Snapchat has scored a $20 million investment from Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The deal comes as part of yet to be completed round of funding that values Snapchat, a revenue-less sexting app with semi-anonymous users, at $10 billion.
Snapchat's private market valuation has risen five-fold in less than a year. 24-year old founder Evan Spiegel is a paper billionaire three years after reportedly coming up with Snapchat after a beer and testosterone-fueled brain-storming session with his fraternity brothers.
The knee jerk reaction to this type of news is to call a top and start prattling on about how this is just the kind of thing we saw before the dot.com crash. That's wrong. This isn't a bubble. Bubbles are public manias. Companies like Snapchat are getting marked up by billions behind the scenes. The public is decidedly not welcome to invest in Snapchat or even Twitch. Everyone fretting over the "new tech bubble era risks" should actually be upset over the fact that they are being kept away from the party.
Or... and this is a radical thought, but stay with me... we can take a step back from reading everything as a sign of the end of the world and appreciate this remarkable moment in time. Capitalism only works when the most extreme risks are borne by those who can best afford it, in every sense.
In the case of Snapchat you have classic, rich, old money at Kleiner backing a smart, aggressive, extremely punchable young person. This is how it should be. If Snapchat blows up it really won't matter, but if Spiegel is the real deal we could end up with something very cool that wouldn't otherwise exist. Seems like a reach, but that Zuckerberg guy turned out OK and Facebook (FB) wasn't any less creepy than Snapchat when it got started.
Companies like Uber and Tesla (TSLA) and other products of venture money are changing the world in profound, awesome ways. Despite two cataclysmic meltdowns in the last 15 years the economy is generating better, faster more competitive products at an increasing rate. The country is feeling frisky again. We're taking risks in a controlled way. Instead of whining about bubbles, look around and savor the moment. We live in a cyclical world. If you don't enjoy the upswings the downturns can be a nightmare.