Jul 122017

Goldman Sachs fesses up to making a huge mistake about Snapchat, telling investors in an analyst note how they over-estimated the company’s potential and ability to execute on advertising opportunities.

There’s much to be said about Wall Street’s role in supporting Silicon Valley’s greater fool model and Business Insider has certainly been across how Goldman Sachs and its fellow bankers have been less than honest in their public dealings over the Snap float.

While the ethics and behaviour of Wall Street bankers and venture capital investors is a worthy topic for discussion, one of the notable things about Snap’s float is that it was too expensive.

The initial IPO valued the company, which at the time was reporting $500 million a year in losses, at $28 billion dollars. It’s not incidental the float incurred $85 million in advisors’ fees to Goldman Sachs and their friends.

A high valuation might be good for the early investors and employers – particularly those who sold in the initial ‘stag’ that saw the stock jump 60% on its first day – but for the company itself, and the later shareholders, it’s a disaster as the business’ management frantically struggles to find revenue streams to justify the market price.

This is the same problem that has crippled Twitter, instead of focusing on long term value to customers, users and shareholders, the company has desperately flailed around looking for quick hits to its revenue numbers.

While Twitter and Snapchat are outliers, the same problem faces smaller businesses which have attracted huge investments. The pressure to justify the money at stake becomes crippling and almost always damages the long term prospects of the company.

Too much investor money is rarely a good thing. As with much in life, quality and not quantity is what really matters for companies looking for capital.

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