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EX-32.1 - EX-32.1 - Snap Incsnap-ex321_6.htm
EX-31.2 - EX-31.2 - Snap Incsnap-ex312_7.htm
EX-31.1 - EX-31.1 - Snap Incsnap-ex311_8.htm
EX-23.1 - EX-23.1 - Snap Incsnap-ex231_721.htm
EX-21.1 - EX-21.1 - Snap Incsnap-ex211_556.htm
EX-10.29 - EX-10.29 - Snap Incsnap-ex1029_720.htm
EX-10.28 - EX-10.28 - Snap Incsnap-ex1028_719.htm
EX-10.26 - EX-10.26 - Snap Incsnap-ex1026_798.htm

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM                      TO                     

Commission File Number 001-38017

 

SNAP INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

45-5452795

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

63 Market Street, Venice, California 90291

(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)

(310) 399-3339

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per share

New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit and post such files). YES  NO 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

  

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by checkmark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). YES  NO 

The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based on the closing price of the shares of Class A common stock on The New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2017, was $11,487,095,467.

As of January 31, 2018, the registrant had 887,610,964 shares of Class A common stock, 122,808,708 shares of Class B common stock, and 216,615,870 shares of Class C common stock outstanding.

 

 

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

Page

Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

 

1

Note Regarding User Metrics and Other Data

 

2

 

 

 

 

PART I

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

4

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

9

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

36

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

36

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

37

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

37

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

37

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

39

Item 7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

42

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

62

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

63

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

97

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

97

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

97

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

98

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

104

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

116

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

118

Item 14.

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

119

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 

120

Signatures

 

 

 

123

 

 

i


 

NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

The following discussion contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, about us and our industry that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including statements regarding our future results of operations or financial condition, business strategy and plans, and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “target,” “will,” or “would” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions.

We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy, and financial needs. These forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, including risks described in “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K regarding, among other things:

 

our financial performance, including our revenues, cost of revenues, operating expenses, and our ability to attain and sustain profitability;

 

our ability to attract and retain users;

 

our ability to attract and retain advertisers;

 

our ability to compete effectively with existing competitors and new market entrants;

 

our ability to successfully expand in our existing markets and penetrate new markets;

 

our ability to effectively manage our growth and future expenses;

 

our ability to maintain, protect, and enhance our intellectual property;

 

our ability to comply with modified or new laws and regulations applying to our business;

 

our ability to attract and retain qualified employees and key personnel; and

 

future acquisitions of or investments in complementary companies, products, services, or technologies.

We caution you that the foregoing list may not contain all of the forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

You should not rely on forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We have based the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K primarily on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects. The outcome of the events described in these forward-looking statements is subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors described in “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all risks and uncertainties that could have an impact on the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The results, events, and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements may not be achieved or occur, and actual results, events, or circumstances could differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements.

In addition, statements that “we believe” and similar statements reflect our beliefs and opinions on the relevant subject. These statements are based on information available to us as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. And while we believe that information provides a reasonable basis for these statements, that information may be limited or incomplete. Our statements should not be read to indicate that we have conducted an exhaustive inquiry into, or review of, all relevant information. These statements are inherently uncertain, and investors are cautioned not to unduly rely on these statements.

1


 

The forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K or to reflect new information or the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as required by law. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions, or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, joint ventures, or investments.

Investors and others should note that we may announce material business and financial information to our investors using our investor relations website (investor.snap.com), SEC filings, webcasts, press releases, and conference calls. We use these mediums, including Snapchat and our website, to communicate with our members and the public about our company, our products, and other issues. It is possible that the information that we make available may be deemed to be material information. We therefore encourage investors and others interested in our company to review the information that we make available on our website.

NOTE REGARDING USER METRICS AND OTHER DATA

We define a Daily Active User, or DAU, as a registered Snapchat user who opens the Snapchat application at least once during a defined 24-hour period. We measure average Daily Active Users for a particular quarter by calculating the average Daily Active Users for that quarter. We also break out Daily Active Users by geography because certain markets have a greater revenue opportunity and lower bandwidth costs. We define average revenue per user, or ARPU, as quarterly revenue divided by the average Daily Active Users. For purposes of calculating ARPU, revenue by user geography is apportioned to each region based on our determination of the geographic location in which advertising impressions are delivered, as this approximates revenue based on user activity. This allocation differs from our revenue by geography disclosure in the notes to our consolidated financial statements, where revenue is based on the billing address of the advertising customer. For information concerning these metrics as measured by us, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

Unless otherwise stated, statistical information regarding our users and their activities is determined by calculating the daily average of the selected activity for the most recently completed quarter included in this report.

While these metrics are determined based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates of our user base for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring how our products are used across large populations globally. For example, there may be individuals who have multiple Snapchat accounts, even though we forbid that in our Terms of Service and implement measures to detect and suppress that behavior. We have not determined the number of such multiple accounts. Our user metrics are also affected by technology on certain mobile devices that automatically runs in the background of our Snapchat application when another phone function is used, and this activity can cause our system to miscount the user metrics associated with such account. Changes in our products, mobile operating systems, or metric tracking system, or the introduction of new products, may impact our ability to accurately determine Daily Active Users or other metrics and we may not determine such inaccuracies promptly. We believe that we don’t capture all data regarding all our Daily Active Users. For example, technical issues may not record data from every user’s application. While we believe this underreporting is generally immaterial, we are unable to precisely determine the level of underreporting and for some periods the underreporting may be material. We continually seek to address these technical issues and improve our accuracy, but given the complexity of the systems involved and the rapidly changing nature of mobile devices and systems, we expect underreporting to continue. We do not adjust our reported metrics to reflect this underreporting.

Some of our demographic data may be incomplete or inaccurate. For example, because users self-report their dates of birth, our age-demographic data may differ from our users’ actual ages. And because users who signed up for Snapchat before June 2013 were not asked to supply their date of birth, we exclude those users and estimate their ages based on a sample of the self-reported ages we do have. If our Daily Active Users provide us with incorrect or incomplete information regarding their age or other attributes, then our estimates may prove inaccurate and fail to meet investor expectations.

2


 

In the past we have relied on third-party analytics providers to calculate our metrics, but today we rely primarily on our analytics platform that we developed and operate. For example, before June 2015, we used a third party that counted a Daily Active User when the application was opened or a notification was received via the application on any device. We now use an analytics platform that we developed and operate and we count a Daily Active User only when a user opens the application and only once per user per day. We believe this methodology more accurately measures our user engagement. We have multiple pipelines of user data that we use to determine whether a user has opened the application during a particular day, and thus is a Daily Active User. This provides redundancy in the event one pipeline of data were to become unavailable for technical reasons, and also gives us redundant data to help measure how users interact with our application.

Additionally, to align our pre-June 2015 Daily Active Users with this new methodology, we reduced our pre-June 2015 Daily Active Users by 4.8%, the amount by which we estimated the data generated by the third party was overstated. As a result, our metrics may not be comparable to prior periods.

If we fail to maintain an effective analytics platform, our metrics calculations may be inaccurate. We regularly review, have adjusted in the past, and are likely in the future to adjust our processes for calculating our internal metrics to improve their accuracy. As a result of such adjustments, our Daily Active Users or other metrics may not be comparable to those in prior periods. Our measures of Daily Active Users may differ from estimates published by third parties or from similarly titled metrics of our competitors due to differences in methodology or data used.

3


 

PART I

Item 1. Business

Overview

Snap Inc. is a camera company. We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way that people live and communicate. Our products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.

Our flagship product, Snapchat, is a camera application that helps people communicate visually with friends and family through short videos and images called Snaps. Snaps are deleted by default, so there is a lot less pressure to look pretty or perfect when creating and sending images on Snapchat. By reducing the friction typically associated with creating and sharing content, Snapchat has already become one of the most-used cameras in the world. On average, 187 million people use Snapchat daily and create over 3.5 billion Snaps every day. According to InfoTrends, this is more than the total number of photographs taken on average across all phones, tablets, and digital cameras combined (excluding Snapchat) each day in 2017.

In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones. This is because images created by smartphone cameras contain more context and richer information than other forms of input like text entered on a keyboard. Given the magnitude of this opportunity, we invest heavily and take big risks in an attempt to create innovative and differentiated camera products that are better able to reflect and improve our life experiences.

Our Products

Camera: Snapchat opens directly into the Camera, making it easy to create a Snap and send it to friends. We offer a wide variety of creative tools, created by both us and our community, to make it easy for people to personalize and add context to their Snaps. Over one third of our Daily Active Users play with our augmented reality Lenses every day on average, and anyone can create their own Lens using our Lens Studio. Additionally, we also offer contextually relevant content and creative tools based on things like time, location, and objects.

Friends Page: The first version of our application was a chat service that made it easy to send Snaps back and forth with friends—hence the name “Snapchat.” Interacting with friends on Snapchat now includes creating and watching Stories, chatting with Groups, making voice and video calls, and communicating through a wide range of contextual stickers and Bitmojis. The content and ordering of the Friends page reflects the user’s relationships with their friends and family. This close friend network drives high frequency engagement and results in our community opening our application an average of 25 times per day.

Discover: With so many Snaps created every day around the world, Discover helps surface the most interesting Stories from publishers, creators, and the community, based on a user’s subscriptions and interests. With so much content to explore, our users spend an average of more than 30 minutes every day in our application.

Snap Map: Pinching on the camera screen brings you to a live map of your location, showing nearby friends, popular stories, and a heatmap of recent Snaps posted to Our Story. It’s a great way to see what your friends are doing and explore what is going on around the world.

Memories: Users can choose to save the Snaps they create in a searchable personal collection called Memories. Memories also lets users create Snaps and Stories from their saved Snaps as well as their camera roll.

Spectacles: One of the best ways to create Memories is by using Spectacles, our sunglasses that make Snaps. Spectacles connect seamlessly with Snapchat and capture video from a human perspective.

4


 

Our Business

We generate revenue primarily through advertising.

Advertising Products: Our ad products are built on the same foundation that makes our consumer products successful. This means that we can take the things we learn while creating our consumer products and apply them to building innovative and engaging advertising products familiar to our community. Sponsored Lenses take advantage of the reach and scale of our augmented reality platform to create visually engaging 3D experiences. Sponsored Geofilters help users create and send contextual Snaps with their friends, like showing that they are at a particular store or restaurant. Snap Ads and Promoted Stories let advertisers tell their stories the same way our users do, using full screen videos with sound. Attachments allow advertisers to attach additional experiences and actions directly within these ad units, including watching a long-form video, visiting a website, or installing an app.

Campaign Management and Delivery: We are always working to improve the way ads are bought and delivered. We are investing heavily in our programmatic and self-service tools, which provide for automated, sophisticated, and scalable ad buying and campaign management. This helps advertisers increase their return on investment by taking advantage of more refined targeting capabilities, the ability to test and learn with different creatives or campaign attributes in real time, and the pricing dynamics of our auction. Additionally, our delivery framework continues to optimize relevance of ads across the entire platform by determining the best ad to show to any given user based on their real-time and historical attributes and activity. This decreases the number of wasted impressions while improving the effectiveness of the ads that are shown to our community.

Measuring Advertising Effectiveness: We offer a broad range of third-party and first-party solutions to provide analytics on campaign attributes like reach, frequency, demographics, and viewability; changes in perceptions like brand favorability or purchase intent; and lifts in actual behavior like purchases, foot traffic, app installs, and online purchases. We are constantly expanding our capabilities in this area to provide more transparency to advertisers. For example, through our acquisition of Placed, Inc., a location-based measurement services company, we offer omni-channel measurement of store visitation, so that advertisers can measure the performance of their entire budget across all platforms and campaigns as it relates to the more than 90% of retail transactions that still happen offline in the physical world.

Our Strategy

Our strategy is to invest in product innovation and take risks to improve our camera platform. We do this in an effort to drive user engagement, which we can then monetize through advertising. We use the revenue we generate to fund future product innovation to grow our business.

We believe that the best way to compete in a world of widely distributed mobile applications is innovating to create the most engaging products. New mobile software is available to everyone immediately, and usually for free. While not all of our investments will pay off in the long run, we are willing to take risks in an attempt to create the best and most differentiated products on the market.

Due to the nature of our products and business, our ability to succeed in any given country is largely dependent on its mobile infrastructure and its advertising market. These factors influence our product performance, hosting costs, and monetization opportunity in each market.

Visual communication and augmented reality requires intensive processing and generates high bandwidth consumption by our users. As a result, our existing users tend to come from developed countries with high-end mobile devices and high-speed cellular internet. These markets also tend to have cheaper bandwidth costs, meaning that it is less expensive to serve our community in these countries. As we continue to grow in more markets around the world, we are investing heavily in making our service and technology more performant on lower end devices and working with carriers and other infrastructure partners to provide our service at a lower cost to our community.

Substantially all of our revenue comes from advertising, so our ability to generate revenue in a particular country depends on the size of its advertising market. Global advertising spend—especially mobile advertising spend—is extremely concentrated among top markets, and we see a high correlation between markets with significant and developed advertising markets and those that have a deep penetration of high-end mobile devices and high-speed cellular internet access. As such, we benefit greatly from the fact that many of our users are in markets where we have the highest capital efficiency and monetization potential, allowing us to generate revenue and cash flow that we can then invest into future product innovation.

5


 

Our Commitment to Privacy

Our approach to privacy is simple: Be upfront, offer choices, and never forget that our community comes first.

We built Snapchat as an antidote to the context-less communication that has plagued “social media.” Not so long ago, a conversation among friends would be just that: a private communication in which you knew exactly who you were talking to, what you were talking about, and whether what you were saying was being memorialized for eternity. Somewhere along the way, social media—by prioritizing virality and permanence—sapped conversations of this valuable context and choice. When we began to communicate online, we lost some of what made communication great: spontaneity, emotion, honesty—the full range of human expression that makes us human in the first place.

We don’t think digital communication has to be this way. That’s why choice matters. We build products and services that emphasize the context of a conversation—who, when, what, and where something is being said. If you don’t have the autonomy to shape the context of a conversation, the conversation will simply be shaped by the permanent feeds that homogenize online conversations.

When you read our Privacy Policy, we hope that you’ll notice how much we care about the integrity of personal communication. For starters, we’ve written our Privacy Policy in plain language because we think it’s important that everyone understand exactly how we handle their information. Otherwise, it’s hard to make informed choices about how you communicate. We’ve also created a robust Privacy Center where we show that context and choice are more than talking points. There, we point out the many ways that users can control who sees their Snaps and Stories, we explain how long content will remain on our servers, and much more. You’ll also find there our Transparency Report. We’re proud that we published our first Transparency Report just a few years into the company’s existence, long before most companies take that important step.

We also understand that privacy policies—no matter how ambitious—are only as good as the people and practices behind those policies. When someone trusts us to transmit or store their information, we know we have a responsibility to protect that information and we work hard to keep it secure. New features go through an intense privacy-review process—we debate pros and cons, and we work hard to build products we’re proud of and that we’ll want to use. We use Snapchat constantly, both at work and in our personal lives, and we handle user information with the same care that we want for our family, our friends, and ourselves.

Competition

We compete with other companies in every aspect of our business, particularly with companies that focus on mobile engagement and advertising. Many of these companies, such as Apple, Facebook (including Instagram and WhatsApp), Google (including YouTube), and Twitter, have significantly greater financial and human resources and, in some cases, larger user bases. Given the breadth of our product offerings, we also compete with companies that develop products or otherwise operate in the mobile, camera, communication, media, and advertising industries. Our competitors span from internet technology companies and digital platforms to traditional companies in print, radio, and television sectors to underlying technologies like default smartphone cameras and messaging. Additionally, our competition for engagement varies by region. For instance, we face competition from companies like Kakao, LINE, Naver (including Snow), and Tencent in Asia.

We compete to attract and retain our users’ attention, both in terms of reach and engagement. Since our products and those of our competitors are typically free, we compete based on our brand and the quality and nature of our product offerings rather than on price. As such, we invest heavily in constantly improving and expanding our product lines.

We also compete with other companies to attract and retain partners and advertisers, which depends primarily on our reach and ability to deliver a strong return on investment.

Finally, we compete to attract and retain highly talented individuals, including software engineers, designers, and product managers. Our headquarters in Venice, California and our other principal offices in the Los Angeles area offer certain advantages, such as lower local recruiting competition from other companies and providing an enticing location to live, as well as certain disadvantages such as the increased need to recruit remotely and requiring employees to relocate to the Los Angeles area. In addition to providing competitive compensation packages, we compete for talent by fostering a culture of working hard to create great products and experiences and allowing our employees to have a direct meaningful contribution to new and exciting projects. We had 3,069 employees as of December 31, 2017.

6


 

Technology

Our research and development efforts focus on product development, advertising technology, and large-scale infrastructure.

Product Development: We work relentlessly and invest heavily to create and improve products for our community and our partners. We develop a wide range of products related to visual communication and storytelling that are powered by a variety of new technologies.

Advertising Technology: We constantly develop and expand our advertising products and technology. In an effort to provide a strong and scalable return on investment to our advertisers, our advertising technology roadmap centers around improving our delivery framework, measurement capabilities, and our self-service buying and creative tools.

