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Snap – Netscape On Steroids?

By Shlomo Maital


On August 1995, Wall St. witnessed a near-miracle.   A company called Netscape Communications, maker of the first widely-used Internet browser (given away for free) did an initial public offering of its shares.

     Here is what happened: “The stock was set to be offered at US$14 per share, but a last-minute decision doubled the initial offering to US$28 per share. The stock’s value soared to US$75 during the first day of trading, nearly a record for first-day gain. The stock closed at US$58.25, which gave Netscape a market value of US$2.9 billion.”

     That defying-gravity IPO showed Wall St. it had a sure-fire way to print money – issue shares of companies, and watch the manic rise print profits for insiders. The bubble burst in 2000/1, and then came a bigger collapse, in 2007/8.  

   Fast forward to the remarkable IPO of Snap Inc. (Snapchat, photo messaging company).

   “Snap shares closed their first day of trading up 44 percent at $24.48 a share, quenching a long drought in the market for tech IPOs.  More than 200 million shares — the entire size of the offering — changed hands over the course of the day, accounting for roughly 10 percent of the total volume of trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. The stock opened shortly before 11:20 a.m. on Thursday in New York, and started trading at $24 a share, rising 41.2 percent from its pricing at the open. The company, trading under the ticker SNAP, priced its public offering at $17 a share on Wednesday.  Share prices rose as high as $26.05,  and fell as low as $23.50.  The opening price of $24 puts the company’s market capitalization at about $33 billion, about the size of Marriot and Target. Twitter’s market cap is about 11 billion, while Facebook’s is about $395 billion. The young ephemeral photo messaging company posted a $515 million loss last year.

So, a company that lost over half a billion dollars last year is valued by the market at $33 b., equal to the valuation of a huge hotel chain, profitable, or a huge retail chain, also highly profitable.

     Here we go again.

It’s a Snap:  Webcams for People, Not Just Eaglets

By Shlomo Maital


Snap the Eaglet

  A new series in the New York Times Opinion section, called “Menagerie”,  launches today (June 21) with a fine story by Jon Mooallem about Snap, Crackle and Pop:  Three bald eagle eaglets,  shown on a webcam installed in a nest somewhere in Minnesota.  The webcam is called the Decorah Eagle cam.  It was put in place by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, and is aimed at increasing empathy and consideration for wildlife.

   Great idea!  Except – inadvertently, Snap’s mom or dad  stepped on her and broke her wing.  So many people watched daily on their screens as little Snap suffered.  The wildlife experts on principle will generally not intervene, because that interferes with Nature.  That’s reasonable. Except viewer outrage was so enormous, the Department finally had to use a lift to extract little Snap and euthanize her (she wasn’t strong enough to be saved). 

    It’s quite amazing how much empathy, sympathy, love and concern can be aroused for animals   (dogs, cats, dolphins, whales), especially if they are cute and furry.  When our little mixed-breed Yorkshire, Pixie, went missing for a few anxious moments recently, the sense of panic we felt was indescribable.   A webcam on a bald eagle’s nest can arouse immense public feeling, among millions.

     So, I have a modest suggestion.

      Can we perhaps install a webcam in the hut of a Darfur or South Sudan family, struggling to find water and raise babies?

       Can we install a webcam in the shack of a Syrian refugee family, in the Jordanian refugee camp that houses untold thousands of them?

       Can we put a webcam in the home of an illegal immigrant family in Italy, or America,  or Israel, where authorities threaten deportation daily?

       We do need to treat animals humanely;  it’s part of treating ALL living things humanely.  But we especially need to treat suffering HUMANS humanely, especially children.

     Sorry, Snap.  We do feel for you.  But I wish the same passion and empathy could be aroused for human babies and children, even though they don’t have fur or feathers.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital