snap logo on a London street scene
Yes, Snap has a presence in London. But it's not making the city its international HQ. PHOTO: Henry McIntosh

Oh Snap! 

Everyone, it seemed, was happy to report Venice, Calif.-based Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, was making London its international headquarters.

But guess what? It didn't. And it isn't.

Only HQ in California

"Today, the media reported that we selected London as our International HQ. That is not true. We have one HQ, in Venice, and many offices throughout the world. We did, however, make a change to the way we operate our business in London," Team Snap blogged today.

Snap — which officially rebranded from Snapchat in September — has been present in London since late 2015 and recently opened an office in Paris, France.

Going forward, the company  explained, it will bill it's advertising revenue from the UK and a few other countries through a UK entity. "This allows us to pay taxes in the UK, which we believe is part of being a good local partner as we grow our business," the company noted.

"We want to pay taxes in the countries where we sell advertising, and this is an important step in building the infrastructure to achieve that goal."

The way Snap plans to operate its London office contrasts with companies like Google and Apple, which have drawn criticism for locating offices in countries like Ireland and Luxembourg to benefit from more lucrative tax rates.

Founded in 2011, Snap developed Snapchat, a mobile messaging application, and Spectacles, pairs of camera-enabled eyeglasses that can take pictures while the user is wearing them. The company has quietly filed to go public, which could happen as early as March, reports say.

UK Interests

“We believe in the UK creative industries," Claire Valoti, general manager of Snap's UK operations said in a statement. "The UK is where our advertising clients are, where more than 10 million daily Snapchatters are, and where we've already begun to hire talent."

Snap currently has around 75 employees UK, up from six at the end of 2015. It is  looking to add a nearby site to its office in central London's Soho district.

At the 2016 Internet Advertising Bureau Engage in October, Valoti said more than 75 percent of its 10 million daily users are older than 18, and that 43 percent of those adult users are parents.

Snap hired Valoti from Facebook, where she was the director of agency partnerships. She has persuaded a number of other heavy hitters to sign on, including Jonathan Davies, who was the director of brand partnerships in Europe for BuzzFeed; Tariq Slim, Twitter's former head of telco and tech for the UK; and Camilla Schilbach, former GameAnalytics business development director and before that the head of AOL Advertising UK group.

According to advertising and marketing analysts eMarketer, Snap’s revenue for this year will be $1 billion, but it is growing as much as eight times faster as its rivals. It predicted Snapchat would expand its user base by 27.2 percent in 2016 — the final figures are still not available — reaching 58.6 million users. That compares to 56.8 million for Twitter and 54.6 million for Pinterest.

In addition, eMarketer expects Snap to add 26.9 million more users by 2020, double what Twitter and Pinterest are expected to add.