Large-scale Infrastructure: We spend considerable resources and investment on the underlying architecture that powers our products, such as optimizing the delivery of billions of videos to hundreds of millions of people around the world every day. We currently partner with providers like Google and Amazon to support the infrastructure for our growing needs. These partnerships have allowed us to scale quickly without upfront infrastructure costs, letting us focus our efforts on product innovation.

Our research and development expenses were $1.5 billion, $183.7 million, and $82.2 million in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively. For information about our research and development expenses, see “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Results of Operations—Research and Development Expenses” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Seasonality in Our Business

We have historically seen a high degree of seasonality in our business and financial results. Overall brand advertising spend tends to be strongest in the fourth quarter of the calendar year, and we have observed a similar pattern in our historical revenue. We have also experienced seasonality in our user engagement, generally seeing lower engagement during summer months. The rapid growth in our business and user engagement has generally masked these trends to date, and we expect the impact of seasonality to be more pronounced in the future.

Key Customers

No individual customer represented more than 10% of our revenues in 2017, 2016, or 2015.

Intellectual Property

Our success depends in part on our ability to protect our intellectual property and proprietary technologies. To protect our proprietary rights, we rely on a combination of intellectual property rights in the United States and other jurisdictions, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secret laws, license agreements, internal procedures, and contractual provisions. We also enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and contractors and sign confidentiality agreements with third parties. Our internal controls restrict access to proprietary technology.

As of December 31, 2017, we had 375 issued patents and approximately 514 filed patent applications in the United States and foreign countries relating to our camera platform and other technologies. Our issued patents will expire between 2018 and 2036. We may not be able to obtain protection for our intellectual property, and our existing and future patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property rights may not provide us with competitive advantages or distinguish our products and services from those of our competitors. Our patent applications may not result in the issuance of patents, and any resulting issued patents may have claims narrower than those in our patent applications. Additionally, our current and future patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property rights may be contested, circumvented, or found unenforceable or invalid, and we may not be able to prevent third parties from infringing them. Our internal controls and contractual provisions may not always be effective at preventing unauthorized parties from obtaining our intellectual property and proprietary technologies.

7


 

We license content, trademarks, technology, and other intellectual property from our partners, and rely on our license agreements with those partners to use the intellectual property. We also enter into licensing agreements with third parties to receive rights to patents and other know-how. Third parties may assert claims related to intellectual property rights against our partners or us.

Other companies and “non-practicing entities” that own patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and other intellectual property rights related to the mobile, camera, communication, media, internet, and other technology-related industries frequently enter into litigation based on allegations of infringement, misappropriation, and other violations of intellectual property or other rights. Third parties, including our competitors and non-practicing entities, may make claims from time to time that we have infringed their patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, or other intellectual property rights. We are party to many agreements under which we are obligated to indemnify our customers, suppliers, and channel partners against such claims. As our business grows and competition increases, we will likely face more claims related to intellectual property and litigation matters. In addition, to the extent that we gain greater visibility and market exposure as a public company, we face a higher risk of being the subject of intellectual property infringement claims from third parties.

Government Regulation

We are subject to many U.S. federal and state and foreign laws and regulations, including those related to privacy, rights of publicity, data protection, content regulation, intellectual property, health and safety, competition, protection of minors, consumer protection, and taxation. These laws and regulations are constantly evolving and may be interpreted, applied, created, or amended in a manner that could harm our business.

In December 2014, the Federal Trade Commission resolved an investigation into some of our early practices by handing down a final order. That order requires, among other things, that we establish a robust privacy program to govern how we treat user data. During the 20-year lifespan of the order, we must complete bi-annual independent privacy audits. In June 2014, we entered into a 10-year assurance of discontinuance with the Attorney General of Maryland implementing similar practices, including measures to prevent minors from creating accounts and providing annual compliance reports. Violating existing or future regulatory orders or consent decrees could subject us to substantial monetary fines and other penalties that could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.

Furthermore, foreign data protection, privacy, consumer protection, content regulation, and other laws and regulations are often more restrictive than those in the United States. It is possible that certain governments may seek to block or limit our products or otherwise impose other restrictions that may affect the accessibility or usability of any or all our products for an extended period of time or indefinitely. For example, we have very limited access to the China market, as we have not yet established an operating presence in China to support Snapchat. Access to Google, which currently powers our infrastructure, is restricted in China. Additionally, not all our products are available in all locations, including Spectacles, and may not be due to such laws and regulations. We have a public policy team that monitors legal and regulatory developments in the United States, as well as many foreign countries, and communicates with policymakers and regulators in the United States and internationally.

Corporate Information

We were formed as Future Freshman, LLC, a California limited liability company, in 2010. We changed our name to Toyopa Group, LLC in 2011, incorporated as Snapchat, Inc., a Delaware corporation, in 2012, and changed our name to Snap Inc. in 2016. We completed our initial public offering in March 2017 and our Class A common stock is listed on the NYSE under the symbol “SNAP.”

Our principal executive offices are located at 63 Market Street, Venice, California 90291, and our telephone number is (310) 399-3339. Snap Inc., “Snapchat,” and our other registered and common-law trade names, trademarks, and service marks appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are property of Snap Inc. or our subsidiaries.

Information about Segment and Geographic Revenue

Information about segment and geographic revenue is set forth in Notes 1 and 10 of our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

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Available Information

Our website address is www.snap.com. Our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to these reports filed pursuant to Sections 13(a) and 15(d) of the Exchange Act are filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. Such reports and other information filed by us with the SEC are available free of charge on our website at investor.snap.com when such reports are available on the SEC’s website. We use our website as a means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with our disclosure obligations under Regulation FD.

Any person may read and copy any materials filed by us with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Room 1580, Washington, DC 20549. You may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The SEC also maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, like us, that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that website is www.sec.gov.

Information contained in, or accessible through, of the websites referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are not incorporated into this filing. Further, our references to website addresses are only as inactive textual references.

Item 1A. Risk Factors

You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the consolidated financial statements and the related notes. If any of the following risks actually occurs, our business, reputation, financial condition, results of operations, revenue, and future prospects could be seriously harmed. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties that we are unaware of, or that we currently believe are not material, may also become important factors that adversely affect our business. Unless otherwise indicated, references to our business being seriously harmed in these risk factors will include harm to our business, reputation, financial condition, results of operations, revenue, and future prospects. In that event, the market price of our Class A common stock could decline, and you could lose part or all of your investment.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

Our ecosystem of users, advertisers, and partners depends on the engagement of our user base. We anticipate that the growth rate of our user base will decline over time. If we fail to retain current users or add new users, or if our users engage less with Snapchat, our business would be seriously harmed.

We had 187 million and 158 million Daily Active Users on average in the quarters ended December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2016, respectively, and we view Daily Active Users as a critical measure of our user engagement. Adding, maintaining, and engaging Daily Active Users have been and will continue to be necessary. We anticipate that our Daily Active Users growth rate will decline over time if the size of our active user base increases or we achieve higher market penetration rates. For example, if and when we achieve maximum market penetration rates among younger users in developed markets who use smartphones with iOS operating systems, future growth in Daily Active Users will need to come from older users, developing markets, or users with Android operating systems, which may not be possible or may be more difficult or time consuming for us to achieve. If our Daily Active Users growth rate slows, our financial performance will increasingly depend on our ability to elevate user engagement or increase our monetization of users. If current and potential users do not perceive our products to be fun, engaging, and useful, we may not be able to attract new users, retain existing users, or maintain or increase the frequency and duration of their engagement. In addition, because our products typically require high bandwidth data capabilities, the majority of our users live in countries with high-end mobile device penetration and high bandwidth capacity cellular networks with large coverage areas. We therefore do not expect to experience rapid user growth or engagement in countries with low smartphone penetration even if such countries have well-established and high bandwidth capacity cellular networks. We may also not experience rapid user growth or engagement in countries where, even though smartphone penetration is high, due to the lack of sufficient cellular based data networks, consumers rely heavily on Wi-Fi and may not access our products regularly.

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Snapchat is free and easy to join, the barrier to entry for new entrants is low, and the switching costs to another platform are also low. Moreover, the majority of our users are 18-34 years old. This demographic may be less brand loyal and more likely to follow trends than other demographics. These factors may lead users to switch to another product, which would negatively affect our user retention, growth, and engagement. Snapchat also may not be able to penetrate other demographics in a meaningful manner. Falling user retention, growth, or engagement could make Snapchat less attractive to advertisers and partners, which may seriously harm our business. In addition, our Daily Active Users may not continue to grow. We measure our Daily Active Users by calculating the daily average of users across the entire quarter. This calculation may mask any individual months within the quarter that are significantly higher or lower than the average. There are many factors that could negatively affect user retention, growth, and engagement, including if:

 

users increasingly engage with competing products instead of ours;

 

our competitors have and may continue to mimic our products and therefore harm our user engagement and growth;

 

we fail to introduce new and exciting products and services or those we introduce are poorly received;

 

our products fail to operate effectively on the iOS and Android mobile operating systems;

 

we are unable to continue to develop products that work with a variety of mobile operating systems, networks, and smartphones;

 

we do not provide a compelling user experience because of the decisions we make regarding the type and frequency of advertisements that we display;

 

we are unable to combat spam or other hostile or inappropriate usage on our products;

 

there are changes in user sentiment about the quality or usefulness of our existing products in the short term, long term, or both;

 

there are concerns about the privacy implications, safety, or security of our products;

 

our partners who provide content to Snapchat do not create content that is engaging, useful, or relevant to users;

 

our partners who provide content to Snapchat decide not to renew agreements or devote the resources to create engaging content or do not provide content exclusively to us;

 

advertisers display ads that are untrue, offensive, or otherwise fail to follow our guidelines;

 

there are changes in our products that are mandated by legislation, regulatory authorities, or litigation, including settlements or consent decrees that adversely affect the user experience;

 

there are changes to our Terms of Service that are implemented in connection with the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, in Europe, which may decrease engagement or acceptance by our users;

 

technical or other problems frustrate the user experience, particularly if those problems prevent us from delivering our products in a fast and reliable manner;

 

we fail to provide adequate service to users, advertisers, or partners;

 

we, our partners, or other companies in our industry are the subject of adverse media reports or other negative publicity, some of which may be inaccurate or include confidential information that we are unable to correct or retract;

 

we do not maintain our brand image or our reputation is damaged; or

 

our current or future products reduce user activity on Snapchat by making it easier for our users to interact directly with partners.

Any decrease to user retention, growth, or engagement could render our products less attractive to users, advertisers, or partners, and would seriously harm our business.

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Snapchat depends on effectively operating with mobile operating systems, hardware, networks, regulations, and standards that we do not control. Changes in our products or to those operating systems, hardware, networks, regulations, or standards may seriously harm our user retention, growth, and engagement.

Because Snapchat is used primarily on mobile devices, the application must remain interoperable with popular mobile operating systems, Android and iOS, and related hardware, including but not limited to mobile-device cameras. The owners of such operating systems, Google and Apple, respectively, each provide consumers with products that compete with ours. Additionally, mobile devices, and mobile-device cameras, are manufactured by a wide array of companies. Those companies have no obligation to test the interoperability of new mobile devices with Snapchat, and may produce new products that are incompatible with or not optimal for Snapchat. We have no control over these operating systems or hardware, and any changes to these systems or hardware that degrade our products’ functionality, or give preferential treatment to competitive products, could seriously harm Snapchat usage on mobile devices. Our competitors that control the operating systems and related hardware our application runs on could make interoperability of our products with those mobile operating systems more difficult or display their competitive offerings more prominently than ours. We plan to continue to introduce new products regularly and have experienced that it takes time to optimize such products to function with these operating systems and hardware, impacting the popularity of such products, and we expect this trend to continue.

The majority of our user engagement is on smartphones with iOS operating systems. As a result, although our products work with Android mobile devices, we historically prioritized development of our products to operate with iOS operating systems rather than smartphones with Android operating systems. To continue growth in user engagement, we have and will continue to prioritize improving our products’ operability on smartphones with Android operating systems. If we are unable to improve operability of our products on smartphones with Android operating systems, and those smartphones become more popular and fewer people use smartphones with iOS operating systems, our business could be seriously harmed.

Moreover, our products require high-bandwidth data capabilities. If the costs of data usage increase or access to cellular networks is limited, our user retention, growth, and engagement may be seriously harmed. Additionally, to deliver high-quality video and other content over mobile cellular networks, our products must work well with a range of mobile technologies, systems, networks, regulations, and standards that we do not control. In particular, any future changes to the iOS or Android operating systems may impact the accessibility, speed, functionality, and other performance aspects of our products, which issues are likely to occur in the future from time to time. In addition, the adoption of any laws or regulations that adversely affect the growth, popularity, or use of the internet, including laws governing internet neutrality, could decrease the demand for our products and increase our cost of doing business. For example, in December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, voted to repeal the “open internet rules,” which prohibit mobile providers in the United States from impeding access to most content, or otherwise unfairly discriminating against content providers like us and also prohibit mobile providers from entering into arrangements with specific content providers for faster or better access over their data networks. While the FCC’s repeal of these net neutrality regulations has not yet taken effect, the future impact of such repeal and any challenges to the repeal remains uncertain and our business could be seriously harmed. The European Union similarly requires equal access to internet content. Additionally, as part of its Digital Single Market initiative, the European Union may impose network security, disability access, or 911-like obligations on “over-the-top” services such as those provided by us, which could increase our costs. If the FCC’s repeal of the open internet rules are allowed to take effect or the European Union modifies these open internet rules, mobile and internet providers may be able to limit our users’ ability to access Snapchat or make Snapchat a less attractive alternative to our competitors’ applications. Were that to happen, our business would be seriously harmed.

We may not successfully cultivate relationships with key industry participants or develop products that operate effectively with these technologies, systems, networks, regulations, or standards. If it becomes more difficult for our users to access and use Snapchat on their mobile devices, if our users choose not to access or use Snapchat on their mobile devices, or if our users choose to use mobile products that do not offer access to Snapchat, our user retention, growth, and engagement could be seriously harmed.

We rely on Google Cloud for the vast majority of our computing, storage, bandwidth, and other services. Any disruption of or interference with our use of the Google Cloud operation would negatively affect our operations and seriously harm our business.

Google provides a distributed computing infrastructure platform for business operations, or what is commonly referred to as a “cloud” computing service, and we currently run the vast majority of our computing on Google Cloud.

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Any transition of the cloud services currently provided by Google Cloud to another cloud provider would be difficult to implement and will cause us to incur significant time and expense. We have committed to spend $2.0 billion with Google Cloud over five years (beginning January 2017) and have built our software and computer systems to use computing, storage capabilities, bandwidth, and other services provided by Google, some of which do not have an alternative in the market. Given this, any significant disruption of or interference with our use of Google Cloud would negatively impact our operations and our business would be seriously harmed. If our users or partners are not able to access Snapchat through Google Cloud or encounter difficulties in doing so, we may lose users, partners, or advertising revenue. The level of service provided by Google Cloud or similar providers may also impact the usage of and our users’, advertisers’, and partners’ satisfaction with Snapchat and could seriously harm our business and reputation. If Google Cloud or similar providers experience interruptions in service regularly or for a prolonged basis, or other similar issues, our business would be seriously harmed. Hosting costs also have and will continue to increase as our user base and user engagement grows and may seriously harm our business if we are unable to grow our revenues faster than the cost of utilizing the services of Google or similar providers.

In addition, Google may take actions beyond our control that could seriously harm our business, including:

 

discontinuing or limiting our access to its Google Cloud platform;

 

increasing pricing terms;

 

terminating or seeking to terminate our contractual relationship altogether;

 

establishing more favorable relationships or pricing terms with one or more of our competitors; and

 

modifying or interpreting its terms of service or other policies in a manner that impacts our ability to run our business and operations.

Google has broad discretion to change and interpret its terms of service and other policies with respect to us, and those actions may be unfavorable to us. Google may also alter how we are able to process data on the Google Cloud platform. If Google makes changes or interpretations that are unfavorable to us, our business would be seriously harmed.

We generate substantially all of our revenue from advertising. The failure to attract new advertisers, the loss of advertisers, or a reduction in how much they spend could seriously harm our business.

Substantially all of our revenue is generated from third parties advertising on Snapchat, a trend that we expect to continue. For the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, advertising revenue accounted for 97% and 96% of total revenue, respectively. Although we have and continue to try to establish longer-term advertising commitments with advertisers, most advertisers do not have long-term advertising commitments with us, and our efforts to establish long-term commitments may not succeed.

