Why it matters: Snap’s evolution is the prime example of the challenges of going public and boldly taking on giant adversaries such as Facebook. The company had a series of disappointments last year, but it’s slowly moving in the right direction, which has investors dreaming again about its long term potential. The old Android app had been a particularly weak spot, but is now better in every way and gaining traction — a sign that the company is better off leaving the splashy features aside and focusing on the essentials.
Snap has had a better than expected second quarter this year. The company managed to add 13 million daily active users to its app on top of the 190 million it had before. Earnings were also better than the same time last year, with a 37% year over year growth and so far no unexpected source code leaks to spoil the good news.
The growth comes thanks to Snap’s continued investment in global expansion, as well as its ability to recover from a series of bad decisions made last year, such as a failed redesign that only served to drive users away and reduce general interest and engagement.
Interestingly, Snap’s renewed growth is in part the result of a set of gender-swap filters that quickly went viral and brought between 7 and 9 million new users to the platform. The other 4 to 6 million can be attributed to the company’s continued product development.
A notable example is the new Android app released earlier this year, built from scratch to offer a closer and more functional experience (getting it on par to the iPhone version). CEO Evan Spiegel noted Android Snapchatters are sending seven percent more snaps, and announced new partnerships with global telecom companies to make Snap less costly in places like India, where cellular data is at a premium.
The company isn’t out of the woods financially, but it did manage to reduce its quarterly losses to $255 million from $353 million at this time last year, beating analyst expectations.
The momentum has advertisers flocking to the platform in greater numbers and investors hoping for more, which sent the company stock up a notch, hovering at $17 as of writing. Snap is “cautiously optimistic” that it will be able to tout similar growth trends next year, but so far the Twitter-like strategy of focusing on less exciting but important updates to the user experience seems to be working.
Snapchat’s competition looks tougher than ever, with Facebook-owned Instagram passing the 1 billion active user mark, and Chinese-owned TikTok reaching 1 billion installs.