Key to the deal was Imran Khan, who was hired by Snapchat as chief strategy officer last December, the source said. Khan was formerly head of Asia investment banking at Credit Suisse and was instrumental to executing Alibaba’s massive IPO in the US. He has been credited for raising Credit Suisse’s stature in tech banking.
Alibaba was in talks with Snapchat last year but the rumored investment did not take place ahead of its IPO. A separate source confirmed media reports that the latest round would give Snapchat a $15bn valuation. The company had previously raised close to $650 million in six rounds of funding and turned down a $3bn acquisition offer from Facebook.
The app allows users to send photos and texts to friends that disappear after a few seconds. It has captured more than 100 million monthly active users but is yet to generate significant revenue. The company’s co-founders, 24-year-old Evan Spiegel and 26-year-old Bobby Murphy, are among the world’s youngest billionaires with a net worth of $1.5bn each.
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