While no individual customer accounts for more than 10% of our revenue, many of our advertisers only recently started working with us and spend a relatively small portion of their overall advertising budget with us. In addition, advertisers may view some of our products as experimental and unproven. Advertisers will not continue to do business with us if we do not deliver advertisements in an effective manner, or if they do not believe that their investment in advertising with us will generate a competitive return relative to other alternatives. Moreover, we rely heavily on our ability to collect and disclose data and metrics to and for our advertisers to attract new advertisers and retain existing advertisers. Any restriction, whether by law, regulation, policy, or other reason, on our ability to collect and disclose data which our advertisers find useful would impede our ability to attract and retain advertisers. Our advertising revenue could be seriously harmed by many other factors, including:

 

a decrease in the number of Daily Active Users on Snapchat;

 

a decrease in the amount of time spent on Snapchat or decreases in usage of our Creative Tools, Chat Service, or Storytelling Platform;

 

our inability to create new products that sustain or increase the value of our advertisements;

 

changes in our user demographics that make us less attractive to advertisers;

 

lack of ad creative availability by our advertising partners;

 

our partners who provide content to us may not renew agreements or devote the resources to create engaging content or do not provide content exclusively to us;

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decreases in the perceived quantity, quality, usefulness, or relevance of the content provided by our users or partners;

 

changes in our analytics and measurement solutions that demonstrate the value of our advertisements and other commercial content;

 

competitive developments or advertiser perception of the value of our products that change the rates we can charge for advertising or the volume of advertising on Snapchat;

 

product changes or advertising inventory management decisions we may make that change the type, size, or frequency of advertisements displayed on Snapchat or the method used by advertisers to purchase advertisements;

 

adverse legal developments relating to advertising, including changes mandated by legislation, regulation, or litigation;

 

adverse media reports or other negative publicity involving us, our founders, our partners, or other companies in our industry;

 

advertiser or user perception that content published by us, our users, or our partners is objectionable;

 

the degree to which users skip advertisements and therefore diminish the value of those advertisements to advertisers;

 

changes in the way advertising is priced or its effectiveness is measured;

 

our inability to measure the effectiveness of our advertising or target the appropriate audience for advertisements;

 

our inability to collect and disclose data that new and existing advertisers may find useful;

 

difficulty and frustration from advertisers who may need to reformat or change their advertisements to comply with our guidelines; and

 

the macroeconomic climate and the status of the advertising industry in general.

These and other factors could reduce demand for our advertising products, which may lower the prices we receive, or cause advertisers to stop advertising with us altogether. Either of these would seriously harm our business.

Our two co-founders have control over all stockholder decisions because they control a substantial majority of our voting stock.

As a result of the Class C common stock that they hold, Evan Spiegel, our co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, and Robert Murphy, our co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, are able to exercise voting rights with respect to an aggregate of 216,615,870 shares of Class C common stock, which represents approximately 94.6% of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock as of December 31, 2017. In addition, Mr. Spiegel was granted an RSU for 37,447,817 shares of Class C common stock on the closing of our initial public offering, or IPO. This RSU award vested immediately on the closing of our IPO in March 2017 and such shares are delivered to our CEO in quarterly installments over three years beginning in November 2017, following which Mr. Spiegel alone may be able to exercise voting control over our outstanding capital stock. The Class A common stock has no voting rights, the Class B common stock is entitled to one vote per share, and the Class C common stock is entitled to ten votes per share. As a result, Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy, and potentially either one of them alone, have the ability to control the outcome of all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval, including the election, removal, and replacement of directors and any merger, consolidation, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets. If Mr. Spiegel’s or Mr. Murphy’s employment with us is terminated, they will continue to have the ability to exercise the same significant voting power and potentially control the outcome of all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval. Either of our co-founders’ shares of Class C common stock will automatically convert into Class B common stock, on a one-to-one basis, nine months following his death or on the date on which the number of outstanding shares of Class C common stock held by such holder represents less than 30% of the Class C common stock held by such holder on the closing of our IPO, or 32,383,178 shares of Class C common stock. Should either of our co-founders’ Class C common stock be converted to Class B common stock, the remaining co-founder will be able to exercise voting control over our outstanding capital stock.

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In addition, in October 2016, we issued a dividend of one share of non-voting Class A common stock to all our equity holders, which will prolong our co-founders’ voting control. As a result of such dividend, our co-founders will be able to liquidate their holdings of non-voting Class A common stock without diminishing their voting control. In the future, our board of directors may, from time to time, decide to issue special or regular stock dividends in the form of Class A common stock, and if we do so, our co-founders’ control could be further prolonged. This concentrated control could delay, defer, or prevent a change of control, merger, consolidation, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets that our other stockholders support. Conversely, this concentrated control could allow our co-founders to consummate such a transaction that our other stockholders do not support. In addition, our co-founders may make long-term strategic investment decisions and take risks that may not be successful and may seriously harm our business.

As our CEO, Mr. Spiegel has control over our day-to-day management and the implementation of major strategic investments of our company, subject to authorization and oversight by our board of directors. As board members and officers, Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy owe a fiduciary duty to our stockholders and must act in good faith in a manner they reasonably believe to be in the best interests of our stockholders. As stockholders, even controlling stockholders, Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy are entitled to vote their shares, and shares over which they have voting control, in their own interests, which may not always be in the interests of our stockholders generally. We have not elected to take advantage of the “controlled company” exemption to the corporate governance rules for New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, listed companies. Moreover, Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy have entered into a proxy agreement under which each has granted a voting proxy with respect to all shares of our Class B common stock and Class C common stock that each may beneficially own from time to time or have voting control over. The proxy would become effective on either founder’s death or disability. Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy have each initially designated the other as their respective proxies. Accordingly, on the death or incapacity of either Mr. Spiegel or Mr. Murphy, the other could individually control nearly all of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock.

If we do not develop successful new products or improve existing ones, our business will suffer. We also invest in new lines of business that could fail to attract or retain users or generate revenue.

Our ability to engage, retain, and increase our user base and to increase our revenue will depend heavily on our ability to successfully create new products, both independently and together with third parties. We may introduce significant changes to our existing products or develop and introduce new and unproven products and services, including technologies with which we have little or no prior development or operating experience. These new products and updates may fail to increase the engagement of our users, advertisers, or partners, and may even result in short-term or long-term decreases in such engagement by disrupting existing user, advertiser, or partner behavior, or by introducing performance and quality issues. For example, in 2017, we transitioned most of our Snap Ads sales to a programmatic model, which decreased average advertising prices. Additionally, we introduced a major redesign of the Snapchat application in December 2017 that rolled out more broadly in February 2018, which has received negative attention in the press and in app store reviews. The short- and long-term impact of any major change, like our recent redesign, is particularly difficult to predict. If new or enhanced products fail to engage our users, advertisers, or partners, we may fail to attract or retain users or to generate sufficient revenue, operating margin, or other value to justify our investments, any of which may seriously harm our business in the short term, long term, or both. Additionally, we frequently launch new products and the products that we launch may have technical issues that diminish the performance of our application. These performance issues or issues that we encounter in the future could impact our user engagement.

Because our products created new ways of communicating, they have often required users to learn new behaviors to use our products, or to use our products repeatedly to receive the most benefit. These new behaviors, such as swiping and tapping in the Snapchat application, are not always intuitive to users. This can create a lag in adoption of new products and new user additions related to new products. To date, this has not hindered our user growth or engagement, but that may be the result of a large portion of our user base being in a younger demographic and more willing to invest the time to learn to use our products most effectively. To the extent that future users, including those in older demographics, are less willing to invest the time to learn to use our products, and if we are unable to make our products easier to learn to use, our user growth or engagement could be affected, and our business could be harmed. We may develop new products that increase user engagement and costs without increasing revenue. For example, we introduced Memories in 2016, our cloud storage service for Snaps, which increases our storage costs.

In addition, we have invested and expect to continue to invest in new lines of business, new products, and other initiatives to generate revenue. The launch of Spectacles in late 2016, which has not and may not generate significant revenue for us, is a good example. We do not have significant experience with hardware products, and we have incurred Spectacles inventory-related charges and may incur increased costs in connection with the development, sale, and marketing of hardware

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products. There is no guarantee that investing in new lines of business, new products, and other initiatives will succeed. If we do not successfully develop new approaches to monetization or meet the expectations of our users or partners, we may not be able to maintain or grow our revenue as anticipated or recover any associated development costs, and our business could be seriously harmed.

Our business is highly competitive. We face significant competition that we anticipate will continue to intensify. If we are not able to maintain or improve our market share, our business could suffer.

We face significant competition in almost every aspect of our business both domestically and internationally. This includes larger, more established companies such as Apple, Facebook (including Instagram and WhatsApp), Google (including YouTube), Twitter, Kakao, LINE, Naver (including Snow), and Tencent, which provide their users with a variety of products, services, content, and online advertising offerings, and smaller companies that offer products and services that may compete with specific Snapchat features. For example, Instagram, a subsidiary of Facebook, introduced a “stories” feature that largely mimics our Stories feature and may be directly competitive. We may also lose users to small companies that offer products and services that compete with specific Snapchat features because of the low cost for our users to switch to a different product or service. Moreover, in emerging international markets, where mobile devices often lack large storage capabilities, we may compete with other applications for the limited space available on a user’s mobile device. We also face competition from traditional and online media businesses for advertising budgets. We compete broadly with the social media offerings of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and with other, largely regional, social media platforms that have strong positions in particular countries. As we introduce new products, as our existing products evolve, or as other companies introduce new products and services, we may become subject to additional competition. For example, in late 2016, we launched Spectacles, our first hardware product. While we view Spectacles as an extension of Snapchat, adding hardware products and services to our product portfolio subjects us to additional competition and new competitors.

Many of our current and potential competitors have significantly greater resources and broader global recognition and occupy stronger competitive positions in certain markets than we do. These factors may allow our competitors to respond to new or emerging technologies and changes in market requirements better than we can. Our competitors may also develop products, features, or services that are similar to ours or that achieve greater market acceptance. These products, features, and services may undertake more far-reaching and successful product development efforts or marketing campaigns, or may adopt more aggressive pricing policies. In addition, advertisers may use information that our users share through Snapchat to develop or work with competitors to develop products or features that compete with us. Certain competitors, including Apple, Facebook, and Google, could use strong or dominant positions in one or more markets to gain competitive advantages against us in areas where we operate, including by:

 

integrating competing social media platforms or features into products they control such as search engines, web browsers, or mobile device operating systems;

 

making acquisitions for similar or complementary products or services; or

 

impeding Snapchat’s accessibility and usability by modifying existing hardware and software on which the Snapchat application operates.

As a result, our competitors may acquire and engage users at the expense of our user growth or engagement, which may seriously harm our business.

We believe that our ability to compete effectively depends on many factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:

 

the usefulness, novelty, performance, and reliability of our products compared to our competitors;

 

the number and demographics of our Daily Active Users;

 

the timing and market acceptance of our products, including developments and enhancements of our competitors’ products;

 

our ability to monetize our products;

 

the effectiveness of our advertising and sales teams;

 

the effectiveness of our advertising products;

 

our ability to establish and maintain advertisers’ and partners’ interest in using Snapchat;

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the frequency, relative prominence, and type of advertisements displayed on our application or by our competitors;

 

the effectiveness of our customer service and support efforts;

 

the effectiveness of our marketing activities;

 

changes as a result of legislation, regulatory authorities, or litigation, including settlements and consent decrees, some of which may have a disproportionate effect on us;

 

acquisitions or consolidation within our industry;

 

our ability to attract, retain, and motivate talented employees, particularly engineers and sales personnel;

 

our ability to successfully acquire and integrate companies and assets;

 

our ability to cost-effectively manage and scale our rapidly growing operations; and

 

our reputation and brand strength relative to our competitors.

If we cannot effectively compete, our user engagement may decrease, which could make us less attractive to users, advertisers, and partners and seriously harm our business.

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

We began commercial operations in 2011 and for all of our history we have experienced net losses and negative cash flows from operations. As of December 31, 2017, we had an accumulated deficit of $4.7 billion and for the year ended December 31, 2017, we experienced a net loss of $3.4 billion. We expect our operating expenses to increase in the future as we expand our operations. If our revenue does not grow at a greater rate than our expenses, we will not be able to achieve and maintain profitability. We may incur significant losses in the future for many reasons, including without limitation the other risks and uncertainties described in this report. Additionally, we may encounter unforeseen expenses, operating delays, or other unknown factors that may result in losses in future periods. If our expenses exceed our revenue, our business may be seriously harmed and we may never achieve or maintain profitability.

The loss of one or more of our key personnel, or our failure to attract and retain other highly qualified personnel in the future, could seriously harm our business.

We depend on the continued services and performance of our key personnel, including Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy. Although we have entered into employment agreements with Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy, the agreements are at-will, which means that they may resign or could be terminated for any reason at any time. Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy are high profile individuals who have received threats in the past and are likely to continue to receive threats in the future. While Mr. Spiegel, as CEO, has been responsible for our company’s strategic vision and Mr. Murphy, as CTO, developed the Snapchat application’s technical foundation, should either of them stop working for us for any reason, it is unlikely that the other co-founder would be able to fulfill the responsibilities of the departing co-founder. Nor is it likely that we would be able to immediately find a suitable replacement. The loss of key personnel, including members of management and key engineering, product development, marketing, and sales personnel, could disrupt our operations and seriously harm our business.

As we continue to grow, we cannot guarantee we will continue to attract and retain the personnel we need to maintain our competitive position. In particular, we intend to hire a significant number of engineering and sales personnel in the Los Angeles area, and we expect to face significant competition in hiring them and difficulties in attracting qualified personnel to move to the Los Angeles area.

As we mature, the incentives to attract, retain, and motivate employees provided by our equity awards or by future arrangements, such as through cash bonuses, may not be as effective as in the past. Additionally, we have many current employees whose equity ownership in our company gives them a substantial amount of personal wealth. Likewise, we have many current employees with fully vested equity awards who received substantial amounts of our capital stock on or after our IPO. Now that the lock-up period has expired, attrition may increase. Additionally, if we issue significant equity to attract and retain employees, we would incur substantial additional stock-based compensation expense and the ownership of our existing stockholders would be further diluted. As a result, it may be difficult for us to continue to retain and motivate these

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employees, and this wealth could affect their decision about whether they continue to work for us. If we do not succeed in attracting, hiring, and integrating excellent personnel, or retaining and motivating existing personnel, we may be unable to grow effectively and our business could be seriously harmed.

We have a short operating history and a new business model, which makes it difficult to evaluate our prospects and future financial results and increases the risk that we will not be successful.

We began commercial operations in 2011 and began meaningfully monetizing Snapchat in 2015. We have a short operating history and a new business model, which makes it difficult to effectively assess our future prospects. Accordingly, we believe that investors’ future perceptions and expectations, which can be idiosyncratic and vary widely, and which we do not control, will affect our stock price. Our business model is based on reinventing the camera to improve the way that people live and communicate. You should consider our business and prospects in light of the challenges we face, including the ones discussed in this section.

If our security is compromised or if our platform is subjected to attacks that frustrate or thwart our users’ ability to access our products and services, our users, advertisers, and partners may cut back on or stop using our products and services altogether, which could seriously harm our business.

Our efforts to protect the information that our users have shared with us may be unsuccessful due to the actions of third parties, software bugs or other technical malfunctions, employee error or malfeasance, or other factors. In addition, third parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees or users to disclose information to gain access to our data or our users’ data. If any of these events occur, our or our users’ information could be accessed or disclosed improperly. We have previously suffered the loss of employee information related to an employee error. Our Privacy Policy governs how we may use and share the information that our users have provided us. Some advertisers and partners may store information that we share with them. If these third parties fail to implement adequate data-security practices or fail to comply with our terms and policies, our users’ data may be improperly accessed or disclosed. And even if these third parties take all these steps, their networks may still suffer a breach, which could compromise our users’ data.

Any incidents where our users’ information is accessed without authorization, or is improperly used, or incidents that violate our Terms of Service or policies, could damage our reputation and our brand and diminish our competitive position. In addition, affected users or government authorities could initiate legal or regulatory action against us over those incidents, which could cause us to incur significant expense and liability or result in orders or consent decrees forcing us to modify our business practices. Maintaining the trust of our users is important to sustain our growth, retention, and user engagement. Concerns over our privacy practices, whether actual or unfounded, could damage our reputation and brand and deter users, advertisers, and partners from using our products and services. Any of these occurrences could seriously harm our business.

We are also subject to many federal, state, and foreign laws and regulations, including those related to privacy, rights of publicity, content, data protection, content regulation, intellectual property, health and safety, competition, protection of minors, consumer protection, employment, and taxation. These laws and regulations are constantly evolving and may be interpreted, applied, created, or amended in a manner that could seriously harm our business.

In addition, in December 2014, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, or the FTC, resolved an investigation into some of our early practices by issuing a final order. That order requires, among other things, that we establish a robust privacy program to govern how we treat user data. During the 20-year term of the order, we must complete bi-annual independent privacy audits. In addition, in June 2014, we entered into a 10-year assurance of discontinuance with the Attorney General of Maryland implementing similar practices, including measures to prevent minors under the age of 13 from creating accounts and providing annual compliance reports. Violating existing or future regulatory orders or consent decrees could subject us to substantial monetary fines and other penalties that could seriously harm our business.

Our user metrics and other estimates are subject to inherent challenges in measurement, and real or perceived inaccuracies in those metrics may seriously harm and negatively affect our reputation and our business.

