In November 2013 the wildly popular social media/massaging app Snapchat turned down a major buyout offer from Facebook Inc. (FB) , one to the tune of $3 billion. The snub engendered accusations of hubris on Snapchat’s part, often directed at the company’s brash, often flippant CEO, the 23-year-old Evan Spiegel for turning down a sure thing in the face of uncertainty.
In the time since, Facebook turned their attention to the larger, already-monetized WhatsApp, acquiring that company instead. And with little fanfare, Snapchat has gotten even bigger and better.
Snapchat’s transition from a Stanford class project to a (more than) $3 billion tech darling in less than three years is indicative of a brand experiencing nearly unprecedented stratospheric growth. It’s the kind of growth that seems, on the surface, simply impossible to maintain. But while it might have slowed a bit as of late, Snapchat is increasing its customer base significantly, especially among one of social media’s most coveted demographics: the tween set
A survey by Edison Research indicates that 43 percent of 12-14 year olds use Snapchat, as compared to just 36 percent for Twitter (TWTR) .While 50 percent of that age group uses Facebook’s Instagram, that app is slightly older, having launched in October 2010, with Snapchat dropping in July of 2011. Instagram as well has benefited from their newly-cemented relationship with parent company Facebook, who have pushed the photo-sharing app relentlessly since the April 2012 acquisition via intra-platform integration.
Of course, the lack of a major distribution push is the price Snapchat pays to stay indie. Snapchat as well has not been immune to the growing pains associated with a nascent tech giant, experiencing a major security breach on New Year’s Day that threatened to compromise the burgeoning popularity of the company.
But otherwise, Snapchat continues to rack up impressive growth in the youth market, and with a product that exists entirely on mobile, a fact which scores them major brownie points in the social media game. And for the time being, while Snapchat has encountered its share of issues and still hasn’t cashed out, they’re looking less and less like an acquisition target and more like a company that could one day be doing the acquiring themselves.
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