Inside the quirky world of Snapchat

An afternoon with Snap Spectacles
An afternoon with Snap Spectacles

The world inside Snapchat is even quirkier than you'd expect.

Snap -- as Snapchat's parent company is known -- filed a 244-page document Thursday afternoon, detailing its plans to go public. It revealed some delightful and strange insights into the young firm.

Power at the top

The company's cofounders -- CEO Evan Spiegel and chief technology officer Robert Murphy -- have set themselves up to have iron-fisted control over the company.

Regular investors will have no voting rights, which is highly unusual. The two cofounders will have the majority of the voting shares, which gives them control over matters like executive pay and potential mergers.

Additionally, these special voting rights will continue to be valid for nine months after the death of either Spiegel or Murphy. So it's possible that Spiegel's fiance -- supermodel Miranda Kerr -- could inherit his stake in the business and wield a significant amount of power over Snapchat's fate.

Snap declined to comment beyond what was in its filing.

Security concerns

The company is intent on keeping Spiegel alive and well. Snap spent $890,339 on his personal security last year, nearly three times what it spent in 2015.

Meanwhile, his salary was just north of $500,000 and his bonus for the year was a cool $1 million.

Murphy makes $250,000 a year, but the document didn't mention a bonus.

Chief strategy officer Imran Khan received about $5.5 million in total compensation -- most of it from a massive bonus.

Office politics

Snap listed a number of risk factors that could hurt the company's growth, which is normal in a filing.

But one risk was quirky. It warned that its lack of a designated headquarters may "negatively affect employee morale." Snap is based in Venice, California, but its offices are spread throughout the city, a setup the company said may limit social interaction and oversight of employees.

Ad dependency

The vast majority of the company's sales comes from advertising, and Snap saw advertising revenue grow more than sixfold in 2016 compared to 2015.

But that still wasn't enough to turn a profit -- it lost $515 million last year.

"We have incurred operating losses in the past, expect to incur operating losses in the future, and may never achieve or maintain profitability," the firm warned.

Value of a Snapchatter

The company made just over $1 per user last year, which was a big improvement compared to 2015 when it made $0.31 per user.

North American users are particularly valuable. They're worth $2.15 per year.


The company got really personal when it talked about poop in the filing.

Snap said that people tend to "eat, sleep and poop" with their smartphones, which is an asset for advertisers who want constant access to its audience.

The firm said it wants to "serve advertisements that are personal and respectful of context."

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