We regularly review metrics, including our Daily Active Users and ARPU metrics, to evaluate growth trends, measure our performance, and make strategic decisions. These metrics are calculated using internal company data and have not been validated by an independent third party. While these numbers are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates of our user base for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring how our products are used across large populations globally. For example, we believe that there are individuals who have multiple Snapchat accounts, even though we forbid that in our Terms of Service and implement measures to detect and suppress that behavior. Our user metrics are also affected by technology on certain mobile devices that automatically runs in the background of our Snapchat application when another phone function is used, and this activity can cause our system to miscount the user metrics associated with such account.

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Some of our demographic data may be incomplete or inaccurate. For example, because users self-report their dates of birth, our age-demographic data may differ from our users’ actual ages. And because users who signed up for Snapchat before June 2013 were not asked to supply their date of birth, we exclude those users and estimate their ages based on a sample of the self-reported ages we do have. If our Daily Active Users provide us with incorrect or incomplete information regarding their age or other attributes, then our estimates may prove inaccurate and fail to meet investor expectations.

In the past we have relied on third-party analytics providers to calculate our metrics, but today we rely primarily on our analytics platform that we developed and operate. For example, before June 2015, we used a third party that counted a Daily Active User when the application was opened or a notification was received via the application on any device. We now use an analytics platform that we developed and operate and we count a Daily Active User only when a user opens the application and only once per user per day. We believe this methodology more accurately measures our user engagement. We have multiple pipelines of user data that we use to determine whether a user has opened the application during a particular day, and thus is a Daily Active User. This provides redundancy in the event one pipeline of data were to become unavailable for technical reasons, and also gives us redundant data to help measure how users interact with our application.

Additionally, to align our pre-June 2015 Daily Active Users with this new methodology, we reduced our pre-June 2015 Daily Active Users by 4.8%, the amount by which we estimated the data generated by the third party was overstated. Since this adjustment is an estimate, the actual pre-June 2015 Daily Active Users may be higher or lower than our reported numbers. As a result, our metrics may not be comparable to prior periods.

Errors or inaccuracies in our metrics or data could result in incorrect business decisions and inefficiencies. For instance, if a significant understatement or overstatement of Daily Active Users were to occur, we may expend resources to implement unnecessary business measures or fail to take required actions to attract a sufficient number of users to satisfy our growth strategies. We believe that we do not capture all data regarding our Daily Active Users. This generally occurs because of technical issues, like when our systems do not record data from every user’s Snapchat application. We also seek to identify missed activity when data is lost or not captured, which may result in understated metrics. For example, a user may open the Snapchat application and contact our servers but not be recorded as a Daily Active User. We are continually seeking to address technical issues and improve our accuracy, such as comparing our Daily Active Users with data received from other pipelines, including data recorded by our servers and systems. But given the complexity of the systems involved and the rapidly changing nature of mobile devices and systems, we expect these issues to continue. If advertisers, partners, or investors do not perceive our user, geographic, or other demographic metrics to be accurate representations of our user base, or if we discover material inaccuracies in our user, geographic, or other demographic metrics, our reputation may be seriously harmed. And at the same time, advertisers and partners may be less willing to allocate their budgets or resources to Snapchat, which could seriously harm our business. In addition, we measure our Daily Active Users by calculating the daily average of users across the quarter. This calculation may mask any individual months within the quarter that are significantly higher or lower than the average.

Mobile malware, viruses, hacking and phishing attacks, spamming, and improper or illegal use of Snapchat could seriously harm our business and reputation.

Mobile malware, viruses, hacking, and phishing attacks have become more prevalent and sophisticated in our industry, have occurred on our systems in the past, and may occur on our systems in the future. Because of our prominence, we believe that we are an attractive target for these sorts of attacks. Although it is difficult to determine what, if any, harm may directly result from an interruption or attack, any failure to detect such attack and maintain performance, reliability, security, and availability of our products and technical infrastructure to the satisfaction of our users may seriously harm our reputation and our ability to retain existing users and attract new users.

In addition, spammers attempt to use our products to send targeted and untargeted spam messages to users, which may embarrass or annoy users and make our products less user friendly. We cannot be certain that the technologies that we have developed to repel spamming attacks will be able to eliminate all spam messages from our products. Our actions to combat spam may also require diversion of significant time and focus of our engineering team from improving our products. As a result of spamming activities, our users may use our products less or stop using them altogether, and result in continuing operational cost to us.

Similarly, terror and other criminal groups may use our products to promote their goals and encourage users to engage in terror and other illegal activities. We expect that as more people use our products, these groups will increasingly seek to misuse our products. Although we invest resources to combat these activities, including by suspending or terminating accounts we believe are violating our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, we expect these groups will continue to

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seek ways to act inappropriately and illegally on Snapchat. Combating these groups requires our engineering team to divert significant time and focus from improving our products. In addition, we may not be able to control or stop Snapchat from becoming the preferred application of use by these groups, which may become public knowledge and seriously harm our reputation or lead to lawsuits or attention from regulators. If these activities increase on Snapchat, our reputation, user growth and user engagement, and operational cost structure could be seriously harmed.

Because we store, process, and use data, some of which contains personal information, we are subject to complex and evolving federal, state, and foreign laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection, content, and other matters. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in investigations, claims, changes to our business practices, increased cost of operations, and declines in user growth, retention, or engagement, any of which could seriously harm our business.

We are subject to a variety of laws and regulations in the United States and other countries that involve matters central to our business, including user privacy, security, rights of publicity, data protection, content, intellectual property, distribution, electronic contracts and other communications, competition, protection of minors, consumer protection, taxation, and online-payment services. These laws can be particularly restrictive in countries outside the United States. Both in the United States and abroad, these laws and regulations constantly evolve and remain subject to significant change. In addition, the application and interpretation of these laws and regulations are often uncertain, particularly in the new and rapidly evolving industry in which we operate. Because we store, process, and use data, some of which contains personal information, we are subject to complex and evolving federal, state, and foreign laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection, content, and other matters. Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in investigations, claims, changes to our business practices, increased cost of operations, and declines in user growth, retention, or engagement, any of which could seriously harm our business.

Several proposals have recently been adopted or are currently pending before federal, state, and foreign legislative and regulatory bodies that could significantly affect our business. The General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union, which will go into effect on May 25, 2018, may require us to change our policies and procedures and, if we are not compliant, may seriously harm our business.

Our financial condition and results of operations will fluctuate from quarter to quarter, which makes them difficult to predict.

Our quarterly results of operations have fluctuated in the past and will fluctuate in the future. Additionally, we have a limited operating history with the current scale of our business, which makes it difficult to forecast our future results. As a result, you should not rely on our past quarterly results of operations as indicators of future performance. You should take into account the risks and uncertainties frequently encountered by companies in rapidly evolving markets. Our financial condition and results of operations in any given quarter can be influenced by numerous factors, many of which we are unable to predict or are outside of our control, including:

 

our ability to maintain and grow our user base and user engagement;

 

the development and introduction of new or redesigned products or services by us or our competitors;

 

the ability of our data service providers to scale effectively and timely provide the necessary technical infrastructure to offer our service;

 

our ability to attract and retain advertisers in a particular period;

 

seasonal fluctuations in spending by our advertisers and product usage by our users, each of which may change as our product offerings evolve or as our business grows;

 

the number of advertisements shown to users;

 

the pricing of our advertisements and other products;

 

our ability to demonstrate to advertisers the effectiveness of our advertisements;

 

the diversification and growth of revenue sources beyond current advertising;

 

increases in marketing, sales, and other operating expenses that we may incur to grow and expand our operations and to remain competitive;

 

our ability to maintain gross margins and operating margins;

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our ability to accurately forecast consumer demand for our hardware products and adequately manage inventory;

 

system failures or breaches of security or privacy;

 

inaccessibility of Snapchat due to third-party actions;

 

stock-based compensation expense;

 

adverse litigation judgments, settlements, or other litigation-related costs;

 

changes in the legislative or regulatory environment, including with respect to privacy, or enforcement by government regulators, including fines, orders, or consent decrees;

 

fluctuations in currency exchange rates and changes in the proportion of our revenue and expenses denominated in foreign currencies;

 

fluctuations in the market values of our portfolio investments and interest rates;

 

changes in our effective tax rate;

 

announcements by competitors of significant new products or acquisitions;

 

our ability to make accurate accounting estimates and appropriately recognize revenue for our products for which there are no relevant comparable products;

 

changes in accounting standards, policies, guidance, interpretations, or principles; and

 

changes in business or macroeconomic conditions.

If we are unable to successfully grow our user base and further monetize our products, our business will suffer.

We have made, and are continuing to make, investments to enable users and advertisers to create compelling content and deliver advertising to our users. Existing and prospective Snapchat users and advertisers may not be successful in creating content that leads to and maintains user engagement. We are continuously seeking to balance the objectives of our users and advertisers with our desire to provide an optimal user experience. We do not seek to monetize all of our products and we may not be successful in achieving a balance that continues to attract and retain users and advertisers. If we are not successful in our efforts to grow our user base or if we are unable to build and maintain good relations with our advertisers, our user growth and user engagement and our business may be seriously harmed. In addition, we may expend significant resources to launch new products that we are unable to monetize, which may seriously harm our business.

Additionally, we may not succeed in further monetizing Snapchat. We currently monetize Snapchat by displaying in the application advertisements that we sell and advertisements sold by our partners. As a result, our financial performance and ability to grow revenue could be seriously harmed if:

 

we fail to increase or maintain Daily Active Users;

 

we fail to increase or maintain the amount of time spent on Snapchat or usage of our Creative Tools, Chat Service, or Storytelling Platform;

 

partners do not create engaging content for users or renew their agreements with us;

 

advertisers do not continue to introduce engaging advertisements;

 

advertisers reduce their advertising on Snapchat;

 

we fail to maintain good relationships with advertisers or attract new advertisers; or

 

the content on Snapchat does not maintain or gain popularity.

We cannot assure you that we will effectively manage our growth.

Our employee headcount and the scope and complexity of our business have increased significantly, with the number of full-time employees increasing from 1,859 as of December 31, 2016 to 3,069 as of December 31, 2017. We expect headcount growth to continue for the foreseeable future. The growth and expansion of our business and products create significant challenges for our management, including managing multiple relationships with users, advertisers, partners, and other third parties, and constrain operational and financial resources. If our operations or the number of third-party

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relationships continues to grow, our information-technology systems and our internal controls and procedures may not adequately support our operations. In addition, some members of our management do not have significant experience managing large global business operations, so our management may not be able to manage such growth effectively. To effectively manage our growth, we must continue to improve our operational, financial, and management processes and systems and effectively expand, train, and manage our employee base.

As our organization continues to grow and we are required to implement more complex organizational management structures, we may also find it increasingly difficult to maintain the benefits of our corporate culture, including our ability to quickly develop and launch new and innovative products. This could negatively affect our business performance and seriously harm our business.

Our costs are growing rapidly, which could seriously harm our business or increase our losses.

Providing our products to our users is costly, and we expect our expenses, including those related to people and hosting, to grow in the future. This expense growth will continue as we broaden our user base, as users increase the number of connections and amount of content they consume and share, as we develop and implement new product features that require more computing infrastructure, and as we hire additional employees to support potential future growth. Historically, our costs have increased each year due to these factors, and we expect to continue to incur increasing costs. Our costs are based on development and release of new products and the addition of users and may not be offset by a corresponding growth of our revenue. We will continue to invest in our global infrastructure to provide our products quickly and reliably to all users around the world, including in countries where we do not expect significant short-term monetization, if any. Our expenses may be greater than we anticipate, and our investments to make our business and our technical infrastructure more efficient may not succeed and may outpace monetization efforts. In addition, we expect to increase marketing, sales, and other operating expenses to grow and expand our operations and to remain competitive. Increases in our costs without a corresponding increase in our revenue would increase our losses and could seriously harm our business and financial performance.

Our business depends on our ability to maintain and scale our technology infrastructure. Any significant disruption to our service could damage our reputation, result in a potential loss of users and decrease in user engagement, and seriously harm our business.

Our reputation and ability to attract, retain, and serve users depends on the reliable performance of Snapchat and our underlying technology infrastructure. We have in the past experienced, and may in the future experience, interruptions in the availability or performance of our products and services from time to time. Our systems may not be adequately designed with the necessary reliability and redundancy to avoid performance delays or outages that could seriously harm our business. If Snapchat is unavailable when users attempt to access it, or if it does not load as quickly as they expect, users may not return to Snapchat as often in the future, or at all. As our user base and the volume and types of information shared on Snapchat continue to grow, we will need an increasing amount of technology infrastructure, including network capacity and computing power, to continue to satisfy our users’ needs. It is possible that we may fail to effectively scale and grow our technology infrastructure to accommodate these increased demands. In addition, our business is subject to interruptions, delays, and failures resulting from earthquakes, other natural disasters, terrorism, and other catastrophic events.

A substantial portion of our network infrastructure is provided by third parties. Any disruption or failure in the services we receive from these providers could harm our ability to handle existing or increased traffic and could seriously harm our business. Any financial or other difficulties these providers face may seriously harm our business. And because we exercise little control over these providers, we are vulnerable to problems with the services they provide.

Our business emphasizes rapid innovation and prioritizes long-term user engagement over short-term financial condition or results of operations. That strategy may yield results that sometimes don’t align with the market’s expectations. If that happens, our stock price may be negatively affected.

Our business is growing and becoming more complex, and our success depends on our ability to quickly develop and launch new and innovative products. We believe our culture fosters this goal. Our focus on complexity and quick reactions could result in unintended outcomes or decisions that are poorly received by our users, advertisers, or partners. We have made, and expect to continue to make, significant investments to develop and launch new products and services and we are not yet able to determine whether users will purchase or use new products and services in the future. Our culture also prioritizes our long-term user engagement over short-term financial condition or results of operations. We frequently make decisions that may reduce our short-term revenue or profitability if we believe that the decisions benefit the aggregate user

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experience and will thereby improve our financial performance over the long term. For example, we monitor how advertising on Snapchat affects our users’ experiences to ensure we do not deliver too many advertisements to our users, and we may decide to decrease the number of advertisements to ensure our users’ satisfaction in the product. In addition, we improve Snapchat based on feedback provided by our users and partners. These decisions may not produce the long-term benefits that we expect, in which case our user growth and engagement, our relationships with advertisers and partners, and our business could be seriously harmed.

If we are unable to protect our intellectual property, the value of our brand and other intangible assets may be diminished, and our business may be seriously harmed. If we need to license or acquire new intellectual property, we may incur substantial costs.

We aim to protect our confidential proprietary information, in part, by entering into confidentiality agreements and invention assignment agreements with all our employees, consultants, advisors, and any third parties who access or contribute to our proprietary know-how, information, or technology. We also rely on trademark, copyright, patent, trade secret, and domain-name-protection laws to protect our proprietary rights. In the United States and internationally, we have filed various applications to protect aspects of our intellectual property, and we currently hold a number of issued patents in multiple jurisdictions. In the future, we may acquire additional patents or patent portfolios, which could require significant cash expenditures. However, third parties may knowingly or unknowingly infringe our proprietary rights, third parties may challenge proprietary rights held by us, and pending and future trademark and patent applications may not be approved. In addition, effective intellectual property protection may not be available in every country in which we operate or intend to operate our business. In any of these cases, we may be required to expend significant time and expense to prevent infringement or to enforce our rights. Although we have taken measures to protect our proprietary rights, there can be no assurance that others will not offer products or concepts that are substantially similar to ours and compete with our business. In addition, we regularly contribute software source code under open-source licenses and have made other technology we developed available under other open licenses, and we include open-source software in our products. From time to time, we may face claims from third parties claiming ownership of, or demanding release of, the open-source software or derivative works that we have developed using such software, which could include our proprietary source code, or otherwise seeking to enforce the terms of the applicable open-source license. These claims could result in litigation and could require us to make our software source code freely available, seek licenses from third parties to continue offering our products for certain uses, or cease offering the products associated with such software unless and until we can re-engineer them to avoid infringement, which may be very costly. For example, in January 2017, Vaporstream, Inc. filed a complaint against us in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The complaint, which seeks injunctive relief among other remedies, alleges that certain Snapchat features infringe several Vaporstream patents. While we believe their claims are meritless, an unfavorable outcome in this litigation could seriously harm our business. If we are unable to protect our proprietary rights or prevent unauthorized use or appropriation by third parties, the value of our brand and other intangible assets may be diminished, and competitors may be able to more effectively mimic our service and methods of operations. Any of these events could seriously harm our business.

If our users do not continue to contribute content or their contributions are not perceived as valuable to other users, we may experience a decline in user growth, retention, and engagement on Snapchat, which could result in the loss of advertisers and revenue.

Our success depends on our ability to provide Snapchat users with engaging content, which in part depends on the content contributed by our users. If users, including influential users such as world leaders, government officials, celebrities, athletes, journalists, sports teams, media outlets, and brands, do not continue to contribute engaging content to Snapchat, our user growth, retention, and engagement may decline. That, in turn, may impair our ability to maintain good relationships with our advertisers or attract new advertisers, which may seriously harm our business.

Foreign government initiatives to restrict access to Snapchat in their countries could seriously harm our business.

