon Valley. He joined CNET News from The Wall Street Journal, where he contributed stories on commercial real estate, architecture, big data and more. He's also written for LA Weekly, Slate and American Lawyer Media's The Recorder, where he covered legal battles in Silicon Valley. Max holds degrees from Georgetown University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Max Taves
Terry Collins
2 min read

Millennials and deep-pocketed investors have escalated Snapchat's valuation. Snapchat

Already flush, Snapchat just got more cash.

After raising $200 million in March, the photo-messaging app has raised an additional $537.6 million, according to government documents released on Friday.

Those securities filings suggest that Snapchat might pull in another $112.3 million in funding, bringing its total for this year alone to $850 million. CNBC reported that the latest funding values the company at a whopping $16 billion.

If true, not only would that make the 4-year-old company one of the most valuable venture-backed startups in the world, behind Uber and smartphone maker Xiaomi, but also it would place Snapchat firmly in the company of a select handful of apps that have ridden virality to stratospheric valuations.

Founded in 2011, Snapchat allows users to take photos and videos that self-destruct after a set time, and the app has seen a meteoric rise in its popularity, powered especially by a key advertising demographic: teenagers and millennials in the developed world. According to research firm ComScore in March, 71 percent of its US users are 18 to 34 years old.

That was enough to attract Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, who was said to have offered $3 billion to buy Snapchat in 2013. Snapchat demurred.

Since then, messaging services have become some of the most highly valued startups in the industry. Last year, Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp, a service that started as a way to help people text one another cheaply.

Snapchat isn't just raising money, though. On Tuesday, Snapchat's 24-year-old CEO, Evan Spiegel, disclosed publicly for the first time that the company is mulling going public.

A report in January concluded that 200 million people actively use Snapchat, up from 100 million users last August. That's still far less than WhatsApp's 800 million active users or even the 600 million people who use Facebook's own chatting service called Messenger.

Still, the hype around Snapchat has helped the company raise cash from some big names in Silicon Valley. Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers invested $20 million within the last year when the company was then valued at $10 billion. And Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba made a $200 million investment in the company in March that valued the company at $15 billion.

Though Snapchat knows how to raise cash, it still hasn't figured out how to make it. The company has generated little revenue, despite various efforts to attract advertisers. In January, it launched a feature called Discover, delivering videos created by major companies such as CNN, Yahoo News, National Geographic, the Food Network and ESPN, among others.