Snapchat: a fortune foretold and a future untold
Freshly out this morning from CNBC:
Morgan Stanley analysts downgraded Snap on Tuesday, a day after the shares fell below their IPO price of $17. This is particularly insulting because Morgan Stanley took the Snapchat parent public, and therefore priced the IPO at $17 a share. The analysts are separate from the underwriters, but it still creates an awkward appearance.
It's ironic to see Snap being downgraded by the same bank that took its parent public. Kudos to Morgan Stanley for maintaining a high level of objectivity among its investment banking and research departments (CFA's Research Objectivity standards, anyone?)
We have been wrong about SNAP's ability to innovate and improve its ad product this year (improving scalability, targeting, measurability, etc.) and user monetization as it works to move beyond 'experimental' ad budgets into larger branded and direct response ad allocations."
As many monkeys and humans on WSO predicted, the Snap fad would burst very soon. It was just the matter of how soon. During pre-IPO time, we knew Snapchat wasn't making money, targeting a niche market, and going IPO at a ridiculously high multiple compared to its peers. All the hype was mostly about Snapchat's ability to capture its niche market in the digital advertising/social media market.
After the IPO, we have learnt that Snap's Stories feature (bread and butter) has been easily copied by Facebook and even Microsoft. Although Snap prides itself for constantly being copied by giants in the industry, it actually doesn't give itself a lot of branding power. What's good about the business then if its core feature is turning into a commodity? More critically, its business model is not as versatile as rivals like Facebook because Snap doesn't store users' snapped data. If it decides to store those data one day, that decision will just defeat the purpose of using Snapchat (privacy, spontaneity, etc.)
What's the future for Snap then? What's the catalyst to turn it around and gain a major position in the market ? Will it be bought out eventually? What's the consensus on mid/long-range price target?