Foreign data protection, privacy, consumer protection, content regulation, and other laws and regulations are often more restrictive than those in the United States. Foreign governments may censor Snapchat in their countries, restrict access to Snapchat from their countries entirely, impose laws on us that require data localization, or impose other restrictions that may affect their citizens’ ability to access Snapchat for an extended period of time or even indefinitely. If foreign governments think we are violating their laws, or for other reasons, they may seek to restrict access to Snapchat, which would give our competitors an opportunity to penetrate geographic markets that we cannot access. As a result, our user growth, retention, and engagement may be seriously harmed, and we may not be able to maintain or grow our revenue as anticipated and our business could be seriously harmed. For example, access to Google, which currently powers our infrastructure, is restricted in China, and we do not know if we will be able to enter the market in a manner acceptable to the Chinese government.

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Our users may increasingly engage directly with our partners instead of through Snapchat, which may negatively affect our advertising revenue and seriously harm our business.

We allow partners to display their advertisements on Snapchat. Using our products, some partners not only can interact directly with our users, but can also direct our users to content on the partner’s website directly. When users visit a partner’s website, we do not deliver advertisements to these websites. So, if our partners’ websites draw users away from Snapchat, the sort of user activity that generates advertising opportunities may decline, which could negatively affect our advertising revenue. Although we believe that Snapchat reaps significant long-term benefits from increased user engagement on content on Snapchat provided by our partners, these benefits may not offset the possible loss of advertising revenue, in which case our business could be seriously harmed.

If events occur that damage our reputation and brand, our ability to expand our user base, advertisers, and partners may be impaired, and our business may be seriously harmed.

We have developed a brand that we believe has contributed to our success. We also believe that maintaining and enhancing our brand is critical to expanding our user base, advertisers, and partners. Because many of our users join Snapchat on the invitation or recommendation of a friend or family member, one of our primary focuses is on ensuring that our users continue to view Snapchat and our brand favorably so that these referrals continue. Maintaining and enhancing our brand will depend largely on our ability to continue to provide useful, novel, fun, reliable, trustworthy, and innovative products, which we may not do successfully. We may introduce new products, make changes to existing products and services, or require our users to agree to new terms of service related to new and existing products that users do not like, which may negatively affect our brand in the short term, long term, or both. Additionally, our partners’ actions may affect our brand if users do not appreciate what those partners do on Snapchat. In the past, we have experienced, and we expect that in the future we will continue to experience, media, legislative, and regulatory scrutiny of our decisions regarding user privacy or other issues, which may seriously harm our reputation and brand. We may also fail to adequately support the needs of our users, advertisers, or partners, which could erode confidence in our brand. Maintaining and enhancing our brand may require us to make substantial investments and these investments may not be successful. If we fail to successfully promote and maintain our brand or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our business may be seriously harmed.

Unfavorable media coverage could seriously harm our business.

We and our founders receive a high degree of media coverage globally. Unfavorable publicity regarding us, for example, our privacy practices, product changes, product quality, litigation, or regulatory activity, or regarding the actions of our partners or our users, could seriously harm our reputation. Such negative publicity could also adversely affect the size, demographics, engagement, and loyalty of our user base and result in decreased revenue, fewer app installs (or increased app un-installs), or slower user growth rates, any of which could seriously harm our business.

If we are not successful in expanding and operating our business in international markets, we may need to lay off employees in those markets, which may seriously harm our reputation and business.

We have rapidly expanded to new international markets, including areas where we do not yet understand the full scope of commerce and culture. In connection with this rapid international expansion we have also hired new employees in many of these markets. This rapid expansion may:

 

impede our ability to continuously monitor the performance of our international employees;

 

result in hiring of employees who may not yet fully understand our business, products, and culture; or

 

cause us to expand in markets that may lack the culture and infrastructure needed to adopt our products.

These issues may eventually lead to layoffs of employees in these markets and may harm our ability to grow our business in these markets.

We have spent and anticipate spending substantial funds in connection with the tax liabilities on the settlement of RSUs. The manner in which we fund these tax liabilities may have an adverse effect on our financial condition.

Given the large number of restricted stock units, or RSUs, that initially settled in connection with our IPO, we expended approximately $206.6 million in the three months ended March 31, 2017 to satisfy tax withholding and remittance obligations. To settle these RSUs, we net-settled the awards by delivering an aggregate of approximately 14.6 million shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock to RSU holders and withholding an aggregate of approximately 12.1 million shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock. For the year ended December 31, 2017, we expended approximately $394.2 million to satisfy tax withholding and remittance obligations. We withheld and remitted income taxes at applicable statutory rates based on the then-current value of the underlying shares.

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To fund the withholding and remittance obligations in the future, we may sell equity securities on our behalf or on behalf of our employees near the applicable settlement dates in an amount that is substantially equivalent to the number of shares of common stock that we withhold in connection with these settlements, such that the newly issued shares should not be dilutive. However, in the event that we issue equity securities, we cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully match the proceeds to the amount of this tax liability. In addition, any such equity financing could result in a decline in our stock price. If we elect not to fully fund tax withholding and remittance obligations through the issuance of equity or we are unable to complete such an offering due to market conditions or otherwise, we may choose to borrow funds under our five-year senior unsecured revolving credit facility, or our Credit Facility, use a substantial portion of our existing cash, or rely on a combination of these alternatives. In the event that we elect to satisfy tax withholding and remittance obligations in whole or in part by drawing on our Credit Facility, our interest expense and principal repayment requirements could increase significantly, which could seriously harm our business.

Our products are highly technical and may contain undetected software bugs or hardware errors, which could manifest in ways that could seriously harm our reputation and our business.

Our products are highly technical and complex. Snapchat and Spectacles, or any other products we may introduce in the future, may contain undetected software bugs, hardware errors, and other vulnerabilities. These bugs and errors can manifest in any number of ways in our products, including through diminished performance, security vulnerabilities, malfunctions, or even permanently disabled products. We have a practice of rapidly updating our products and some errors in our products may be discovered only after a product has been shipped and used by users, and may in some cases be detected only under certain circumstances or after extended use. Spectacles, as an eyewear product, is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, and may malfunction in a way that physically harms a user. We offer a limited one-year warranty in the United States and a limited two-year warranty in Europe, and any such defects discovered in our products after commercial release could result in a loss of sales and users, which could seriously harm our business. Any errors, bugs, or vulnerabilities discovered in our code after release could damage our reputation, drive away users, lower revenue, and expose us to damages claims, any of which could seriously harm our business.

We could also face claims for product liability, tort, or breach of warranty. In addition, our product contracts with users contain provisions relating to warranty disclaimers and liability limitations, which may not be upheld. Defending a lawsuit, regardless of its merit, is costly and may divert management’s attention and seriously harm our reputation and our business. In addition, if our liability insurance coverage proves inadequate or future coverage is unavailable on acceptable terms or at all, our business could be seriously harmed.

As our business expands, we may offer credit to our partners to stay competitive, and as a result we may be exposed to credit risk of some of our partners, which may seriously harm our business.

As our business continues to grow and expand, we may decide to engage in business with some of our partners on an open credit basis. While we may monitor individual partner payment capability when we grant open credit arrangements and maintain allowances we believe are adequate to cover exposure for doubtful accounts, we cannot assure investors these programs will be effective in managing our credit risks in the future, especially as we expand our business internationally and engage with partners that we may not be familiar with. If we are unable to adequately control these risks, our business could be seriously harmed.

We may be subject to regulatory investigations and proceedings in the future, which could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a way that could seriously harm our business.

It is possible that a regulatory inquiry might force us to change our policies or practices. And were we to violate existing or future regulatory orders or consent decrees, we might incur substantial monetary fines and other penalties that could seriously harm our business. In addition, it is possible that future orders issued by, or enforcement actions initiated by, regulatory authorities could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a way that could seriously harm our business.

For example, in December 2014, the FTC resolved an investigation into some of our early practices by issuing a final order. That order requires, among other things, that we establish a robust privacy program to govern how we treat user data. During the 20-year term of the order, we must complete bi-annual independent privacy audits. In addition, in June 2014, we entered into a 10-year assurance of discontinuance with the Attorney General of Maryland implementing similar practices, including measures to prevent minors under the age of 13 from creating accounts and providing annual compliance reports. Violating existing or future regulatory orders or consent decrees could subject us to substantial monetary fines and other penalties that could seriously harm our business. Similarly, we may be subject to additional general inquiries from time to time, which may seriously harm our business.

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We are currently, and expect to be in the future, party to patent lawsuits and other intellectual property claims that are expensive and time-consuming. If resolved adversely, lawsuits and claims could seriously harm our business.

Companies in the mobile, camera, communication, media, internet, and other technology-related industries own large numbers of patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and other intellectual property rights, and frequently enter into litigation based on allegations of infringement, misappropriation, or other violations of intellectual property or other rights. In addition, various “non-practicing entities” that own patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and other intellectual property rights often attempt to aggressively assert their rights to extract value from technology companies. Furthermore, from time to time we may introduce new products or make other business changes, including in areas where we currently do not compete, which could increase our exposure to patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, and other intellectual property rights claims from competitors and non-practicing entities. From time to time, we receive letters from patent holders alleging that some of our products infringe their patent rights and from trademark holders alleging infringement of their trademark rights. We have been subject to litigation with respect to third-party patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property and we expect to continue to be subject to intellectual property litigation.

We rely on a variety of statutory and common-law frameworks for the content we provide our users, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, the Communications Decency Act, or CDA, and the fair-use doctrine. The DMCA limits, but does not necessarily eliminate, our potential liability for caching, hosting, listing, or linking to third-party content that may include materials that infringe copyrights or other rights. The CDA further limits our potential liability for content uploaded onto Snapchat by third parties. And the fair-use doctrine (and related doctrines in other countries) limits our potential liability for featuring third-party intellectual property content produced by us for purposes such as reporting, commentary, and parody. However, each of these statutes and doctrines is subject to uncertain judicial interpretation and regulatory and legislative amendments. For example, there are currently efforts underway in Congress to amend the CDA in ways that could expose some Internet platforms to an increased risk of litigation. Moreover, some of these statutes and doctrines provide protection only or primarily in the United States. If the rules around these doctrines change, if international jurisdictions refuse to apply similar protections, or if a court were to disagree with our application of those rules to our service, we could incur liability and our business could be seriously harmed.

From time to time, we are involved in class-action lawsuits and other litigation matters that are expensive and time-consuming. If resolved adversely, lawsuits and other litigation matters could seriously harm our business.

We are involved in numerous lawsuits, including putative class-action lawsuits brought by users, many of which claim statutory damages. We anticipate that we will continue to be a target for lawsuits in the future. Because we have millions of users, the plaintiffs in class-action cases filed against us typically claim enormous monetary damages in the aggregate even if the alleged per-user harm is small or non-existent. For example, beginning on May 16, 2017, we, certain of our officers and directors, and the underwriters of our IPO were named as defendants in securities class actions purportedly brought on behalf of purchasers of our Class A common stock. Any litigation to which we are a party may result in an onerous or unfavorable judgment that may not be reversed on appeal, or we may decide to settle lawsuits on similarly unfavorable terms. Any such negative outcome could result in payments of substantial monetary damages or fines, or changes to our products or business practices, and accordingly our business could be seriously harmed. Although the results of lawsuits and claims cannot be predicted with certainty, management does not believe that the final outcome of those matters that we currently face will seriously harm our business. However, defending these claims is costly and can impose a significant burden on management and employees, and we may receive unfavorable preliminary, interim, or final rulings in the course of litigation, which could seriously harm our business.

We do not have manufacturing capabilities and depend on a single contract manufacturer. If we encounter problems with this contract manufacturer or if the manufacturing process stops or is delayed for any reason, we may not deliver our hardware products, such as Spectacles, to our customers on time, which may seriously harm our business.

We have limited manufacturing experience for our only physical product, Spectacles, and we do not have any internal manufacturing capabilities. Instead, we rely on one contract manufacturer to build Spectacles. Our contract manufacturer is vulnerable to capacity constraints and reduced component availability, and our control over delivery schedules, manufacturing yields, and costs, particularly when components are in short supply, or if we introduce a new product or feature, is limited. In addition, we have limited control over our manufacturer’s quality systems and controls, and therefore must rely on our manufacturer to manufacture our products to our quality and performance standards and specifications. Delays, component shortages, including custom components that are manufactured for us at our direction, and other manufacturing and supply problems could impair the distribution of our products and ultimately our brand. Furthermore, any adverse change in our contract manufacturer’s financial or business condition or our relationship with the contract manufacturer could disrupt our ability to supply our products to our retailers and distributors. If we are required to change our

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contract manufacturer or assume internal manufacturing operations, we may lose revenue, incur increased costs, and damage our reputation and brand. Qualifying a new contract manufacturer and commencing production is expensive and time-consuming. In addition, if we experience increased demand for our products, we may need to increase our component purchases, contract-manufacturing capacity, and internal test and quality functions. The inability of our contract manufacturers to provide us with adequate supplies of high-quality products could delay our order fulfillment, and may require us to change the design of our products to meet this increased demand. Any redesign would require us to re-qualify our products with any applicable regulatory bodies, which would be costly and time-consuming. This may lead to unsatisfied customers and users and increase costs to us, which could seriously harm our business.

Components used in our products may fail as a result of a manufacturing, design, or other defect over which we have no control, and render our devices inoperable.

We rely on third-party component suppliers to provide some of the functionalities needed to operate and use our products, such as Spectacles. Any errors or defects in that third-party technology could result in errors in our products that could seriously harm our business. If these components have a manufacturing, design, or other defect, they can cause our products to fail and render them permanently inoperable. For example, the typical means by which our Spectacles product connects to mobile devices is by way of a Bluetooth transceiver located in the Spectacles product. If the Bluetooth transceiver in our Spectacles product were to fail, it would not be able to connect to a user’s mobile device and Spectacles would not be able to deliver any content to the mobile device and the Snapchat application. As a result, we would have to replace these products at our sole cost and expense. Should we have a widespread problem of this kind, the reputational damage and the cost of replacing these products could seriously harm our business.

The FDA and other state and foreign regulatory agencies regulate Spectacles. We may develop future products that are regulated as medical devices by the FDA. Government authorities, primarily the FDA and corresponding regulatory agencies, regulate the medical device industry. Unless there is an exemption, we must obtain regulatory approval from the FDA and corresponding agencies before we can market or sell a new regulated product or make a significant modification to an existing product. Obtaining regulatory clearances to market a medical device can be costly and time-consuming, and we may not be able to obtain these clearances or approvals on a timely basis, or at all, for future products. Any delay in, or failure to receive or maintain, clearance or approval for any medical device products under development could prevent us from launching new products. We could seriously harm our business and the ability to sell our products if we experience any product problems requiring FDA reporting, if we fail to comply with applicable FDA and other state or foreign agency regulations, or if we are subject to enforcement actions such as fines, civil penalties, injunctions, product recalls, or failure to obtain FDA or other regulatory clearances or approvals.

We may face inventory risk with respect to our Spectacles products.

We have been and may continue to be exposed to inventory risks related to Spectacles as a result of rapid changes in product cycles and pricing, defective merchandise, changes in consumer demand and consumer spending patterns, changes in consumer tastes with respect to Spectacles products, and other factors. We try to accurately predict these trends and avoid overstocking or understocking inventory. Demand for products, however, can change significantly between the time inventory or components are ordered and the date of sale. The acquisition of certain types of inventory or components may require significant lead-time and prepayment and they may not be returnable. Failure to manage our inventory, supplier commitments, or customer expectations could seriously harm our business.

Our offices are dispersed in various cities, and we do not have a designated headquarters office, which may negatively affect employee morale and could seriously harm our business.

We have many offices, both domestic and abroad, with our principal offices being located in the Los Angeles area. But we do not have one designated headquarters office; we instead have many office buildings that are dispersed throughout the area. This diffuse structure may prevent us from fostering positive employee morale and encouraging social interaction among our employees and different business units. Moreover, because our office buildings are dispersed throughout the area, we may be unable to adequately oversee employees and business functions. If we cannot compensate for these and other issues caused by this geographically dispersed office structure, we may lose employees, which could seriously harm our business.

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We may face lawsuits or incur liability based on information retrieved from or transmitted over the internet and then posted to Snapchat.

We have faced, currently face, and will continue to face claims relating to information that is published or made available on Snapchat. In particular, the nature of our business exposes us to claims related to defamation, intellectual property rights, rights of publicity and privacy, and personal injury torts. For example, we do not monitor or edit the vast majority of content that appears on Snapchat. This risk is enhanced in certain jurisdictions outside the United States where our protection from liability for third-party actions may be unclear and where we may be less protected under local laws than we are in the United States. In addition, there have been various Congressional efforts to restrict the scope of the protections available to online platforms under Section 230 of the CDA, and our current protections from liability for third-party content in the United States could decrease or change. We could incur significant costs investigating and defending such claims and, if we are found liable, significant damages. We could also face fines or orders restricting or blocking our services in particular geographies as a result of content hosted on our services. For example, recently enacted legislation in Germany may impose significant fines for failure to comply with certain content removal and disclosure obligations. If any of these events occur, our business could be seriously harmed.

