Culture

Snap loses $2.2 billion (yes, billion) in earnings debut

While most of those losses came from stock payouts, the pressure of Facebook and Instagram loom.

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It's about time we get to see Snap unfiltered.

The social media app and "camera company" behind Snapchat is a cryptic one. Hell, if you're over the age of 35, you probably don't even know how it works.

And while we got a sense of its performance in over the past two years through its Securities and Exchange Commission filing for its initial public offering, Snap's first-ever quarterly earnings report released Wednesday offers a glimpse into how it's doing now.

The big question has been whether Snap will sink or swim against social media sharks like Facebook. The hype around Snapchat's ability to attract teens and millennials propelled the company ahead of its IPO. But the company faces stiff competition from Facebook and its Instagram unit, which aren't afraid to play copycat.

The imitation game might have taken its toll. Snap posted daily active users of 166 million, jumping up from the 150 million active users it had during its IPO and 122 million from a year ago.

But in comparison, Instagram said in April that it had more than 200 million users on Stories.

Snap said on Wednesday that it lost $2.2 billion, or $2.31 a share, compared with a loss of $104.6 million, or 14 cents a share, the previous year. Why the crazy big loss? The results include nearly $2 billion in stock-based payouts.

Revenue rose nearly four-fold from a year ago to $149.6 million. The company said its average revenue per user rose to 90 cents, or nearly triple its year-ago average revenue of 32 cents. Snap Chief Financial Officer Andrew Vollero confirmed that its Spectacles glasses generated more than $8 million in revenue.

"It's a modest program," Vollero said in a conference call with analysts.

Analysts, on average, forecast a loss of 19 cents a share on revenue of $158 million, according to Yahoo Finance. Wall Street projections usually strip out numbers like stock-based compensation.

In its IPO filing, Snap revealed that it had not been profitable since beginning commercial operations in 2011, with an accumulated deficit of $1.2 billion. Snap makes most of its money from advertising, but also told investors that it "may never never achieve or maintain profitability."

Shares dropped 23 percent to $17.73 in pre-market trading. That's down from its its IPO day closing price of $24.48 back in March.

This story was originally published at 1:30 p.m. PT.
Update at 2:10 p.m. PT: To include additional background and comment from a Snap executive.

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