Technology Snapchat accused of lying about user numbers to inflate value of IPO

11:51  06 january  2017
11:51  06 january  2017 Source:   The Guardian

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A former Snapchat employee has accused the tech company of lying about its user numbers to deceive investors ahead of a possible bn initial public offering and has filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination Related: Snapchat prepares for IPO that could value app at bn, reports say.

Snapchat has been accused of inflating user growth statistics for its IPO , it has emerged in a lawsuit by a former employee. A former Snapchat employee claimed that the firm had an “institutional pandemic” of lying about user figures.

‘Snapchat will not let anything stand in its way of an IPO, including its obligations to represent material facts accurately,’ the suit claims. © Design Museum ‘Snapchat will not let anything stand in its way of an IPO, including its obligations to represent material facts accurately,’ the suit claims. A former Snapchat employee has accused the tech company of lying about its user numbers to deceive investors ahead of a possible $25bn initial public offering and has filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination over his refusal to cooperate.

Anthony Pompliano filed a lawsuit against the social media company on Wednesday in Los Angeles. In the suit, Pompliano alleges that Snapchat misrepresented its internal numbers about users and growth, “out of the avarice of the small group of executives” who hope for a huge valuation.

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This will allow users to effortlessly record what they see by just tapping their sunglasses and share it on Snapchat . In your opinion and if the stats. are correct in the estimated value of Snap Inc.(20 Billion) what do you think the IPO would open at if the March 2017 time frame is correct?

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“Snapchat will not let anything stand in its way of an IPO, including its obligations to represent material facts accurately,” the suit claims. “Mr Pompliano was terminated because he refused to participate in a scheme to deceive the public and artificially inflate Snapchat’s valuation in anticipation of its IPO.”

Seven full pages and several phrases about what Snapchat allegedly misrepresented are redacted in the complaint because of a confidentiality agreement between Pompliano and Snap Inc, the parent company of Snapchat.

A spokeswoman for Snap, Mary Ritti, said the company had reviewed the complaint. “It has no merit,” she said in a statement. “It is totally made up by a disgruntled former employee.”

According to the lawsuit, Snapchat executive Imran Khan and others “repeatedly” made false claims about the company’s numbers to investors, such as the Chinese retailer Alibaba. Pompliano also alleges that Khan and executives misreported at least two statistics to him when they persuaded him to leave Facebook for the burgeoning startup.

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Snapchat’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, “simply did not care about user engagement metrics”, according to the complaint, until executives realized that such numbers would influence investors in the company’s IPO.

Pompliano claims that he raised concerns with three senior executives about misreported numbers, only to be disregarded. The suit alleges that executives, overseeing an “institutional pandemic of misrepresenting” facts, feared Pompliano would alert the press or investors. It also alleges that executives tried to force Pompliano to break agreements he signed with Facebook and reveal proprietary information.

Pompliano was fired in September 2015, three weeks after he began work at Snapchat. He claims the company ran a “smear campaign” against him, portraying him as “incompetent”. He is seeking damages and an injunction against the company over this claim, as well as lost wages, “harm to his professional reputation” and punitive damages based on Snapchat’s “misconduct”.

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Last year, anonymous sources with Snap told Bloomberg News that Snapchat had more than 150 million daily users who upload more than 10bn videos a day. In November, Snap filed paperwork for a possible $25bn IPO, according to the Wall Street Journal, with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs as lead investors.

The startup is in a heated competition against Facebook for advertising money, especially in video and messaging. The corporations have waged an arms race of app features since 2013, when Snapchat rejected an acquisitions offer from Facebook. Last September, Facebook was caught having vastly overstated statistics about videos, for more than two years, to advertisers. The company said the exaggeration was due to an error in its measuring system and apologized.

  • You can contact the writer at alan.yuhas@theguardian.com

Snapchat simplifies its app as it prepares for IPO .
Ahead of its IPO scheduled later this year, Snapchat has upgraded its app to make it easier for users to navigate the social networking platform.  The new design makes it easier for users to navigate through a search bar, located at the top of the screen and also serves as a shortcut to the profile. Snapchat told CNBC that the search bar lets you explore by title to find specific publisher stories and Our Stories in iOS. In addition to this, users can also access their profile from any screen by tapping Bitmoji, or the ghost icon if the Bitmoji is not linked. The design also makes it easier to find friends.

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