Snapchat appears to be moving closer to becoming a public company by reportedly secretly filing for an initial public offering (IPO) of shares.
The messaging app – which is very popular but not yet profitable – used a confidential filing method with the Securities and Exchange Commission under which it does not have to reveal full details of its finances.
It is a way of testing whether there is enough investor interest.
Snapchat could go public as soon as March and be valued at $20 billion to $25 billion (18.7 to 23.3 billion euros), making it the largest IPO in the US since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba went public two years ago.
Can Snapchat make money?
Snapchat started in 2012 as a free mobile phone app that allows users to send photos that vanish within seconds.
It has more than 100 million active users, about 60 percent of whom are aged 13 to 24, making it an attractive way for advertisers to reach millennials.
Awash in venture funding, the company raised $1.81 billion (1.69 billion euros) in May, which valued it at about $20 billion (18.7 billion euros), media reports said at the time.
But investors worry that Snapchat’s advertising sales, which began last October, is the company’s only significant revenue source.
As well as video and photo messages sent via its app the company also recently started selling video-camera sunglasses that connect wirelessly to a smartphone.