Oct 25, 2019

Snapchat is a cautionary tale against leaving unicorns for dead

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Before Lyft or Uber or WeWork, there was Snapchat. A red-hot, multi-billion dollar startup that melted upon contact with the public markets.

Why it matters: It's a cautionary tale for those who are quick to leave the 2019 cohort for dead. Snap shared many of the unfavorable traits of those that would follow. Giant losses, unclear path to profitability, and a CEO whose hubris and poor communication skills had damaged both morale and product development.

  • It went public in early 2017 at $17 per share, sinking below $5 per share by the end of 2018. To say there was pessimism about Snap's future would be overstating it, since few people still cared enough to consider an opinion. Dead unicorn walking.

The state of play: Since then, however, Snap has clawed its way back. It finally mastered Android, significantly increased its revenue-per-user, and CEO Evan Spiegel learned to listen, delegate, and be transparent.

  • Shares briefly topped their IPO price in July and, while only at $13.40 as of this writing, the company just crushed analyst expectations for Q3.

What's next: Snap still faces massive challenges, squeezed between incumbent Instagram and an insurgent TikTok, and too many employees remain underwater on their stock options.

  • But its falling knife did rebound and should remind all of us that long-term outcomes needn't be memorialized in the moment.

Go deeper: Snapchat adds 7 million daily active users

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.