We plan to continue expanding our operations abroad where we have limited operating experience and may be subject to increased business and economic risks that could seriously harm our business.

We plan to continue expanding our business operations abroad and translating our products into other languages. Snapchat is currently available in more than 20 languages, and we have offices in more than ten countries. We plan to enter new international markets where we have limited or no experience in marketing, selling, and deploying our products. If we fail to deploy or manage our operations in international markets successfully, our business may suffer. In the future, as our international operations increase, or more of our expenses are denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, our operating results may be more greatly affected by fluctuations in the exchange rates of the currencies in which we do business. In addition, we are subject to a variety of risks inherent in doing business internationally, including:

 

political, social, and economic instability;

 

risks related to the legal and regulatory environment in foreign jurisdictions, including with respect to privacy, and unexpected changes in laws, regulatory requirements, and enforcement;

 

potential damage to our brand and reputation due to compliance with local laws, including potential censorship and requirements to provide user information to local authorities;

 

fluctuations in currency exchange rates;

 

higher levels of credit risk and payment fraud;

 

complying with tax requirements of multiple jurisdictions;

 

enhanced difficulties of integrating any foreign acquisitions;

 

complying with a variety of foreign laws, including certain employment laws requiring national collective bargaining agreements that set minimum salaries, benefits, working conditions, and termination requirements;

 

reduced protection for intellectual-property rights in some countries;

 

difficulties in staffing and managing global operations and the increased travel, infrastructure, and compliance costs associated with multiple international locations;

 

regulations that might add difficulties in repatriating cash earned outside the United States and otherwise preventing us from freely moving cash;

 

import and export restrictions and changes in trade regulation;

 

complying with statutory equity requirements;

 

complying with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act, and similar laws in other jurisdictions; and

 

export controls and economic sanctions administered by the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

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If we are unable to expand internationally and manage the complexity of our global operations successfully, our business could be seriously harmed.

New legislation that would change U.S. or foreign taxation of international business activities or other tax-reform policies, including the imposition of tax based on gross income, could seriously harm our business.

Reforming the taxation of international businesses has been a priority for politicians, and a wide variety of potential changes have been proposed. Some proposals, several of which have been enacted, impose incremental taxes on gross revenue, regardless of profitability. Due to the large and expanding scale of our international business activities, any changes in the taxation of such activities may increase our worldwide effective tax rate and the amount of taxes we pay and seriously harm our business.

For example, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the Tax Act, was enacted on December 22, 2017 and significantly reforms the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code. The Tax Act lowers U.S. federal corporate income tax rates, changes the utilization of future net operating loss carryforwards, allows for the expensing of certain capital expenditures, and puts into effect sweeping changes to U.S. taxation of international business activities. As a result, our net U.S. deferred tax assets and corresponding valuation allowances will be revalued at the new U.S. corporate rate. We continue to examine the impact this tax reform legislation may have on our business. The impact of this tax reform on us and on holders of our common stock is uncertain and could seriously harm our business.

Exposure to United Kingdom political developments, including the outcome of the referendum on membership in the European Union, could be costly and difficult to comply with and could seriously harm our business.

In June 2016, a referendum was passed in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, commonly referred to as “Brexit.” This decision creates an uncertain political and economic environment in the United Kingdom and other European Union countries, even though the formal process for leaving the European Union may take years to complete. This formal process began in March 2017, when the United Kingdom served notice to the European Council under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. We have licensed a portion of our intellectual property to one of our United Kingdom subsidiaries and have based a significant portion of our non-U.S. operations in the United Kingdom. The long-term nature of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union is unclear and there is considerable uncertainty when any relationship will be agreed and implemented. The political and economic instability created by Brexit has caused and may continue to cause significant volatility in global financial markets and uncertainty regarding the regulation of data protection in the United Kingdom. In particular, it is unclear whether the United Kingdom will enact data protection laws or regulations designed to be consistent with the pending EU General Data Protection Regulation and how data transfers to and from the United Kingdom will be regulated. Brexit could also have the effect of disrupting the free movement of goods, services, and people between the United Kingdom, the European Union, and elsewhere. The full effect of Brexit is uncertain and depends on any agreements the United Kingdom may make to retain access to European Union markets. Consequently, no assurance can be given about the impact of the outcome and our business, including operational and tax policies, may be seriously harmed or require reassessment if our European operations or presence become a significant part of our business.

We plan to continue to make acquisitions and investments in privately held companies, which could require significant management attention, disrupt our business, dilute our stockholders, and seriously harm our business.

As part of our business strategy, we have made and intend to make acquisitions to add specialized employees and complementary companies, products, and technologies, as well as investments in privately held companies in furtherance of our strategic objectives. Our ability to acquire and successfully integrate larger or more complex companies, products, and technologies is unproven. In the future, we may not be able to find other suitable acquisition or investment candidates, and we may not be able to complete acquisitions or investments on favorable terms, if at all. Our previous and future acquisitions and investments may not achieve our goals, and any future acquisitions or investments we complete could be viewed negatively by users, advertisers, partners, or investors. In addition, if we fail to successfully close transactions or integrate new teams, or integrate the products and technologies associated with these acquisitions into our company, our business could be seriously harmed. Any integration process may require significant time and resources, and we may not be able to manage the process successfully. We may not successfully evaluate or use the acquired products, technology, and personnel, or accurately forecast the financial impact of an acquisition or investment transaction, including accounting charges. We may also incur unanticipated liabilities that we assume as a result of acquiring companies. We may have to pay cash, incur debt, or issue equity securities to pay for any acquisition or investment, any of which could seriously harm our business. Selling equity to finance any such acquisition or investment would also dilute our stockholders. Incurring debt would increase our fixed obligations and could also include covenants or other restrictions that would impede our ability to manage our operations.

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In addition, on average, it has historically taken us approximately one year after the closing of an acquisition to finalize the purchase price allocation. Therefore, it is possible that our valuation of an acquisition may change and result in unanticipated write-offs or charges, impairment of our goodwill, or a material change to the fair value of the assets and liabilities associated with a particular acquisition, any of which could seriously harm our business.

Our acquisition and investment strategy may not succeed if we are unable to remain attractive to target companies or expeditiously close transactions. Issuing shares of Class A common stock to fund an acquisition or investment would cause economic dilution to existing stockholders but not voting dilution. If we develop a reputation for being a difficult acquirer or having an unfavorable work environment, or target companies view our non-voting Class A common stock unfavorably, we may be unable to consummate key acquisition transactions essential to our corporate strategy and our business may be seriously harmed.

If we default on our credit obligations, our operations may be interrupted and our business could be seriously harmed.

We have a Credit Facility that we may draw on to finance our operations, acquisitions, and other corporate purposes, such as funding our tax-withholding and remittance obligations in connection with settling RSUs. If we default on these credit obligations, our lenders may:

 

require repayment of any outstanding amounts drawn on our Credit Facility;

 

terminate our Credit Facility; or

 

require us to pay significant damages.

If any of these events occur, our operations may be interrupted and our ability to fund our operations or obligations, as well as our business, could be seriously harmed. In addition, our Credit Facility contains operating covenants, including customary limitations on the incurrence of certain indebtedness and liens, restrictions on certain intercompany transactions, and limitations on the amount of dividends and stock repurchases. Our ability to comply with these covenants may be affected by events beyond our control, and breaches of these covenants could result in a default under the Credit Facility and any future financial agreements into which we may enter. If not waived, defaults could cause our outstanding indebtedness under our Credit Facility and any future financing agreements that we may enter into to become immediately due and payable. For more information on our Credit Facility, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources.”

We may have exposure to greater-than-anticipated tax liabilities, which could seriously harm our business.

Our income tax obligations are based on our corporate operating structure and third-party and intercompany arrangements, including the manner in which we develop, value, and use our intellectual property and the valuations of our intercompany transactions. The tax laws applicable to our international business activities, including the laws of the United States and other jurisdictions, are subject to change and uncertain interpretation. The taxing authorities of the jurisdictions in which we operate may challenge our methodologies for valuing developed technology, intercompany arrangements, or transfer pricing, which could increase our worldwide effective tax rate and the amount of taxes we pay and seriously harm our business. Taxing authorities may also determine that the manner in which we operate our business is not consistent with how we report our income, which could increase our effective tax rate and the amount of taxes we pay and seriously harm our business. In addition, our future income taxes could fluctuate because of earnings being lower than anticipated in jurisdictions that have lower statutory tax rates and higher than anticipated in jurisdictions that have higher statutory tax rates, by changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, or by changes in tax laws, regulations, or accounting principles. We are subject to regular review and audit by U.S. federal and state and foreign tax authorities. Any adverse outcome from a review or audit could seriously harm our business. In addition, determining our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment by management, and there are many transactions where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. Although we believe that our estimates are reasonable, the ultimate tax outcome may differ from the amounts recorded in our financial statements for such period or periods and may seriously harm our business.

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Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited, each of which could seriously harm our business.

As of December 31, 2017, we had U.S. federal net operating loss carryforwards of approximately $1.6 billion and state net operating loss carryforwards of approximately $930.2 million. Under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change net operating loss carryforwards and other pre-change tax attributes, such as research tax credits, to offset its post-change income and taxes may be limited. In general, an “ownership change” occurs if there is a cumulative change in our ownership by “5% shareholders” that exceeds 50 percentage points over a rolling three-year period. Similar rules may apply under state tax laws. In the event that it is determined that we have in the past experienced an ownership change, or if we experience one or more ownership changes as a result of future transactions in our stock, then we may be limited in our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and other tax assets to reduce taxes owed on the net taxable income that we earn. Any limitations on the ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and other tax assets could seriously harm our business.

Additionally, the Tax Act, which was enacted on December 22, 2017, significantly reforms the Code, including changes to the rules governing net operating loss carryforwards. For net operating loss carryforwards arising in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the Tax Act limits a taxpayer’s ability to utilize such carryforwards to 80% of taxable income. In addition, net operating loss carryforwards arising in tax years ending after December 31, 2017 can be carried forward indefinitely, but carryback is generally prohibited. Net operating loss carryforwards generated by us before January 1, 2018 will not be subject to the taxable income limitation and will continue to have a twenty-year carryforward period. However, the changes in the carryforward and carryback periods as well as the new limitation on use of net operating losses may significantly impact our ability to use net operating loss carryforwards generated after December 31, 2017, as well as the timing of any such use, and could seriously harm our business.

If our goodwill or intangible assets become impaired, we may be required to record a significant charge to earnings, which could seriously harm our business.

Under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, we review our intangible assets for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying value may not be recoverable. Goodwill is required to be tested for impairment at least annually. As of December 31, 2017, we had recorded a total of $806.4 million of goodwill and intangible assets, net related to our acquisitions. An adverse change in market conditions, particularly if such change has the effect of changing one of our critical assumptions or estimates, could result in a change to the estimation of fair value that could result in an impairment charge to our goodwill or intangible assets. Any such material charges may seriously harm our business.

We cannot be certain that additional financing will be available on reasonable terms when needed, or at all, which could seriously harm our business.

We have incurred net losses and negative cash flow from operations for all prior periods, and we may not achieve or maintain profitability. As a result, we may need additional financing. Our ability to obtain additional financing, if and when required, will depend on investor demand, our operating performance, the condition of the capital markets, and other factors. To the extent we use available funds or draw on our Credit Facility, we may need to raise additional funds and we cannot assure investors that additional financing will be available to us on favorable terms when required, or at all. If we raise additional funds through the issuance of equity, equity-linked, or debt securities, those securities may have rights, preferences, or privileges senior to the rights of our Class A common stock, and our existing stockholders may experience dilution. In the event that we are unable to obtain additional financing on favorable terms, our interest expense and principal repayment requirements could increase significantly, which could seriously harm our business.

Payment transactions using Snapcash or future products may subject us to additional regulatory requirements and other risks that could be costly and difficult to comply with and could seriously harm our business.

Our users can use Snapchat to send cash to other users using our Snapcash feature. Depending on how our Snapcash product evolves or whether we develop additional commerce products in the future, we may be subject to a variety of laws and regulations in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, including those governing money transmission, gift cards, and other prepaid access instruments, electronic funds transfers, anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing, gambling, banking and lending, and import and export restrictions. Although we currently use the service of a third party to provide the Snapcash feature, these laws may apply to us in some jurisdictions. To increase flexibility in how our use of Snapcash may evolve and to mitigate regulatory uncertainty, we may be required to apply for certain money-transmitter licenses in the United States, which may generally require us to demonstrate compliance with many domestic laws in these areas. Our

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efforts to comply with these laws and regulations could be costly and divert management’s time and effort and may still not guarantee compliance. If we are found to violate any of these legal or regulatory requirements, we may be subject to monetary fines or other penalties, such as a cease-and-desist order, or we may be required to make product changes, any of which could seriously harm our business. Moreover, the Snapcash product is not enabled on Snapchat by default, and our users must manually enable the feature within the application, which may prevent the Snapcash product from gaining traction with our users or becoming a material part of our business. We have not recognized revenue related to Snapcash to date.

In addition, we may be subject to a variety of additional risks as a result of Snapcash, including:

 

increased costs and diversion of management time and effort and other resources to deal with bad transactions or customer disputes;

 

potential fraudulent or otherwise illegal activity by users or third parties;

 

restrictions on the investment of consumer funds used to make Snapcash transactions; and

 

additional disclosure and reporting requirements.

If any of these risks occurs, our business may be seriously harmed.

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Class A Common Stock

Holders of Class A common stock have no voting rights. As a result, holders of Class A common stock will not have any ability to influence stockholder decisions.

Class A common stockholders have no voting rights, unless required by Delaware law. As a result, all matters submitted to stockholders will be decided by the vote of holders of Class B common stock and Class C common stock. As of December 31, 2017, Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy control approximately 95.2% of our voting power, and potentially either one of them alone have the ability to control the outcome of all matters submitted to our stockholders for approval. In addition, because our Class A common stock carries no voting rights (except as required by Delaware law), the issuance of the Class A common stock in future offerings, in future stock-based acquisition transactions, or to fund employee equity incentive programs could prolong the duration of Mr. Spiegel’s and Mr. Murphy’s current relative ownership of our voting power and their ability to elect certain directors and to determine the outcome of all matters submitted to a vote of our stockholders. This concentrated control eliminates other stockholders’ ability to influence corporate matters and, as a result, we may take actions that our stockholders do not view as beneficial. As a result, the market price of our Class A common stock could be adversely affected.

We cannot predict the impact our capital structure and the concentrated control by our founders may have on our stock price or our business.

Although other U.S.-based companies have publicly traded classes of non-voting stock, to our knowledge, no other public company has listed only non-voting stock on a U.S. stock exchange. We cannot predict whether this structure, combined with the concentrated control by Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy, will result in a lower trading price or greater fluctuations in the trading price of our Class A common stock, or will result in adverse publicity or other adverse consequences. In addition, some indexes are considering whether to exclude non-voting stock, like our Class A common stock, from their membership. For example, in July 2017, FTSE Russell, a provider of widely followed stock indexes, stated that it plans to require new constituents of its indexes to have at least five percent of their voting rights in the hands of public stockholders. In addition, in July 2017, S&P Dow Jones, another provider of widely followed stock indexes, stated that companies with multiple share classes will not be eligible for certain of their indexes. As a result, our Class A common stock will likely not be eligible for these stock indexes. We cannot assure you that other stock indexes will not take a similar approach to FTSE Russell or S&P Dow Jones in the future. Exclusion from indexes could make our Class A common stock less attractive to investors and, as a result, the market price of our Class A common stock could be adversely affected.

Because our Class A common stock is non-voting, we and our stockholders are exempt from certain provisions of U.S. securities laws. This may limit the information available to holders of our Class A common stock.

Because our Class A common stock is non-voting, significant holders of our common stock are exempt from the obligation to file reports under Sections 13(d), 13(g), and 16 of the Exchange Act. These provisions generally require periodic reporting of beneficial ownership by significant stockholders, including changes in that ownership. For example, in November 2017, Tencent Holdings Limited notified us that it, together with its affiliates, acquired 145,778,246 shares of our

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non-voting Class A common stock via open market purchases. As a result of our capital structure, Tencent and Snap are not obligated to disclose changes in Tencent’s ownership of our Class A common stock, so there can be no assurance that you, or we, will be notified of any such changes. Our directors and officers are required to file reports under Section 16 of the Exchange Act. Our significant stockholders, other than directors and officers, are exempt from the “short-swing” profit recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and related rules with respect to their purchases and sales of our securities. As such, stockholders will be unable to bring derivative claims for disgorgement of profits for trades by significant stockholders under Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act unless the significant stockholders are also directors or officers.

