One Cheer for Snapchat

Monday, February 13, 2017

(Oh, wait. Never mind.)

Upon encountering the following headline, my first reaction was to think, "It's about time:"

Snapchat Doesn't Care About Saving the World -- and Its IPO Docs Prove It
This is because, for far too long, businessmen have regarded the goal of making money as amoral at best. Never mind that businesses produce something of enough value to their customers that they willingly trade for it. Thousands or millions of win-win propositions don't (and can't) cut it under the moral code of altruism -- which ought to make people think twice about using it as a guide to their actions. In any event, the practice of grafting some altruistic goal or collectivist cause to one's business has become so common that it is newsworthy when a company doesn't rave about doing so. And that's all we have here, nasty headline and bile from the Observer's Brady Dale to the contrary.

We are in a sad-enough state of affairs that the article slams the company simply for the fact that it finds its business opportunity in the most prosperous, well-developed markets before finally reaching what its author regards as a smoking gun. And what is the smoking gun?
In February 2017, we established the Snap Foundation. After this offering, we and our co-founders have each pledged to donate up to 13,000,000 shares of our Class A common stock to the Snap Foundation over the course of the next 15 to 20 years. We anticipate that the proposed programs of the Snap Foundation will support arts, education, and youth.
The Observer then lambastes the company for taking too long to make these donations.
So, the co-founders might give 13 million shares and, in 15 years, the company might even still be around by then. Like the good Snapchat and its foundation might ever do for the world, it's anybody's guess.
Apparently, it would be better for Snapchat to raise a bunch of money, ostensibly for a business, but dump it into a charity instead, if push comes to shove. But that's beside the point. Do note that the filing documents do graft a foundation on to the company. Whether one believes the founders hand over shares to it when they propose because (1) they want to be able to support their own foundation or (2, as the article implies), they cynically hope to avoid donating money altogether is immaterial: The filing documents in no way prove the founders to lack an altruistic interest in "saving the world." At best, it indicates that they might want to keep their own money, but don't know (how) to stand up for themselves. An IPO from a true proponent of the virtue of productiveness and the trader principle might make no mention of charity, or it might include some mention of charitable donations towards causes Brady would strongly disapprove of. But that would be up to the founders.

-- CAV

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