It started life in California as an ephemeral photo-sharing app and quickly gained notoriety as a platform for sexting.
Now Snapchat is heading for Wall Street with an initial public offering that would make it one of the most valuable firms on the planet.
On 2 February, the app’s owner Snap Inc filed an IPO for a widely reported $3bn (£2.4bn), valuing the company at more than $20bn (£16bn).
It would be the biggest listing on the US market since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2014 and Facebook’s meteoric $81bn valuation in 2012.
Only three years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered Snapchat’s founder Evan Spiegel $3bn for a buyout.
Spiegel astonished analysts and tech commentators by turning the offer down. The company is now worth around seven times more.
The two firms have since descended into a technological arms race, with Facebook copying many of Snapchat’s features in a bid to attract its young audience.
With Facebook having acquired Instagram and WhatsApp, Snapchat is the biggest social media app in the US to remain independent.
It hasn’t yet made a profit. In 2016, the company’s sales grew rapidly to $404m, but it made a loss of $515m, its registration statement shows.
The app has more than 160 million daily users and makes money through advertising. Revenue was up 600 per cent last year.
Spiegel, 26, will remain a major shareholder but is set for a big payout. His and fellow founder Bobby Murphy’s shares would be worth around $5bn.
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