New York (AFP) - Snapchat parent Snap Inc. priced its share offering Wednesday to give the popular social network a market value of some $24 billion.
Snap said in a statement its initial public offering (IPO) share price was set at $17, above the expected range of $14 to $16, amid high investor demand.
That will give the California startup known for its vanishing messages $3.4 billion in cash as it moves to expand beyond its core of young smartphone users.
It also makes Snap the biggest share listing in the tech sector since Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba in 2014 and the largest US tech firm to make its market debut since Facebook in 2012.
The shares were set to begin trading Thursday under the symbol SNAP on the New York Stock Exchange.
Snapchat, which became wildly popular with young smartphone users keen to share messages that don't linger, is seen by some in the social media world as a winning bet like Facebook, and by others as a lackluster performer like Twitter.
Snap said in its regulatory filing last month it took in $404 million in revenue last year but lost $515 million.
According to the filing, 158 million people use Snapchat daily, and over 2.5 billion Snaps are created every day.
While Snapchat is known for its ephemeral messages, it has been expanding its partnerships to offer a variety of content from media groups such as Vice, CNN and the New York Times.
Snapchat said it expects to derive most of its revenue from advertising, where it will compete against rivals such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.