A year after Facebook dropped $19 billion for WhatsApp, that same amount is being touted as the possible valuation for Snapchat. The Los Angeles-based company, hatched in 2011 out of a Stanford frat house, is reportedly seeking a new round of funding that would value it at between $16 billion and $19 billion, making it the third most valuable privately-held company in the world.
Bloomberg cites a confidential source in reporting that Snapchat — an app that allows users to send messages that self-destruct — is looking to raise approximately $500 million in new funding. The company has already raised $648 million over the course of six rounds of funding, with the latest, in December, netting $485 million. Its current value is estimated at around $10 billion, dwarfing the rejected $3 billion offer from Facebook to buy the app less than two years ago.
If it reaches $19 billion, Snapchat would be the No. 3 venture-backed company in existence, behind only Chinese tech company Xiaomi ($45 billion) and car service app Uber Technologies ($40 billion).
Snapchat has grown rapidly and now boasts an estimated 200 million users — it was the fastest growing app in 2014, according to market researcher GlobalWebIndex. The company has also shown signs it wants to expand beyond its teen-centric identity and recently announced Discover, a new curated service that feeds news and entertainment from companies like ESPN, Vice and Warner Music directly to the user.
Snapchat’s curatorial ambitions also popped up in leaked internal emails that emerged during the Sony hack. The emails detailed Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel’s meetings with Sony execs to discuss plans for launching a record label and promoting artists through the Snapchat platform.
Earlier this month Snapchat teamed with Madonna to premiere a music video for “Living for Love,” the first single off her new album Rebel Heart. It was the first music video to premiere on the app’s Snap Channel.