Many things that used to be trueprimarily of the public market now happen within the world of private company investing, including the participation of mutual fund investors.
Now, you can add equity research reports to that list.
Goodwater Capital a two-year-old, consumer-tech-focused venture firm is today taking the wraps off a detailed snapshot of pre-IPO Snap, parent of the disappearing-message app Snapchat. In doing so, the San Mateo, Ca., firm hopes todifferentiateitself from its venture peers while also seizing on an underserved opportunity: producing research that helps Wall Street understand tech companies before their own banking analysts do the job.
Its a rolethat has largely been left to the media, which has been dutifully poringover Snaps roughly 200-page S-1 since it was made public on February 2. Many reporters have done an excellent job, too.
Still, its nice to be able to review a slightly morecomprehensive report, particularly if you missed a lot of the coverage that emerged in the days after Snaps S-1 was first spied in the SECs giant electronic filing bin.Its particularly worth examiningif youre not a Snap aficionado and want to become one quickly, given that the companys roadshow could reportedly beginthis comingFriday.
Goodwatersreport was overseen by Eric Kim, a former investor with Maverick Capital, who launched the consumer-tech focused firm with his former Stanford MBA classmate (and former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner) Chi-Hua Chien in 2014.
Kim, who previouslyworked on numerous high-profile dealsfor Maverick like thethe multi-platform texting app KakaoTalkand the e-commerce platform Coupang,clearly took the task seriously, too. In addition to its own analysis, Goodwater last month surveyed 2,076 participants who were evenly distributed across geography, age, and income, to produce some of its findings.
Says Kim of what motivated him, I saw KakaoTalk evolve from a 15-person company into a very valuable public company and there was suddenly thishuge gap to bridge, with Wall Street looking at very different metrics than we were accustomed to discussing. Our [Goodwater] report [on Snap] aims to provide a comprehensive picture of the company that both Silicon Valley and Wall Street can understand.
Indeed, Kim says he doesnt thinkpeople (i.e., reporters) are looking at the company in the same waythat Wall Street is liable toevaluate it. For example, Kim notes that plenty of editorials have compared Snapchat with Instagram, but he asserts that even more than Instagram owner Facebook, Snap is trying to take on the entertainment world and replace TV.
In other words, a better comparison for Snapchat are more traditional entertainment companies. And rather than compareunprofitable Snapchat todayto pre-IPO Facebook, which was very profitable, it might make more sense to consider the size of the overall entertainment industry and how much of it Snap can take on.
Incase you are wondering, Goodwater says it does not own a stake in Snap.
The firm also plans to produce future reports on pre-IPO companies, including, potentially, Airbnb, Dropbox, and Pinterest.
We asked Kim what kind of a Wall Street rating he might assign Snap based on Goodwaters research. Alas, he said that for the benefit of the company and future companies about which Goodwater may publishreports, the firmintends to stay neutral, presenting facts and analyses that people can use to come up with their own conclusions.
Pressed on his personal stance, he says that thejury is still out. Snap hasdone an amazing job of getting to where it istoday, but itsaverage revenue per user is 1/10th that of Facebook. You could say thats a problem, or you could view it as a huge opportunity.
As Kim notes, Snap also hasnt done a great job with international growth to date, losing market share to aSnapchat clone, Snow, thats right now dominating Japan and South Korea. Its sometimes hard to see around that corner, but to be a multibillion-dollar company, you need to be international, he says.
And again, Snap doesnthave the same operating margins as Facebook and its not clear whether it ever will. Says Kim, Its just a completely different medium, compared with Facebook or Twitter. No one has had a video-orientation first. So [Snaps value to advertisers] is something we have yet to get a handle on.
That sort ofthe point of Goodwaters report,suggests Kim: while a lot of people seem to be making up their minds about Snap, and skepticism abounds, theres still much to be determined, he adds. Its part of what makes Snap so exciting.
You can check out Goodwaters full report on Snap replete with business overview, key trends, summary financials and projections and lots of useful graphics and charts right here.