In the lead-up to the IPO of Snapchat’s parent, Snap Inc., stock market and tech analysts, and Wall Street bulls in general were touting the IPO as real triumph. Since then, however, the party has given way to a numbing hangover. As the fog has lifts, one thing is clear: The Snap IPO was an legendary fleecing, made even more evident by events of the past two weeks. The only big winner in the entire travesty (to no one’s surprise) was Wall Street.
The three core groups involved in the Snap IPO—institutional buyers, investors who were bedazzled by the first days’ bliss; and the company itself—have all been notable losers.
First, the institutional investors that purchased their shares from the underwriters directly at the price of just $17 have steadily watched their gains drop a third after reaching a high of $27. Not all such buyers rode the stock price down, however. Trading volumes were huge on the opening days of trading. Yet, although 365 million shares changed hands (exceeding the total offering of 230 million), many asset managers dumped large portions of shares quickly.
These flippers sold to those who were seduced by the euphoria associated with the Snap IPO. When the shares hit the mid-$20s many ordinary investors, and smaller funds that invest on their behalf, went on a buying spree. However, by far, the biggest loser is Snap itself.
Before the IPO, The seven underwriters allegedly advised Snap to tell big fund managers that the company was willing to sell its shares in the mid-teens. Consequently, investment banks received orders for about ten-times as many shares as Snap was capable of selling. So, instead of raising the price to reflect surging demand, the underwriters, led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, sold Snap’s IPO at $17—just one dollar above the price range at which the stock was originally marketed.