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No Surprise: Snapchat Makes Money Disappear, Too

Turns out Snapchat is like every other startup ever.

Asa Mathat for Re/code

It turns out Snapchat is just like every other startup: It lost a lot of money before it started making any.

Snapchat lost $128 million in the first 11 months of 2014, according to documents obtained by Gawker. That’s a lot of spending for a three-year-old company. But it’s also not extraordinary for high-growth, high-value startups. See: The leaked information about Uber’s financials this month.

That said, there are a few things worth noting that put that $128 million number into a little more context.

For starters, Snapchat wasn’t bringing in revenue for the vast majority of the year, so it’s no surprise it spent a lot more than it brought in. It didn’t launch its first revenue product (which has since been placed on the back burner) until October of that year, and didn’t really get aggressive with advertising until early 2015 when it started selling ad space alongside its Discover content.

What’s more important is where Snapchat sits now. Re/code reported last month that the company is aiming for $50 million in revenue this year and more than $200 million in 2016. But Snapchat doesn’t share those numbers publicly — basically no private company does — so its business is still very much a mystery, at least on the spending side.

But there are a few surprising line items on the documents published by Gawker, including a $48.6 million item labeled “Extraordinary expense.” Also, Snapchat spent $47 million on “Product” last year, what feels like a hefty sum. It’s possible that number is tied to the app’s video efforts. It’s not cheap to host video content, and Snapchat started doing that regularly in 2014 with its My Story and Live Story features. It’s doing even more video today thanks to Discover.

Snapchat has also been raising money like crazy; it raised over $1 billion in capital in the first six months of 2015 alone. Any company raising massive money like that is probably spending the same way.

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