Why Does Snap's CEO Think It's Not a Social Media Company?

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It's been a rough year and a half for investors in Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP), the company behind the still fairly popular video- and image-sharing app Snapchat. It has struggled through an ill-received redesign, as well as chronic troubles with monetizing its users, and today, shares are trading at around a third of their IPO price. And then, there's its latest self-inflicted wound: CEO Evan Speigel's recent memo to employees, in which he displays what the MarketFoolery guys describe as a disturbing lack of understanding about what Snap really is, and what it's capable of becoming.

In this segment from MarketFoolery, host Chris Hill and senior analysts Jason Moser and Matt Argersinger weigh in on the memo, consider where Snap is going, and give their views on the beaten-down stock.

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A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Oct. 10, 2018.

Chris Hill: Shares of Snap are down today. They're down about 13% this week, and the stock is hitting an all-time low. There are a few reasons for this. Jason, I have to believe that one of them is the memo from CEO Evan Spiegel to employees that was subsequently leaked to the media, in which, in the memo, Spiegel argues, among other things, that Snap's competitive advantage is that it is not a social media company. It's not?

Jason Moser: Yeah.

Hill: What is it?!

Moser: I think that's the big question after you read that memo.

Matt Argersinger: We've been asking that question for years.

Hill: I don't think that's helping, to have the CEO say, "We're not a social media company." If you polled 100 people who use Snap, 99 of them would say, "Yeah, it's a social media company."

Moser: I think it is. I think he's just in a weird place right now. There's a lot to go through with that memo. Having read it a couple of times, I mean, it seems to me, at least, that at this point, not only is Evan Spiegel in over his head, but he really doesn't even quite know how to define his company at this point. On the road show before they went public, it was a social network. He corrected everybody. They filed the IPO, and they're a camera company. Alright, you're a camera company, what does that mean? Now, they're going through and they're talking about, this memo, the phrase "fastest way to communicate" was brought up 26 times in that memo. That basically was the North Star. That's the North Star for his vision of what Snapchat is. It's the fastest way to communicate.

Now, that's absurd, I think, on a number of levels. No. 1, how do you even really quantify that? No. 2, if you're going in there to try to actually be that, there are a lot of concepts already out there that have you beat on a lot of fronts there, not only in the size of the user base, but I'd venture to say they probably are even faster than Snapchat is.

So, now, is it a camera company? Is it a social network? Is it the fastest way to communicate? Nobody really knows. Then, today, we see the original content that they are going to start wheeling out. Frankly, as a total Snap bear, I applaud them for that. I think that's probably a low-cost way for them to boost engagement. Now, the flip side to that is, if you look at the original content that's coming out, it's clearly marked for kids between the ages of 13 and 20.

Hill: It's not Ozark?

Moser: It just doesn't look like very relevant content for a big audience. I think therein lies the big problem for Snapchat. Their audience size is very limited, and I don't know if there's anything they can do to really change that, other than possibly acquiring or developing a new app that does something else.

Argersinger: I'll tell you what Snap is. It's still almost a $9 billion company. When you think about the fact that it's lost roughly three-quarters of its value since it IPO-ed last year, that's still a sizable company. Even at $6.75, I'm looking at it right here, there's still potentially a lot of downside to this business, especially if we see the user base continue to plateau and fall off, as we've seen. Yeah, don't go bottom fishing on this one, at least that's my personal advice here.

Hill: I was just going to say, if Sears has taught us anything, it's that a stock can always go lower.

Moser: Absolutely! There are a lot of lessons learned through a lot of the social-oriented companies that IPO-ed before Snap did. One of the points to really note here is that setting this goal of becoming profitable in 2019 is a very, very lofty goal when you consider the whole picture. No. 1, growth decelerating; No. 2, an extremely bloated cost structure; and No. 3 a potential liquidity crisis. Let's not forget that. They very well could run into a position where their balance sheet becomes a problem. And if they have to go through another capital raise, the market is going to punish this thing in the worst way. I just don't see any reason why you would go in and buy this stock.

I wouldn't short it at this point, either. It feels like the low-hanging fruit has been picked there, too. It's like it's in the twilight zone. We can sit here and make fun of it on Market Foolery, but don't buy it, don't short it. Just leave it alone.

Hill: Just walk on by?

Argersinger: Avoid it.

Moser: Just watch, pay attention, learn a lesson here or there.

Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Jason Moser has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Matthew Argersinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.