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The disappearing-message app Snapchat has been quietly structuring its business for a major new investment. Reports this week say that Snapchat is preparing to sell part of itself to soon-to-be public e-commerce giant Alibaba.

VC Experts, which researches private companies, reports that Snapchat made a regulatory filing Monday authorizing the sale of 17.4 million of its shares. That’s somewhere between three and five percent of Snapchat, according to VC Experts analyst Justin Byers.

The most interesting part about the Snapchat filing is that it lists the price of its shares as $0.001. It’s likely that Snapchat dialed down the price because it expects to be paid for its shares in Alibaba stock, not cash, after the Alibaba IPO, which is expected in September or later.

The big picture here is that Snapchat has seen its valuation rise dramatically in the past year. The rocket ride likely began around the time that Mark Zuckerberg made an unsuccessful $3 billion offer for the company last year. Analysts say that Snapchat is probably worth around $10 billion today.

Nor has Snapchat had any problem raising money. Just six months after its $60 million Series B round, raised another $55 million in December 2013. At the time, Snapchat’s valuation was roughly $2 billion. How quickly opinions can change.

Snapchat is used primarily by people 25 years old and younger. Advertisers are hot for this demographic and have had a very hard time finding ways to reach it consistently.

The company, which has zero revenues today, also has indicated that it wants to get into the mobile payments business. Tying financial transactions to mobile messaging platforms seems to be a subject of intense interest for companies like Facebook, PayPal, and others.

Snapchat says that as of May, users were viewing more than a billion stories a day and sending more than 700 million “snaps” every day — twice the number of snaps that were being sent just last October.


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