Prince Alwaleed Buys A 2.3% SNAP Stake, As Snapchat Users Shrink For The First Time Ever


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Having spent an extended period of time as a “guest” in the Riyadh Ritz Carlton in late 2017, when he was “shaken out” for an unknown amount by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a “crackdown on corruption”, before reaching an amicable if unknown settlement, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is once again back on the investing scene, and two days after he announced that he had spent $266.7 million to buy shares in French music streaming service Deezer through his Kingdom Holding Company and Rotana Group, moments ago the Saudi Prince – and Twitter investor – announced that he had purchased a 2.3% stake in Snapchat for $250MM at an average cost of $11/share.

From the press release:

HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz AlSaud acquired 2.3% of “Class A” shares in Snapchat, in a deal worth SAR 950 Million ($ 250 Million) through his Highness’ Private Office. This investment was built up and finalized on 25/05/2018 with an approximate average cost of $11 per share, which positions HRH Prince Alwaleed as a significant individual shareholder in this social media company. His investment in Snapchat is a continuation of HRH’s strategy to invest in new technologies and rounds out an already robust portfolio in some of today’s leading global technology companies, including Twitter, JD.com and Lyft.

HRH Prince Alwaleed met with Mr. Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, and Mr. Imran Khan, Chief Strategy Officer of Snapchat in 2015, when both visited Riyadh to explore future investment and business opportunities.

“Snapchat is one of the most innovative social media platforms in the world and we believe it has only just begun to scratch the surface of its true potential and we are blessed to be part of it,” says Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.

The announcement came just as SNAP reported that it became only the latest social-media company to post disappointing user growth in the second-quarter after sluggish numbers from Facebook and Twitter. The company reported that its number of daily active users fell by 2% to about 188 million, below the 193 million analyst estimate, and marked the first time the company has lost daily users since the company was founded in 2011.

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According to CEO Evan Spiegel, the decline “was primarily driven by a slightly lower frequency of use among our user base due to the disruption caused by our redesign,” although he added that “we feel that we have now addressed the biggest frustrations we’ve heard.”

Meanwhile, just like all the other “growth” companies, SNAP’s cash burning ways accelerated, and the company reported a net loss of $353 million, or 27 cents a share, beating analyst estimates of 31 cents, and compared with a loss of 36 cents a share a year ago. The company’s loss rose even as revenue grew 44% from the year ago period to $262.3 million, also beating estimates of $250MM.

The company also reported that its Q2 EBITDA was a negative ($169) million, a modest improvement from the ($194)MM  a year ago.

SNAP also burned $234MM in free cash flow, more than the $229MM it burned a year ago.

The company guided to Q3 revenue of between $265 million and $290 million, resulting in growth of between 27% and 39% compared to Q3 2017; the midpoint of the guidance was well below the Wall Street estimate of $289.9 million. Meanwhile, adjusted EBITDA loss is expected to be between $(185) million and $(160) million, compared to $(179) million in Q3 2017.

And in further trouble for the company, Vice’s Motherboard reported that “some” of the Snapchat iOS source code leaked earlier this year, which the company has confirmed. 

Snap asked Github to remove data with a copyright act request after it appeared there: “An iOS update in May exposed a small amount of our source code and we were able to identify the mistake and rectify it immediately,” a Snap spokesperson told Motherboard in an email

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“We discovered that some of this code had been posted online and it has been subsequently removed” the company said, adding that “this did not compromise our application and had no impact on our community.”

Even so, Vice reports that some researchers are still trading the data privately.

Despite the user growth decline and the miss on guidance, the stock is higher for now, probably as a result of the Alwaleed investment.




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