Snapchat files for IPO as $SNAP - looks to raise $3 billion

Snapchat parent Snap Inc. filed its highly anticipated public IPO filing late Thursday, reporting strong revenue gains but slowing user growth as it plans to sell only non-voting shares.

Los Angeles-based Snap had revenue of $404.5 million in 2016, up from $58.7 million in 2015.

The developers of the popular Snapchat app are continuing their offensive of innovation ahead of an expected IPO float in March with a new update for the company's premiere app set to open up new channels of advertising using augmented or mixed reality.

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Snap will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SNAP.

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Snap claims 158 million daily users and said over 2.5 billion Snaps are created every day. Will it spur a stampede of tech unicorns going public?

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"We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way that people live and communicate", the company said in its filing.

If the stock performs well, Snapchat's IPO could encourage other billion-dollar tech startups to go public. Snapchat says on its website that it reaches 41 percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States.

The company has also introduced a product called Spectacles, or sunglasses that can be used to make Snaps.

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But while Snapchat's enigmatic allure with teens has been its secret weapon until now, if Snap wants to grow as a public company, it has to expand beyond its young, though demographically enviable, existing user base. According to the filing, Snapchat's daily users who are 25 years old or older check it 12 times a day for a total of 20 minutes, whereas daily users who are under 25 years old check it more than 20 times a day for a total of more than 30 minutes spent in the app.