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Yesterday I received two separate calls from Silicon Valley types, taking me (and my media peers) to task for expecting Snap's IPO to be "successful." In short, they don't believe the numbers add up.

"Successful" is a tricky term when it comes to IPOs, particularly since different companies list for different purposes (capital raising, employee liquidity, market cachet, etc.). But these folks were essentially saying that if Snap does manage to price at around a $20 billion valuation (fully diluted), it will have a very difficult time maintaining that past the lock-up period (at least for a while).

Basically it's a math question. If Snap is unprofitable and generated around $400 million in 2016 revenue (which is a reported estimate, not a fact), then it would have to trade at a 50 multiple of revenue. There have been some rumors that Snap had a bang-up Q4 that could push the total closer to $600 million, but even that would mean in excess of 33x.

For comparison's sake, Facebook went public in 2012 at around a 23x revenue multiple, and that company already was generating $1 billion in annual profit. Today, Facebook is at only 12.9x revenue.

Obviously the argument here will be growth curve, but how long will public equity investors be willing to value eyeballs over dollars? Particularly without voting rights? Even if you accept projections that Snap could hit $1 billion in revenue next year, the base IPO valuation of $20 billion would still be nearly 2x where Facebook is currently trading, and that's assuming shares don't budge a cent.

None of this is to say that Snap won't surprise all of us when its financial do become public, or that it won't grow into its valuation over time. But it is to say that the company's valuation rocket may need to take a breather.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.