Note: This is not investment advice. Never take investment advice from cartoonists.
I have been following the story of Snapchat’s upcoming IPO. Experts say it will be one of the biggest IPOs of all time. But it also might be one of the biggest scams you will ever see in the investment world.
The first thing you need to know is that Instagram recently added a feature called “Stories” that is essentially Snapchat’s entire service in the form of one feature on Instagram. Snapchat’s biggest competitor is eating Snapchat’s lunch as we speak. Snapchat reports slowing growth.
Secondly, I have seen a pair of Snapchat’s new eye-glasses product and it kept me interested for nearly five seconds. I put the odds of success for that product at zero.
If you read the linked article from above, you can see that the value of the IPO depends on Snapchat inventing new products in the future. And those new products in the future would have to be worth more than what Snapchat has done so far. To me, investing in the Snapchat IPO looks like seed-funding a startup that doesn’t yet have an idea what it wants to do. That’s the sort of thing that experienced investors simply don’t do.
But an IPO is not limited to experienced investors. The ignorant public will have a chance to put money into Snapchat while irrationally believing that its past predicts its future. In other words, Snapchat’s future depends almost entirely on the public being ignorant of the second rule of investing: Past performance does not predict future returns.
As I mentioned at the top, you should never make investment decisions based on what cartoonists say. But if I’m being honest here, the Snapchat IPO doesn’t look like an “investment” at all. To me it looks like a massive scam playing out in public. It’s all completely legal because they disclose everything important. And the IPO will probably work out fine because the stock-buying public has a good feeling about the company and absolutely no understanding of what a good investment looks like.
Again, don’t take investment advice from cartoonists. Let’s call this a prediction, and a new test of what I call the Persuasion Filter. My filter says that Snapchat’s value is supported by nothing but a public illusion that the past predicts the future. If you remove that illusion, I don’t see anything of value. At least not something that an experienced investor would bother with.
I wish Snapchat well. I hope they innovate and succeed. Obviously they have tons of talent.
And always remember the second rule of investing: Past performance does not predict future returns. You might also want to remember the first rule of investing: Don’t listen to investment advice from cartoonists.
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