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Last Thursday, Snapchat’s parent company Snap, Inc. went public in the largest tech IPO since Alibaba in 2014. One of the most unusual winners of the blockbuster IPO was Saint Francis High School, a Catholic school located in Mountain View, California.
The school became one of the first investors in the popular ephemeral messaging company when it plopped down $15,000 five years ago in Snapchat’s seed-funding round. That stake is now worth “tens of millions of dollars”, according to The Information.
That stroke of good fortune was thanks to one of the parents of pupils at Saint Francis High School, Barry Eggers, who is a venture capitalist and partner at Lightspeed Ventures. He came home one day to find that his daughter and her friends were all in his kitchen glued to their phones, Eggers explained in a Medium post.
“They were all absorbed in their phones and were laughing. I felt compelled to ask, “What are you all doing?” My daughter looked up at me and said: “Dad, have you seen this app? It’s called Snapchat.”
His daughter told him that Snapchat was one of the hottest apps at her school, along with Angry Birds and Instagram. After his son revealed that the boys at school were hooked on Snapchat as well, Eggers decided to reach out to Jeremy Liew, a fellow partner at Lightspeed. Liew did some detective work and tracked down Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel on Facebook, according to CNNTech.
They arranged a $500,000 investment from Lightspeed Venture Partners. Eggers decided to loop his daughter’s high school into the deal, allowing Saint Francis to provide $15,000 of that sum.
The $15,000 investment delivered around 2.1 million Snapchat shares to the school, two-thirds of which it sold to the tune of $24 million. Its remaining stake in the company is worth another $18.5 million or so, according to The Guardian. “I am happy to share some momentous news with you,” Simon Chiu, head of Saint Francis, said a letter to parents. “The school’s investment in Snap has matured and given us a significant boost.”
Chiu went on to explain in the letter that the money would go to providing financial aid to needy students, improving facilities, and recruiting staff as part of the school’s “strategic plan”.
Lightspeed also reaped a massive windfall from its fortuitous investment in Snapchat. The venture capital firm invested a total of $8.1 million in the company over the past few years, and now owns a stake worth nearly $2 billion.