Since our Class A common stock is our only class of stock registered under Section 12 of the Exchange Act and that class is non-voting, we are not required to file proxy statements or information statements under Section 14 of the Exchange Act, unless a vote of the Class A common stock is required by applicable law. Accordingly, legal causes of action and remedies under Section 14 of the Exchange Act for inadequate or misleading information in proxy statements may not be available to holders of our Class A common stock. If we do not deliver any proxy statements, information statements, annual reports, and other information and reports to the holders of our Class B common stock and Class C common stock, then we will similarly not provide any of this information to holders of our Class A common stock. Because we are not required to file proxy statements or information statements under Section 14 of the Exchange Act, any proxy statement, information statement, or notice of our annual meeting may not include all information under Section 14 of the Exchange Act that a public company with voting securities registered under Section 12 of the Exchange Act would be required to provide to its stockholders. Most of that information, however, will be reported in other public filings. For example, any disclosures required by Part III of Form 10-K as well as disclosures required by the NYSE for the year ended December 31, 2017 that are customarily included in a proxy statement are instead included in this Form 10-K, rather than a proxy statement. But some information required in a proxy statement or information statement is not required in any other public filing. For example, we will not be required to comply with the proxy access rules under Section 14 of the Exchange Act. If we take any action in an extraordinary meeting of stockholders where the holders of Class A common stock are not entitled to vote, we will not be required to provide the information required under Section 14 of the Exchange Act. Nor will we be required to file a preliminary proxy statement under Section 14 of the Exchange Act. Since that information is also not required in a Form 10-K, holders of Class A common stock may not receive the information required under Section 14 of the Exchange Act with respect to extraordinary meetings of stockholders. In addition, we are not subject to the “say-on-pay” and “say-on-frequency” provisions of the Dodd–Frank Act. As a result, our stockholders do not have an opportunity to provide a non-binding vote on the compensation of our executive officers. Moreover, holders of our Class A common stock will be unable to bring matters before our annual meeting of stockholders or nominate directors at such meeting, nor can they submit stockholder proposals under Rule 14a-8 of the Exchange Act.

The trading price of our Class A common stock has been and will likely continue to be volatile.

The trading price of our Class A common stock has been and is likely to continue to be volatile. Shares of Class A common stock were sold in our IPO in March 2017 at a price of $17.00 per share. Since then, the trading price of our Class A common stock has ranged from $11.28 to $29.44 through December 31, 2017. The market price of our Class A common stock may fluctuate or decline significantly in response to numerous factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:

 

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our user growth, retention, engagement, revenue, or other operating results;

 

variations between our actual operating results and the expectations of securities analysts, investors, and the financial community;

 

our plans to not provide financial guidance or projections, which may increase the probability that our financial results are perceived as not in line with analysts’ expectations;

 

any forward-looking financial or operating information we may provide to the public or securities analysts, any changes in this information, or our failure to meet expectations based on this information;

 

actions of securities analysts who initiate or maintain coverage of us, changes in financial estimates by any securities analysts who follow our company, or our failure to meet these estimates or the expectations of investors;

 

whether investors or analysts view our capital structure unfavorably, particularly our non-voting Class A common stock and the significant voting control of our co-founders;

 

additional shares of our common stock being sold into the market by us or our existing stockholders, or the anticipation of such sales, including if we issue shares to satisfy RSU-related tax obligations;

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announcements by us or our competitors of significant products or features, technical innovations, acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, or capital commitments;

 

announcements by us or estimates by third parties of actual or anticipated changes in the size of our user base or the level of user engagement;

 

changes in operating performance and stock market valuations of technology companies in our industry, including our partners and competitors;

 

price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market, including as a result of trends in the economy as a whole;

 

lawsuits threatened or filed against us;

 

developments in new legislation and pending lawsuits or regulatory actions, including interim or final rulings by judicial or regulatory bodies; and

 

other events or factors, including those resulting from war or incidents of terrorism, or responses to these events.

In addition, extreme price and volume fluctuations in the stock markets have affected and continue to affect many technology companies’ stock prices. Often, their stock prices have fluctuated in ways unrelated or disproportionate to the companies’ operating performance. In the past, stockholders have filed securities class-action litigation following periods of market volatility. Beginning on May 16, 2017, we, certain of our officers and directors, and the underwriters for our IPO were named as defendants in securities class actions purportedly brought on behalf of purchasers of our Class A common stock. This litigation could subject us to substantial costs, divert resources and the attention of management from our business, and seriously harm our business.

Delaware law and provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make a merger, tender offer, or proxy contest difficult, thereby depressing the trading price of our Class A common stock.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws contain provisions that could depress the trading price of our Class A common stock by acting to discourage, delay, or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our management that the stockholders of our company may deem advantageous. These provisions include the following:

 

our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides for a tri-class capital structure. As a result of this structure, Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy control all stockholder decisions. As a result of Mr. Spiegel’s RSU award, Mr. Spiegel alone may exercise voting control over our outstanding capital stock. If they vote together, they will have control over all stockholder matters. This includes the election of directors and significant corporate transactions, such as a merger or other sale of our company or our assets. This concentrated control could discourage others from initiating any potential merger, takeover, or other change-of-control transaction that other stockholders may view as beneficial. As noted above, the issuance of the Class A common stock dividend, and any future issuances of Class A common stock dividends, could have the effect of prolonging the influence of Mr. Spiegel and Mr. Murphy on the company;

 

our board of directors has the right to elect directors to fill a vacancy created by the expansion of the board of directors or the resignation, death, or removal of a director, which prevents stockholders from being able to fill vacancies on our board of directors;

 

our amended and restated certificate of incorporation prohibits cumulative voting in the election of directors. This limits the ability of minority stockholders to elect director candidates; and

 

our board of directors may issue, without stockholder approval, shares of undesignated preferred stock. The ability to issue undesignated preferred stock makes it possible for our board of directors to issue preferred stock with voting or other rights or preferences that could impede the success of any attempt to acquire us.

Any provision of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws, or Delaware law that has the effect of delaying or deterring a change in control could limit the opportunity for our stockholders to receive a premium for their shares of our common stock, and could also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for our Class A common stock.

33


 

An active trading market for our Class A common stock may not be sustained.

Our Class A common stock is listed on the NYSE under the symbol “SNAP.” However, we cannot assure you that an active trading market for our Class A common stock will be sustained or maintained. In addition, we cannot assure you that the liquidity of any trading market will provide stockholders the ability to sell shares of our Class A common stock when or at prices that they desire.

Future sales of shares by existing stockholders could cause our stock price to decline.

If our existing stockholders, including employees and service providers who obtain equity, sell, or indicate an intention to sell, substantial amounts of our Class A common stock in the public market, the trading price of our Class A common stock could decline. As of December 31, 2017, we had outstanding a total of 883.0 million shares of Class A common stock, 122.6 million shares of Class B common stock, and 216.6 million shares of Class C common stock. In addition, as of December 31, 2017, 180.3 million shares of Class A common stock, 21.0 million shares of Class B common stock, and 34.3 million shares of Class C common stock were subject to outstanding stock options and RSUs. All of our outstanding shares, other than approximately 50 million shares of Class A common stock issued in our IPO which are subject to one-year lock-up agreements with us, and 498.6 million shares (including options exercisable as of December 31, 2017) held by directors, executive officers, and other affiliates that are subject to volume limitations under Rule 144 of the Securities Act are eligible for sale in the public market. Our employees, other service providers, and directors are subject to our quarterly trading window closures.

The shares subject to outstanding stock options and RSUs will become eligible for sale in the public market to the extent permitted by the provisions of various vesting agreements and subject to Rule 144 limitations applicable to affiliates. We filed a registration statement on Form S-8 under the Securities Act covering all the shares of Class A common stock subject to outstanding stock options or otherwise reserved for issuance under our equity incentive plans, as well as shares of Class A common stock issuable on conversion of Class B common stock. Shares covered by the Form S-8 registration statement are eligible for sale in the public markets, subject to Rule 144 limitations applicable to affiliates. If these additional shares are sold, or if it is perceived that they will be sold in the public market, the trading price of our Class A common stock could decline.

If securities or industry analysts either do not publish research about us, or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about us, our business, or our market, or if they change their recommendations regarding our common stock adversely, the trading price or trading volume of our Class A common stock could decline.

The trading market for our Class A common stock is influenced in part by the research and reports that securities or industry analysts may publish about us, our business, our market, or our competitors. If one or more of the analysts initiate research with an unfavorable rating or downgrade our Class A common stock, provide a more favorable recommendation about our competitors, or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our Class A common stock price would likely decline. If any analyst who may cover us were to cease coverage of us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the trading price or trading volume to decline. Since we do not provide financial guidance or projections, this may increase the probability that our financial results are perceived as not in line with analysts’ expectations, and could cause volatility to our Class A common stock price.

We are an emerging growth company, and any decision on our part to comply only with certain reduced reporting and disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies could make our Class A common stock less attractive to investors.

We are an emerging growth company, and, for as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may choose to take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements applicable to other public companies but not to “emerging growth companies,” including:

 

not being required to have our independent registered public accounting firm audit our internal control over financial reporting under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act;

 

reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and annual report on Form 10-K; and

 

exemptions from the requirements of holding nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved.

34


 

We can continue to be an emerging growth company, as defined in the JOBS Act, for up to five years following our IPO. We do not currently expect to continue to be an emerging growth company for five years and, therefore, do not expect to be able to take advantage of these various exemptions. However, so long as our Class A common stock remains both non-voting and our only publicly traded class of stock, we will not be subject to the requirements of holding nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation and any golden parachute payments because we would not be subject to the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, mandating advisory votes.

We cannot predict if investors will find our Class A common stock less attractive if we choose to rely on any of the exemptions afforded emerging growth companies. If some investors find our Class A common stock less attractive because we rely on any of these exemptions, there may be a less active trading market for our Class A common stock and the market price of our Class A common stock may be more volatile.

Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can also delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected not to avail ourselves of this accommodation allowing for delayed adoption of new or revised accounting standards, and therefore, we will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies.

We do not intend to pay cash dividends for the foreseeable future.

We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings to finance the operation and expansion of our business, and we do not expect to declare or pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. As a result, you may only receive a return on your investment in our Class A common stock if the market price of our Class A common stock increases. In addition, our Credit Facility includes restrictions on our ability to pay cash dividends.

We have previously identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, and if we are unable to implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, and the market price of our Class A common stock may be seriously harmed.

We are required to maintain internal control over financial reporting and to report any material weaknesses in those internal controls, subject to any exemptions that we avail ourselves to under the JOBS Act. For example, in 2018 we are required to perform system and process evaluation and testing of our internal control over financial reporting to allow management to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, as required by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We are in the process of designing, implementing, and testing internal control over financial reporting required to comply with this obligation. That process is time-consuming, costly, and complicated.

We and our prior independent registered public accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting for the year ended December 31, 2014, related to the lack of sufficient qualified accounting personnel, which led to incorrect application of generally accepted accounting principles, insufficiently designed segregation of duties, and insufficiently designed controls over business processes, including the financial statement close and reporting processes with respect to the development of accounting policies, procedures, and estimates. After these material weaknesses were identified, management implemented a remediation plan that included hiring key accounting personnel, creating a formal month-end close process, and establishing more robust processes supporting internal controls over financial reporting, including accounting policies, procedures, and estimates. As of December 31, 2015, we have implemented controls sufficient to remediate the material weaknesses. Our remediation efforts are complete and we did not incur any material costs.

If we identify future material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, if we are unable to comply with the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in a timely manner or assert that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm is unable to express an opinion or expresses a qualified or adverse opinion about the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports and the market price of our Class A common stock could be negatively affected. In addition, we could become subject to investigations by the stock exchange on which our securities are listed, the SEC, and other regulatory authorities, which could require additional financial and management resources.

35


 

The requirements of being a public company may strain our resources, result in more litigation, and divert management’s attention.

We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, the listing requirements of the NYSE, and other applicable securities rules and regulations. Complying with these rules and regulations will increase our legal and financial compliance costs, make some activities more difficult, time-consuming or costly, and increase demand on our systems and resources. The Exchange Act requires, among other things, that we file annual, quarterly, and current reports with respect to our business and operating results.

By complying with public disclosure requirements, our business and financial condition are more visible, which we believe may result in threatened or actual litigation, including by competitors and other third parties. For example, beginning on May 16, 2017, we, certain of our officers and directors, and the underwriters of our IPO were named as defendants in securities class actions purportedly brought on behalf of purchasers of our Class A common stock. Shareholder litigation can subject us to substantial costs and divert resources and the attention of management from our business. If those claims are successful, our business could be seriously harmed. Even if the claims do not result in litigation or are resolved in our favor, the time and resources needed to resolve them could divert our management’s resources and seriously harm our business.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware and the federal district courts of the United States of America will be the exclusive forums for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or employees.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for:

 

any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf;

 

any action asserting a breach of fiduciary duty;

 

any action asserting a claim against us arising under the Delaware General Corporation Law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, or our amended and restated bylaws; and

 

any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal-affairs doctrine.

Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation further provides that the federal district courts of the United States of America will be the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act.

These exclusive-forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers, and other employees. If a court were to find either exclusive-forum provision in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, which could seriously harm our business.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2. Properties.

Our corporate headquarters are located in and around Venice, California, where we hold approximately 690,000 square feet across several locations. As of December 31, 2017, our global facilities totaled an aggregate of approximately 1,144,000 square feet of office space of which about 1,135,500 was leased and 8,500 was owned. For approximately 77,000 square feet of our leased office space, we have assets recorded as buildings, as well as a corresponding long-term liability for our build-to-suit lease agreements where we are considered the deemed owner of these buildings, for accounting purposes. We also maintain offices in multiple locations in the United States and internationally in Europe, Asia, and Australia. We expect to add additional offices as we increase our headcount and expand our business to other continents and countries. We believe that our facilities are sufficient for our current needs and that, should it be needed, additional facilities will be available to accommodate the expansion of our business.

36


 

Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

We are currently involved in, and may in the future be involved in, legal proceedings, claims, and investigations in the ordinary course of our business, including claims for infringing intellectual property rights related to our products and the content contributed by our users and partners. Although the results of these proceedings, claims, and investigations cannot be predicted with certainty, we do not believe that the final outcome of these matters is reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, or results of operations. Regardless of final outcomes, however, any such proceedings, claims, and investigations may nonetheless impose a significant burden on management and employees and may come with costly defense costs or unfavorable preliminary and interim rulings.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Market Information for Common Stock

Our Class A common stock has been listed on the NYSE under the symbol “SNAP” since March 2, 2017. Prior to that time, there was no public market for our stock. The following table sets forth for the indicated periods the high and low intra-day sales prices per share for our Class A common stock on the NYSE.

 

 

 

High

 

 

Low

 

First Quarter 2017 (from March 2, 2017)

 

$

29.44

 

 

$

18.90

 

Second Quarter 2017

 

 

23.57

 

 

 

17.00

 

Third Quarter 2017

 

 

17.92

 

 

 

11.28

 

Fourth Quarter 2017

 

16.88

 

 

12.10

 

 

Our Class B common stock and Class C common stock are not listed nor traded on any stock exchange.

Holders of Record

As of December 31, 2017, there were 415 stockholders of record of our Class A common stock, not including shares of our Class A common stock held by brokers. The closing price of our Class A common stock was $14.61 per share as reported on the NYSE. As of December 31, 2017, there were 219 stockholders of record of our Class B common stock and two stockholders of record of our Class C common stock.

Dividend Policy

We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our capital stock. We intend to retain all available funds and future earnings, if any, to fund the development and expansion of our business, and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. The terms of our Credit Facility also restrict our ability to pay dividends, and we may also enter into credit agreements or other borrowing arrangements in the future that will restrict our ability to declare or pay cash dividends on our capital stock.

We have paid a stock dividend of our Class A common stock on our capital stock in the past and from time to time in the future may pay special or regular stock dividends in the form of Class A common stock, which per the terms of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation must be paid equally to all stockholders. Any future determination regarding the declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on then-existing conditions, including our financial condition, operating results, contractual restrictions, capital requirements, business prospects, and other factors our board of directors may deem relevant.

37


 

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

We had no repurchases of equity securities for the three months ended December 31, 2017.

Recent Sale of Unregistered Securities and Use of Proceeds

Recent Sale of Unregistered Securities

During the three months ended December 31, 2017, we issued or agreed to issue a total of 117,432 shares of our Class A common stock as partial consideration to the stockholders of an entity we acquired in December 2017, all in private transactions exempt from the registration requirements of the Securities Act pursuant to Section 4(2) or Regulation D under the Securities Act.

Use of Proceeds

On March 1, 2017, our Registration Statement on Form S-1 (File No. 333-215866) was declared effective by the SEC for our initial public offering of Class A common stock, pursuant to which we sold an aggregate of 160,349,765 shares of our Class A common stock at an initial public offering price of $17.00 per share. There has been no material change in the planned use of proceeds from our initial public offering as described in our Prospectus.

Stock Performance Graph

This performance graph shall not be deemed “filed” with the SEC for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, or incorporated by reference into any filing of Snap Inc. under the Securities Act.

The following graph shows a comparison from March 2, 2017 (the date our Class A common stock commenced trading on the NYSE) through December 31, 2017 of the cumulative total return for our Class A common stock, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index (S&P 500 Index) and the NYSE Composite. The graph assumes that $100 was invested at the market close on March 2, 2017 in our Class A common stock, the S&P 500 Index, and the NYSE Composite and data for the S&P 500 Index and the NYSE Composite assumes reinvestment of any dividends. The stock price performance of the following graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.

