Snapchat wrapped up 2014 on a pretty good note: a privacy complaint from the FTC is now settled, and the company raised a whole ton of cash to close out the year. As most people were making plans to ring in 2015 yesterday afternoon, Snapchat quietly issued an SEC filing that shows it's raised $485.6 million from a pool of 23 investors in recent months. That puts its valuation at at least $10 billion, according to Bloomberg.
As TechCrunch notes, Snapchat didn't disclose who chipped in, nor which investment firm led the round. That's believed to be Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with Yahoo among other investors eager to hitch a ride on Snapchat's incredible rise and continued growth. TechCrunch reports hearing that with this latest funding factored in, Snapchat's valuation could actually be closer to $20 billion. Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton is listed among "related persons" in the filing, and BuzzFeed says leaks from the Sony hack confirm he's corresponded with Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel on the subject of funding.
It's money that the company very much needs as it reportedly contends with hosting costs and legal fees that total in the tens of millions every month. But even with those challenges, the strong funding performance reinforces that investors believe Spiegel can turn his hit sensation app into a long-term success — in contrast to the self-destructing, ephemeral messages that users send through Snapchat. And more people are taking their first snap every day; the app's monthly active user total is nearing the 200 million mark, according to TechCrunch, up from the 100 million figure floated by The Wall Street Journal in August.