By Lauren Hirsch and Liana B. Baker
(Reuters) - Messaging app Snapchat has filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an initial public offering (IPO), sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.
The filing puts the Venice, California-based company one step further towards its IPO, which sources say could come as soon as March and value it at $20 billion to $25 billion, making it one of the biggest technology offerings in recent years.
Under the U.S. Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, companies with less than $1 billion in revenue can secretly file for an IPO, allowing them to quietly test investor appetite while keeping financials confidential.
The sources asked not to be named because the information is private. A spokesman for Snap Inc, Snapchat's parent company, declined to comment.
Snapchat started in 2012 as a free mobile app that allows users to send photos that vanish within seconds. It has more than 100 million active users, about 60 percent of whom are aged 13 to 24, making it an attractive way for advertisers to reach millennials.
Awash in venture funding, the company raised $1.81 billion in May, which valued it at about $20 billion, media reports said at the time.
But investors worry that Snapchat's advertising sales, which began last October, is the company's only significant revenue source.
Snap in September starting describing itself as a camera company and earlier this month it debuted its $130 video-camera sunglasses. The glasses are equipped with a camera that connects wirelessly to a smartphone to take and send "snaps" - the company's terms for video and photo messages sent on its app.
According to postings on Twitter, a line of more than 100 people quickly formed in front of a vending machine on a Venice, California, boardwalk where the glasses were being sold.
The company's investors include General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital, T. Rowe Price and Lone Pine. Previous rounds included Fidelity Investment, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O).
Earlier this month, Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) venture capital arm CapitalG, earlier known as Google Capital, disclosed an investment in Snapchat by adding the social networking firm's logo to a page on its investment portfolio website.