 

 

38


 

Item 6. Selected Financial Data.

The consolidated statements of operations data for each of the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015 and the consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2017 and 2016 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included in “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of our results in any future period. You should read the following selected consolidated financial data together with “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included in “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected consolidated financial data in this section are not intended to replace our consolidated financial statements and the related notes.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

 

(in thousands, except per share amounts)

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue

 

$

824,949

 

 

$

404,482

 

 

$

58,663

 

Costs and expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue

 

 

717,462

 

 

 

451,660

 

 

 

182,341

 

Research and development

 

 

1,534,863

 

 

 

183,676

 

 

 

82,235

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

522,605

 

 

 

124,371

 

 

 

27,216

 

General and administrative

 

 

1,535,595

 

 

 

165,160

 

 

 

148,600

 

Total costs and expenses

 

 

4,310,525

 

 

 

924,867

 

 

 

440,392

 

Loss from operations

 

 

(3,485,576

)

 

 

(520,385

)

 

 

(381,729

)

Interest income

 

 

21,096

 

 

 

4,654

 

 

 

1,399

 

Interest expense

 

 

(3,456

)

 

 

(1,424

)

 

 

 

Other income (expense), net

 

 

4,528

 

 

 

(4,568

)

 

 

(152

)

Loss before income taxes

 

 

(3,463,408

)

 

 

(521,723

)

 

 

(380,482

)

Income tax benefit (expense)

 

 

18,342

 

 

 

7,080

 

 

 

7,589

 

Net loss

 

$

(3,445,066

)

 

$

(514,643

)

 

$

(372,893

)

Net loss per share attributable to Class A, Class B, and Class C common stockholders(1):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

$

(2.95

)

 

$

(0.64

)

 

$

(0.51

)

Diluted

 

$

(2.95

)

 

$

(0.64

)

 

$

(0.51

)

Adjusted EBITDA(2)

 

$

(720,056

)

 

$

(459,243

)

 

$

(292,898

)

 

(1)

See Note 2 of the notes to our consolidated financial statements included in “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” for a description of how we compute basic and diluted net loss per share attributable to Class A, Class B, and Class C common stockholders.

(2)

See “Selected Financial DataNon-GAAP Financial Measures” below for more information and for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net loss, the most directly comparable financial measure calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP.

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities

 

$

2,043,039

 

 

$

987,368

 

Working capital

 

 

2,020,538

 

 

 

1,023,241

 

Total assets

 

 

3,421,566

 

 

 

1,722,792

 

Total liabilities

 

 

429,239

 

 

 

203,878

 

Additional paid-in capital

 

 

7,634,825

 

 

 

2,728,823

 

Accumulated deficit

 

 

(4,656,667

)

 

 

(1,207,862

)

Total stockholders' equity

 

 

2,992,327

 

 

 

1,518,914

 

 

39


 

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

To supplement our consolidated financial statements, which are prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP, we use certain non-GAAP financial measures, as described below, to understand and evaluate our core operating performance. These non-GAAP financial measures, which may be different than similarly titled measures used by other companies, are presented to enhance investors’ overall understanding of our financial performance and should not be considered a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP.

We use the non-GAAP financial measure of Adjusted EBITDA, which is defined as net income (loss); excluding interest income; interest expense; other income (expense), net; income tax benefit (expense); depreciation and amortization; and stock-based compensation expense and related payroll tax expense. We believe that Adjusted EBITDA helps identify underlying trends in our business that could otherwise be masked by the effect of the expenses that we exclude in Adjusted EBITDA.

We use the non-GAAP financial measure of Free Cash Flow, which is defined as net cash used in operating activities, reduced by purchases of property and equipment. We believe Free Cash Flow is an important liquidity measure of the cash that is available, after capital expenditures, for operational expenses and investment in our business and is a key financial indicator used by management. Additionally, we believe that Free Cash Flow is an important measure since we use third-party infrastructure partners to host our services and therefore we do not incur significant capital expenditures to support revenue generating activities. Free Cash Flow is useful to investors as a liquidity measure because it measures our ability to generate or use cash. Once our business needs and obligations are met, cash can be used to maintain a strong balance sheet and invest in future growth.

We believe that both Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow provide useful information about our financial performance, enhance the overall understanding of our past performance and future prospects, and allow for greater transparency with respect to key metrics used by our management for financial and operational decision-making. We are presenting the non-GAAP measures of Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow to assist investors in seeing our financial performance through the eyes of management, and because we believe that these measures provide an additional tool for investors to use in comparing our core financial performance over multiple periods with other companies in our industry.

These non-GAAP financial measures should not be considered in isolation from, or as substitutes for, financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP. There are a number of limitations related to the use of these non-GAAP financial measures compared to the closest comparable GAAP measure. Some of these limitations are that:

 

Adjusted EBITDA excludes certain recurring, non-cash charges such as depreciation of fixed assets and amortization of acquired intangible assets and, although these are non-cash charges, the assets being depreciated and amortized may have to be replaced in the future;

 

Adjusted EBITDA excludes stock-based compensation expense and related payroll tax expense, which have been, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, significant recurring expenses in our business and an important part of our compensation strategy;

 

Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect tax payments that reduce cash available to us; and

 

Free Cash Flow does not reflect our future contractual commitments.

40


 

The following table presents a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net loss, the most comparable GAAP financial measure, for each of the periods presented:

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Adjusted EBITDA reconciliation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net loss

 

 

(3,445,066

)

 

 

(514,643

)

 

 

(372,893

)

Add (deduct):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income

 

 

(21,096

)

 

 

(4,654

)

 

 

(1,399

)

Interest expense

 

 

3,456

 

 

 

1,424

 

 

 

 

Other (income) expense, net

 

 

(4,528

)

 

 

4,568

 

 

 

152

 

Income tax (benefit) expense

 

 

(18,342

)

 

 

(7,080

)

 

 

(7,589

)

Depreciation and amortization

 

 

61,288

 

 

 

29,115

 

 

 

15,307

 

Stock-based compensation expense

 

 

2,639,895

 

 

 

31,842

 

 

 

73,524

 

Payroll tax expense related to stock-based compensation

 

 

24,470

 

 

 

185

 

 

 

 

Spectacles inventory-related charges(1)

 

 

39,867

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusted EBITDA

 

$

(720,056

)

 

$

(459,243

)

 

$

(292,898

)

 

(1)

Spectacles inventory-related charges were primarily related to excess inventory reserves and inventory purchase commitment cancellation charges in the third quarter of 2017. These charges are non-recurring and not reflective of underlying trends in our business.

The following table presents a reconciliation of Free Cash Flow to net cash used in operating activities, the most comparable GAAP financial measure, for each of the periods presented:

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Free Cash Flow reconciliation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash used in operating activities

 

$

(734,667

)

 

$

(611,245

)

 

$

(306,622

)

Less:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purchases of property and equipment

 

 

(84,518

)

 

 

(66,441

)

 

 

(19,205

)

Free Cash Flow

 

$

(819,185

)

 

$

(677,686

)

 

$

(325,827

)

 

41


 

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition to historical consolidated financial information, the following discussion contains forward-looking statements that reflect our plans, estimates, and beliefs that involve significant risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to those differences include those discussed below and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, particularly in “Risk Factors,” “Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements,” and “Note Regarding User Metrics and Other Data.”

Executive Overview of Full Year 2017 Results

Our key user metrics and financial results for the fiscal year 2017 are as follows:

User Metrics

 

Daily Active Users, or DAUs, were 187 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to 158 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 28.8 million or 18% year-over-year.

 

Average revenue per user, or ARPU, was $1.53 in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to $1.05 in the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 46% year-over-year.

Financial Results

 

Revenue was $824.9 million, an increase of 104% year-over-year.

 

Total costs and expenses were $4.3 billion, an increase of 84% year-over-year, excluding stock-based compensation expense and related payroll tax expense.

 

Loss from operations was $3.5 billion.

 

Net loss was $3.4 billion with diluted loss per share of $(2.95).

 

Adjusted EBITDA was $(720.1) million.

 

Cash used in operations was $734.7 million and Free Cash Flow was $(819.2) million.

 

Capital expenditures were $84.5 million.

 

Cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities were $2.0 billion as of December 31, 2017.

Overview

Snap Inc. is a camera company.

We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way that people live and communicate. Our products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.

Our flagship product, Snapchat, is a camera application that helps people communicate visually with friends and family through short videos and images called Snaps. On average, 187 million people use Snapchat daily and create over 3.5 billion Snaps every day.

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Trends in User Metrics

User Engagement

We define a Daily Active User as a registered Snapchat user who opens the Snapchat application at least once during a defined 24-hour period. We measure average Daily Active Users for a particular quarter by calculating the average Daily Active Users for that quarter. We also break out Daily Active Users by geography because certain markets have a greater revenue opportunity and lower bandwidth costs. We had 187 million DAUs on average across the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to 158 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of 18%.

Quarterly Average Daily Active Users

(in millions)

 

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(1)

North America includes Mexico and the Caribbean.

(2)

Europe includes Russia and Turkey.

Monetization

We monetize our business primarily through advertising. Our advertising products include Snap Ads and Sponsored Creative Tools like Sponsored Lenses and Sponsored Geofilters. While our advertising business is still in its early stages, it has grown rapidly. In the year ended December 31, 2017, we recorded revenue of $824.9 million compared to revenue of $404.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, a 104% year-over-year increase.

We measure progress in our advertising business using ARPU because it helps us understand the rate at which we’re monetizing our daily user base. We define ARPU as quarterly revenue divided by the average Daily Active Users.

For purposes of calculating ARPU, revenue by user geography is apportioned to each region based on a determination of the geographic location in which advertising impressions are delivered, as this approximates revenue based on user activity. This differs from the presentation of our revenue by geography in the notes to our consolidated financial statements, where revenue is based on the billing address of the advertising customer.

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Quarterly Average Revenue per User

 

 

 

(1)

North America includes Mexico and the Caribbean.

(2)

Europe includes Russia and Turkey.

ARPU was $1.53 in the fourth quarter of 2017, up from $1.05 a year ago and $1.17 in the third quarter of 2017. In North America, ARPU was $2.75, 80% higher than our global average. We believe North America remains a leading indicator for the scale potential of our business.

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Results of Operations

Components of Results of Operations

Revenue

We generate substantially all of our revenue through the sale of our advertising products, which include Snap Ads and Sponsored Creative Tools, and measurement services, referred to as advertising revenue. We sell advertising directly to advertisers, referred to as Snap-sold revenue. Certain partners that provide content on Snapchat, or content partners, also sell directly to advertisers, referred to as partner-sold revenue. We report Snap-sold revenue on a gross basis and partner-sold revenue on a net basis. Currently, our Sponsored Creative Tools, which include Sponsored Lenses and Sponsored Geofilters, and our measurement services are only Snap-sold. For the year ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, approximately 94% and 91% of our advertising revenue was Snap-sold, respectively, and approximately 6% and 9% was partner-sold, respectively. Snap Ads, whether Snap-sold or partner-sold, may be subject to revenue sharing arrangements between us and the content partner.

We also generate revenue from sales of our hardware product, Spectacles. This revenue is reported net of allowances for returns.

Cost of Revenue

Cost of revenue consists primarily of payments to third-party infrastructure partners for hosting our products. Hosting costs primarily include expenses related to bandwidth, computing, and storage costs. Cost of revenue also includes revenue share payments to our content partners, content creation costs, which include personnel-related costs, and advertising measurement services. In addition, cost of revenue includes inventory costs for Spectacles and facilities and other supporting overhead costs, including depreciation and amortization.

Research and Development Expenses

Research and development expenses consist primarily of personnel-related costs, including salaries, benefits, and stock-based compensation expense for our engineers and other employees engaged in the research and development of our products. In addition, research and development expenses include facilities and other supporting overhead costs, including depreciation and amortization. Research and development costs are expensed as incurred.

Sales and Marketing Expenses

Sales and marketing expenses consist primarily of personnel-related costs, including salaries, benefits, commissions, and stock-based compensation expense for our employees engaged in sales and sales support, business development, media, marketing, corporate partnerships, communications, and customer service functions. Sales and marketing expenses also include costs incurred for indirect advertising, market research, tradeshows, branding, marketing, promotional expense, and public relations, as well as facilities and other supporting overhead costs, including depreciation and amortization.

General and Administrative Expenses

General and administrative expenses consist primarily of personnel-related costs, including salaries, benefits, and stock-based compensation expense for our executives, finance, legal, information technology, human resources, and other administrative teams, including facilities and supporting overhead costs, and depreciation and amortization. General and administrative expenses also include external professional services.

Interest Income

Interest income consists primarily of interest earned on our cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities.

Interest Expense

Interest expense consists primarily of interest on build-to-suit lease financing obligations and commitment fees and amortization of financing costs related to our Credit Facility.

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Other Income (Expense), Net

Other income (expense), net consists of realized gains and losses on sales of marketable securities, our portion of equity method investment income and losses, and foreign currency transaction gains and losses.

Income Tax Benefit (Expense)

We are subject to income taxes in the United States and numerous foreign jurisdictions. These foreign jurisdictions have different statutory tax rates than the United States. Additionally, certain of our foreign earnings may also be taxable in the United States. Accordingly, our effective tax rates will vary depending on the relative proportion of foreign to domestic income, use of foreign tax credits, changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, and changes in tax laws.

Adjusted EBITDA

We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income (loss), excluding interest income; interest expense; other income (expense), net; income tax benefit (expense); depreciation and amortization; stock-based compensation expense and related payroll tax expense; and certain other non-cash or non-recurring items impacting net income (loss) from time to time. We consider the exclusion of certain non-cash and non-recurring expenses in calculating Adjusted EBITDA to provide a useful measure for period-to-period comparisons of our business and for investors and others to evaluate our operating results in the same manner as does our management. Additionally, we believe that Adjusted EBITDA is an important measure since we use third-party infrastructure partners to host our services and therefore we do not incur significant capital expenditures to support revenue-generating activities. See “Selected Financial DataNon-GAAP Financial Measures” for additional information and a reconciliation of net loss to Adjusted EBITDA.

Discussion of Results of Operations

The following table sets forth our consolidated statements of operations data:

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

 

(dollars in thousands)

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue

 

$

824,949

 

 

$

404,482

 

 

$

58,663

 

Costs and expenses(1) (2):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue

 

 

717,462

 

 

 

451,660

 

 

 

182,341

 

Research and development

 

 

1,534,863

 

 

 

183,676

 

 

 

82,235

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

522,605

 

 

 

124,371

 

 

 

27,216

 

General and administrative

 

 

1,535,595

 

 

 

165,160

 

 

 

148,600

 

Total costs and expenses

 

 

4,310,525

 

 

 

924,867

 

 

 

440,392

 

Loss from operations

 

 

(3,485,576

)

 

 

(520,385

)

 

 

(381,729

)

Interest income

 

 

21,096

 

 

 

4,654

 

 

 

1,399

 

Interest expense

 

 

(3,456

)

 

 

(1,424

)

 

 

 

Other income (expense), net

 

 

4,528

 

 

 

(4,568

)

 

 

(152

)

Loss before income taxes

 

 

(3,463,408

)

 

 

(521,723

)

 

 

(380,482

)

Income tax benefit (expense)

 

 

18,342

 

 

 

7,080

 

 

 

7,589

 

Net loss

 

$

(3,445,066

)

 

$

(514,643

)

 

$

(372,893

)

Adjusted EBITDA(3)

 

$

(720,056

)

 

$

(459,243

)

 

$

(292,898

)

 

(1)

Stock-based compensation and related payroll tax expense included in above line items:

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Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

 

(dollars in thousands)

 

Stock-based compensation and related payroll tax expense:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue

 

$

26,518

 

 

$

532

 

 

$

488

 

Research and development

 

 

1,163,839

 

 

 

21,993

 

 

 

10,309

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

238,827

 

 

 

3,967

 

 

 

3,534

 

General and administrative

 

 

1,235,181

 

 

 

5,535

 

 

 

59,193

 

Total

 

$

2,664,365

 

 

$

32,027

 

 

$

73,524

 

 

(2)

Depreciation and amortization expense included in the above line items:

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

 

(dollars in thousands)

 

Depreciation and amortization expense:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue

 

$

15,222

 

 

$

2,206

 

 

$

126

 

Research and development

 

 

25,076

 

 

 

17,755

 

 

 

11,086

 

Sales and marketing

 

 

10,450

 

 

 

3,175

 

 

 

289

 

General and administrative

 

 

10,540

 

 

 

5,979

 

 

 

3,806

 

Total

 

$

61,288

 

 

$

29,115

 

 

$

15,307

 

 

(3)

See “Selected Financial Data—Non-GAAP Financial Measures” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for more information and for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net loss, the most directly comparable financial measure calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP.

The following table sets forth the components of our consolidated statements of operations data for each of the periods presented as a percentage of revenue:

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations Data: