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Data Dive: Snapchat revenue growth may not be a snap

An image of the Snapchat logo created with Post-it notes is seen in the windows of Havas Worldwide at 200 Hudson Street in New York, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

One problem Snapchat won't have in the immediate future is cash. But whether the social media star's underlying revenue will keep up is an open question.

The company filed for an IPO valued between $20 billion and $25 billion. Its last round of financing came in May to the tune of $1.81 billion, which valued the company at around $17.8 billion. That compares with a value of $16 billion in February, when the company raised $175 million.

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The bulls are likely to cite eMarketer's report from September, which predicts that Snapchat's revenue will rise 155 percent to $935.5 million in 2017 from $366.7 million.

The downside to those numbers is that while Snapchat accounts for 32 percent of social network users in the United States, it’s only getting 2.3 percent of social network ad dollars.

Facebook’s third-quarter advertising revenue rose 59 percent to $4.3 billion, but its shares got trashed after the company warned that growth would slow in the current quarter. By comparison, Google’s ad revenue jumped 18 percent to $19.8 billion. Twitter’s advertising revenue rose 6 percent to $545 million.

No one questions Snapchat's ability to engage its users. But turning that engagement into money is another story. "The question is, 'Can you monetize it the way Facebook's monetized historically?' And that's going to be a real challenge for the company to keep up this level of growth," BTIG's Richard Greenfield told CNBC earlier this month.

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