Editor's Notes: Snapchat woos London investors, Venezuela's vice president reaches a new low and Channel 4's Jon Snow needs to get a grip

Christian May
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Snapchat has brought its IPO train to London, but how many investors will jump on the bandwagon? (Source: Getty)
re you a Snapchatter? Do you even know what I’m talking about?

Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to send images and videos to each other, often augmented by the addition of creative filters or effects. It’s also increasingly used as a platform for viewing and sharing news content. You may not be a user (most snappers are between 18 and 34) but you can’t have missed the hype about its upcoming float.

Read more: Wellcome Trust set for $100m windfall from Snap IPO as tech firm woos City investors

Parent company Snap Inc is looking to raise at least $3bn (£2.4bn) in an offering that could value the company at a staggering $25bn. Not bad for a company that lost $273m in 2015 and $515m last year. Not bad is one way to put it. Utterly insane, is another.

The main question is whether Snap turns out to be a Facebook or a Twitter. The former has a growing user base and makes a healthy profit whereas the latter is failing to attract new tweeters and its share price is taking a beating. Snap’s charismatic millennial CEO, Evan Spiegel, has been in London this week in a bid to woo investors – many of whom are sceptical of the tech firm’s lack of profit and questionable corporate governance arrangements.

Read more: Would you have to be mad to invest in Snapchat's IPO?

Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University’s business school, summed up some of the concerns in the market with a withering attack on Spiegel, telling Market Watch: “If you’re on the cover of Vogue or end up in J Crew ads, it’s a negative forward-looking indicator that says your CEO has his priorities all f**ked up.” Galloway went on to warn that “Snap is a loser and will ring the bell at the top of the social-media market.”

Potential investors have raised their eyebrows over a business that will rely heavily on advertising revenue. Snap claims that, on any given day, it reaches 41 per cent of all 18 to 34-year-olds in the US.

But to hedge their bets, they also emphasise Spectacles, the physical product that accompanies its mobile app. A tangible product might elevate them above Twitter, but $25bn? Don’t bank on it.

What ever happened to that Sajid Javid?

Things could have been very different for Sajid Javid. Not long ago he was a rising star, popular with Tory members. He was also one of Osborne’s chosen few, and Javid chucked his lot in with Remain.

Read more: 11 things we learned from Sajid Javid's speech on the housing white paper

Alas, the people voted Leave and Osborne was dismissed to the bank benches. Today, Javid cuts a lonely figure as colleagues round on him for his handling of the business rates row. He’s not exactly hit rock bottom, but his star burns less brightly than it did.

Channel 4's Jon Snow needs to get a grip

Yesterday, Bank of England deputy governor Minouche Shafik urged people to break out of their echo-chambers of self-selected news and views.

Read more: BoE official lashes out at online "echo chambers" and "fake news"

Channel 4’s Jon Snow ought to follow her advice. In recent days he has described Brexit as “striking bitterness into the social fabric” and has lumped the referendum result in with the North Korean assassination and Russia’s nuclear arsenal as evidence of the “crises in our time”.

Calm down, Jon. Look beyond the walls of C4.

Do not fear the rise of the robots

To the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall for dinner with one of the country’s top experts on artificial intelligence (AI), Dr Peter Bentley.

Read more: Stephen Hawking: Artificial intelligence research crucial to the human race

At a time when many pundits and politicians are whipping up a panic over the potential for robots and AI to eradicate jobs, Dr Bentley offers a refreshingly optimistic take. “I’m not convinced they understand the technologies they’re talking about,” he says of the doomsayers, insisting that technological progress has always been an “enabling and empowering force.”

Leading the way on mental health issues

Nobody suffering poor mental health finds it easy to talk about, especially not at work. It will only get easier when those at the top lead by example.

Read more: 9 in 10 employees suffer in silence over mental health

Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia has done exactly this, telling staff earlier this week that she has suffered from depression in the past and that she doesn’t want any of her employees to feel they can’t seek support at work. Her comments, and her candour, will make a real difference and we should salute her.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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