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Snapchat Is A Lot Bigger Than People Realise And It Could Be Nearing 200 Million Active Users

Evan Spiegel Snapchat CEOThe VergeSnapchat CEO Evan Spiegel

Snapchat is only a few years old, but you wouldn’t know it from the app’s massive number of users.

It’s been reported that Snapchat has more than 100 million users. But that number may actually be closer to 200 million (or beyond), if you read between the lines of what’s been written and stated by the company’s executives. 

The company compares its size and scale internally to Facebook and Twitter. But it only looks at those companies’ mobile monthly active users, not total monthly active users, since Snapchat is a mobile-only platform.

Here’s the evidence:

“Our Stories” a feature Snapchat launched in June, already rivals the scale of some TV audiences.

In November at a conference, Spiegel made a somewhat startling statement. He was quoted as saying: “More people are watching college football on Snapchat than they are on television.”

If that was actually true, Snapchat’s number of MAUs would be staggering — and even more staggering would be the number of people who use Snapchat who are football fans. According to the National Football Association, 216 million people watched college football in 2013 on TV and an additional 126 million watched the bowl games. Thursday’s Sugar Bowl, in which OSU upset Alabama, set a cable TV record and pulled in 28.3 million viewers.

A Snapchat spokesperson says Spiegel’s quote is missing context, however. Spiegel was apparently saying that college football “Our Stories” get more views than top game coverage on Saturdays. That’s still tens of millions of people, so Spiegel was making a big point that hints at big MAUs. 

Snapchat just raised nearly $US500 million at a $US10-20 billion valuation.

According to a filing Snapchat dropped on New Years Eve, the company has raised $US485 million from 23 investors at a valuation that’s been reported at $US10-20 billion. TechCrunch’s sources justify the big fundraise with Snapchat’s size and scale.

From TechCrunch: “The last reported number of active monthly users of the ephemeral message app was 100 million back in August 2014, but things are moving fast. From what we understand the MAU number is now approaching 200 million users. The company in May 2014 reported 700 million photos sent per day on the app, with 500 million Snapchat Stories.”

Snapchat’s monthly active users are gaining steam on Facebook’s. Facebook had about 350 million monthly active mobile users in early 2014.

According to an email written by former Goldman Sachs executive Anthony Noto to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel in April, the company has an “outstanding” number of monthly active users. (Noto is now Twitter’s CFO.). The email surfaced during the Sony Pictures cyber attack.

“FB’s mobile only MAU # reached 341 million which is outstanding for Snapchat when you think about where your MAU number is vs 341mm and you have only been available for 2 years and don’t have a desktop user base of 1+bn plus to target or the same geographic footprint or brand awareness!!!!”

But fewer than 60% of Snapchat’s monthly active users were visiting Snapchat daily as of April.

In that same email, Noto advised Spiegel that he should strive to get the percentage of MAUs who visit daily to 60%, which is what Facebook has. Noto wrote in April:

“Mobile dau to mau is higher on mobile than desktop at 60% vs 50% for FB. 60% is a good benchmark target for you to want to achieve on Snapchat.”

Snapchat users are highly engaged and growth is “abnormal.” Is it closing in on Twitter’s scale of 180 million+ mobile users?

“You’ve seen the data – we have high engagement and high retention product with tremendous growth ahead of us,” Spiegel wrote to his board member and investor Mitch Lasky in November 2013.   “We have reached abnormal levels of growth…If we can build a profitable biz w Twitter-scale, 30-person headcount, and major growth ahead we are not going to have a problem attracting additional capital.

Last year when Spiegel wrote this, Snapchat had 20-30 employees. Twitter back then had about 240 million monthly active users and 184 mobile users. Spiegel’s comment would imply that Snapchat was heavily gaining on those numbers then.

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