Venice residents stage protest outside Snapchat HQ as company starts trading

Venice-based Snap Inc., parent company of the photo/video-sharing Snapchat phone app, went public Thursday, opening at $24 a share and rising at one point to $25 before closing the day at $24.48 a share -- far above the initial price of $17.

The company offered 200 million shares of stock, putting the original value of the initial public offering at $3.4 billion. Shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SNAP.

Snap filed federal paperwork in February to move forward with the initial public offering. That paperwork initially estimated the value of the stock offering at $3 billion.

"Our flagship product, Snapchat, is a camera application that was created to help people communicate through short videos and images,'' according to the company's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We call each of those short videos or images a Snap. On average, 158 million people use Snapchat daily, and over 2.5 billion Snaps are created every day.''

The filing also touted the company's latest innovation, Spectacles, which are sunglasses that connect video directly with Snapchat.

According to the document, the company had revenue of $404.5 million in 2016, up from $58.7 million in 2015. But the company still recorded a loss of $514.6 million last year.

The company was co-founded by Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, who created Snapchat in 2011 while attending Stanford University.

While they were enjoying a profitable day on Wall Street, a group of Venice-area residents and activists staged a protest outside Snap's offices, claiming the social-media company was damaging to neighborhoods. Some
demonstrators contended the company has been snapping up office space at the expense of local businesses and driving out residents, and renting residential space but using it for commercial work.

The company issued a statement in response, saying many of its employees live in Venice.

"We've been very grateful to be a part of this creative community for over the last four years and we've worked closely with local schools and nonprofits to be a good neighbor,'' according to the company. "No one could have anticipated how quickly we've grown, and we have already begun focusing our future growth outside of Venice.''

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