03/02/2017 11:41 GMT | Updated 04/02/2017 08:40 GMT

Snapchat's US Share Listing Is Set To Be The Biggest In Years

The firm's 26-year-old founder is in for a very big payout.

It started life in California as an ephemeral photo-sharing app and quickly gained notoriety as a platform for sexting.

Now Snapchat is heading for Wall Street with an initial public offering that would make it one of the most valuable tech firms on the planet.

On 2 February, the app’s owner Snap Inc filed an IPO for a widely reported $3bn (£2.4bn), valuing the company at more than $20bn (£16bn).

It would be the biggest listing on the US market since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2014 and Facebook’s meteoric $81bn valuation in 2012.

Andrew Harnik/AP
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and actress Miranda Kerr. The pair are engaged. 

Only three years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered Snapchat’s co-founder Evan Spiegel $3bn for a buyout. 

Spiegel astonished tech commentators by turning the offer down. The company is now worth around seven times more.

At that value, the 26-year-old would have a stake worth around $5bn. He will remain a major shareholder but is set for a big payout.

Co-founder Bobby Murphy, 28, also has a stake worth around $5bn.

Snapchat hasn’t yet made a profit. In 2016, the company’s sales grew rapidly to $404m, but it made a loss of $515m, its registration statement shows.

The app has more than 160 million daily users and makes money through advertising. Revenue was up 600 per cent last year.