Snapchat chose the road of independence and venture capital over dancing with Internet giants like Facebook and Alibaba, and in the process its founders may have just become billionaires.
Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has agreed to invest $20 million in Snapchat in a round that values the ephemeral messaging service at a remarkable $10 billion, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal that cites people familiar with the matter.
It seals Snapchat’s place as one of the world’s most valuable private tech startups, despite the fact that it has yet to make a penny in revenue. It also makes it very possible that founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy are now billionaires, based on their shares in the company they founded. We estimated in our 30 Under 30 cover story on Snapchat that the duo each still owned about 25% of the company in back December 2013.
Though they have sought further funding since then from hedge fund Coatue Management and now Kleiner, they likely haven’t diluted their stakes significantly since then.
Earlier this month, for instance, we reported that Snapchat had mysteriously authorized the sale of 17.4 million shares at just $0.001 each. Those 17.4 million shares represented a relatively small, 3-5% stake in Snapchat, according to VC Experts analyst Justin Byers — and if that investment was tied to Kleiner’s new funds, it suggested Spiegel and Murphy have yet held on to a decent chunk of equity.
Funding since last December would have had to dilute their stakes to below 10% to keep from qualifying as dollar billionaires, which again is unlikely.
According to a separate report, Snapchat’s user base has grown to 100 million monthly active users as it explores nascent business models such as advertising, money-transfer and content discovery.
Last month Bloomberg reported that Snapchat, which had spurned a $3 billion takeover offer from Facebook last December, was in talks with Alibaba over a funding round that would also value it at a much-higher $10 billion. Weeks later, reports indicated those talks had broken down.
Now it appears Snapchat held firm on the reported-$10 billion valuation, but with the same, storied venture capital firm best known for backing Facebook, Google GOOGL -0.17%, Zynga and Amazon.
Snapchat till now had raised $163 million in five funding rounds from seven investors, including $50 million from hedge fund Coatue Management.