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If you think Snap’s post-IPO stock slide is bad, remember that Facebook’s was worse

Facebook’s stock fell more than 50 percent in the year after its IPO. Can Snap pull a Facebook-like recovery?

Snap’s stock price has declined about 35 percent since its first day as a public company in early March. Closing yesterday at $15.69, that means most Snap investors — including the big banks that hyped the stock and took the company public — are under water.

That’s the bad news. The good news — if you want to call it that — is that Snap is hardly the only company to struggle in its first months on the stock market.

Facebook, now one of the most valuable companies in the world, also had a rough start as a public company. Facebook stayed below its IPO price a full year after it went public in May 2012. And on Sept. 4 of that year — about three-and-a-half months after its IPO — its stock hit an intra-day low of $17.55, down 58 percent from its first-day open of $42.05.

So with all the comparisons between Snap and Facebook — and the companies’ founders — should Snap investors loosen up?

Not necessarily. Snap isn’t Facebook, and the two companies went public at different phases in their development.

Snap’s business was growing much faster than Facebook’s around the time of its IPO, but Facebook’s business was already much bigger and more established. Facebook brought in $3.7 billion in the year before its IPO; Snap’s business was just over $400 million last year.

Facebook was also adding more users at the time of its IPO than Snap — despite already being much bigger. Facebook added 39 million new daily users per quarter in the full year before its IPO, ending 2011 with 483 million DAUs. Snap added just under 13 million new daily users per quarter in the year ahead of its IPO, ending 2016 with 158 million DAUs.

The biggest question for Facebook following its IPO was whether or not the company could transition its advertising business to a mobile-first user base. It did quickly, and these days, mobile advertising revenue makes up 83 percent of its business.

Snap’s biggest problem is, well, Facebook. Snap is facing immense pressure from Facebook and Instagram, which are copying many of its best features. The competition is strong enough that Morgan Stanley, Snap’s lead underwriter for its IPO, downgraded Snap stock Tuesday partly because of Instagram’s influence.

Can Snap grow into its valuation? Sure, perhaps, if it executes. Its business is still just a few years old and advertisers are, at the very least, interested in experimenting with giving Snap their money. The bigger concern is probably user growth, which has slowed in part because of Facebook and in part because Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has said publicly that he’s opposed to growth techniques, like push notifications, that other consumer apps use all the time.

Advertising companies need scale and consistent growth. Facebook delivered that. Snap is still hoping to.

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