Here's how Snapchat thinks strategically about 'reinventing the camera'

Snapchat’s parent company has officially filed its initial public offering prospectus, setting the wheels in motion for what’s likely to be the largest tech debut in years.

In its regulatory filing with the SEC, Snap lays out its official mission statement as a “camera company.”

“We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way that people live and communicate,” the filing reads. “Our products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.”

Here’s Snap’s full mission statement, including how it thinks strategically:

Snap Inc. is a camera company.

We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way that people live and communicate. Our products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.

In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones. This is because images created by smartphone cameras contain more context and richer information than other forms of input like text entered on a keyboard. This means that we are willing to take risks in an attempt to create innovative and different camera products that are better able to reflect and improve our life experiences.

Our strategy is to invest in product innovation and take risks to improve our camera platform. We do this in an effort to drive user engagement, which we can then monetise through advertising. We use the revenue we generate to fund future product innovation to grow our business.

We believe that the best way to compete in a world of widely distributed mobile applications is innovating to create the most engaging products. New mobile software is available to everyone immediately, and usually for free. While not all of our investments will pay off in the long run, we are willing to take risks in an attempt to create the best and most differentiated products on the market.

Due to the nature of our products and business, our ability to succeed in any given country is largely dependent on its mobile infrastructure and its advertising market. These factors influence our product performance, our hosting costs, and our monetisation opportunity in each market.

Our products often require intensive processing and generate high bandwidth consumption by our users. As a result, our users tend to come from developed countries with high-end mobile devices and high-speed cellular internet. These markets also tend to have cheaper bandwidth costs, meaning that it is less expensive to serve our community in these countries.

Substantially all of our revenue comes from advertising, so our ability to generate revenue in a particular country depends on the size of its advertising market. Global advertising spend — especially mobile advertising spend — is extremely concentrated, with over 70% of overall advertising spend and nearly 85% of mobile advertising spend coming from the top ten advertising markets, according to International Data Corporation, or IDC. On average, over 60% of our Daily Active Users come from countries on this list.

We benefit greatly from the fact that many of our users are in markets where we have the highest capital efficiency and monetisation potential, allowing us to generate revenue and cash flow that we can then invest into future product innovation.

Worldwide advertising spend is expected to grow from $652 billion in 2016 to $767 billion in 2020. The fastest growing segment is mobile advertising, which is expected to grow nearly 3x from $66 billion in 2016 to $196 billion in 2020. We believe that one of the major factors driving this growth is the shift of people’s attention from their televisions to their mobile phones. This trend is particularly pronounced among the younger demographic, where our Daily Active Users tend to be concentrated. According to Nielsen, people between the ages of 18 and 24.

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