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The share market float of messaging phenomenon Snapchat is likely to make chief executive Evan Spiegel and his Australian fiancé, model Miranda Kerr, one of the world’s richest young couples.

Snapchat’s parent Snap Inc. filed paperwork for an initial public offering that may value the company as high as $US25 billion. The leading financial paper, Wall Street Journal reported.

Mr Spiegel, a 27-year-old co-founder, is the driving force behind the company.

Having proposed to the 33-year-old Ms Kerr five months ago, the couple could be worth about $3.9 billion if the company lists at the top end of the valuation range. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have been assigned as underwriters, the Journal reported.

Under California family law, assets acquired before a marriage don’t have to be split equally in a divorce.

Stanford student

A notorious partier from a well-off Los Angeles family, Mr Spiegel founded Snapchat when he was a student at Stanford University five years ago studying product design and while he was the social chair of a fraternity.

Snapchat was initially designed for sexting – the app was used to send short video messages that erased themselves after a few seconds. But it became a hugely popular rival to Instagram and a popular medium for advertisers chasing hard-to-get younger people.

The app is used by more than 150 million people daily, including 41 per cent of American 18 to 34-year-olds, Nielsen estimates.

Facebook is the largest platform of social media with more than 1.6 billion users word wide. In 2016, Facebook paid $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp.

Mr Spiegel turned down a $US3 billion offer from Mark Zuckerberg, to sell SnapChat to Facebook three years ago. In May the company was valued at $US18 billion, according to regulatory filings, which suggest it has about 200 investors. Facebook is the largest platform of social media with more than 1.6 billion users word wide. In 2016, Facebook paid $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp.

Twitter, Google plus, Pinterest, Reddit and LinkedIn are the other most commonly used social media platforms. Almost 400 million people use twitter on daily basis.

Mr Spiegel loves expensive cars, expensive hoodies and lavish parties. Before becoming engaged to Ms Kerr he was romantically linked to singer Taylor Swift.

Small-town model

Ms Kerr grew up in the NSW town of Gunnedah and won a modelling competition run by Dolly magazine when she was 13. She was the Australian Victoria’s first Secret model and the face of “David Jones” for several years.

In 2010 she married actor Orlando Bloom. The relationship last for three years, according to tabloid news reports. Now the face of Wonderbra, Ms Kerr is sixth on Forbes’ ranking of highest-paid models. After Mr Spiegel proposed, she posted a picture of her expensive engagement ring on Instagram and Twitter.

Two years ago the tech blog Valleywag published sexually explicit, misogynistic and homophobic emails Mr Spiegel sent as an undergraduate.

“I’m sorry I wrote them at the time and I was jerk to have written them,” he told Business Insider.

At 25 he was crowned the world’s youngest billionaire by Forbes.

Evolution

Since Snapchat’s debut in 2011, the app has evolved far beyond snippets of grainy video into a fully-fledged social media platform. It is a blend of private messaging and public videos, enabling brands and news outlets to broadcast to hundreds of millions of users.

Sports teams, news outlets, fashion brands and political campaigns have all used the app to build committed followings. Snapchat is used to watch sideline interviews with football players, practical jokes played on celebrities and live broadcasts of protests and demonstrations.

“It’s the whole behind-the-scenes thing, people like watching something they wouldn’t otherwise see,” says Harry Patchett, head of social media at MAW Communications.

“Instagram is the finished, perfect product whereas Snapchat can show me how they put the shoot together or just the unpolished part, it’s a lot more personal and immediate.”

Snapchat has extensive augmented reality features, which morph and configure selfie photographs, turning them green or adding enormous tongues or filters.

“It’s the ultimate time waster if you’re just sitting on the couch,” says Mitchell Donaldson, a sales and events manager at Karma Cola, a beverage company. “Like a toy, I can just play around with my face even if I don’t send it to anyone.”

Loyalty

Snap has stayed loyal to millennials, meaning the app isn’t trying to capture several different age groups and their respective technological needs.

“If you’re a brand targeting young people, Snapchat gets right to that audience,” says Mr Patchett. “If you’re not on there, you’re missing a big scoop for your product.”

It would be the largest US technology IPO since Facebook’s debut in 2012 with a value of $US81.2 billion, Reuters said.

The float is seen by many investors as a bellwether for the price of “unicorns,” private, venture-backed companies that are valued at more than $US1 billion.

Like car-sharing company Uber Technologies and home-sharing company Airbnb, Snap is a “decacorn” because it is valued in the tens of billions.

The original article was posted on SMH.

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