Snap IPO: While Silicon Beach parties, local activists fume

Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and protesters in Venice (Credit: Wikipedia, Instagram user @chance_foreman)
Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and protesters in Venice (Credit: Wikipedia, Instagram user @chance_foreman)

Despite protests on its home turf of Venice, Snap Inc. — the company behind Snapchat — launched its IPO with a bang. Its stock traded at $24 per share as of Thursday afternoon, reflecting a 41 percent bump from its initial pricing of $17.

The Los Angeles company now has a market capitalization of about $33 billion — three times that of Twitter. The IPO was so popular, CNBC reported, that it was 12 times oversubscribed.

But not everyone is on board with Snap’s success. Some Venice residents rallied against the startup’s expansion in the beachside neighborhood, lamenting that Snapchat has pushed out local businesses and displaced workers.

Gathering outside of Snap’s offices on Ocean Front Walk, anti-gentrification protesters held up signs that read “SnapOut of it” and “Save Venice” on Wednesday. Snap reportedly sent lunch to the protestors — which did not alleviate the tensions.

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Part of Snap’s antagonization can be attributed to its real estate strategy. Instead of consolidating its 2,000-person staff into one or two corporate headquarters, the company leases numerous spaces in Venice and beyond. As of late last year, its properties in Silicon Beach tallies to above 200,000 square feet, including 248 Westminster Avenue and 909 Ocean Front Walk. The spread out nature of its real estate has given activists fuel for their claims that Snap changed Venice irreversibly. It was also listed as a real estate risk factor in their IPO filings.

In November, The Real Deal reported that Snap in talks to ink a lease for up to 400,000 square feet in Santa Monica Business Park. Nearby, Snap already occupies 79,000 square feet at the SaMo airport.

One of its first office in Venice, Curbed reported, is a former weed dispensary. [CNBC] [LAT]Cathaleen Chen