A Silicon Valley high school turned $15,000 into millions with a very smart Snap investment

Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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Teens are obsessed with Snapchat. So it’s apt that the market debut of parent company Snap is making one high school very rich.

Saint Francis High School, a private Roman Catholic school in Mountain View, California, disclosed today that it invested $15,000 in Snap’s seed round of financing in 2012. The school made the investment at the urging of Barry Eggers, a founder at Lightspeed Venture Partners and chair of the Saint Francis growth fund. At the time, Eggers had two children enrolled at the school.

The investment gave Saint Francis about 2.1 million Class A shares in Snap. The school sold two-thirds of those shares at $17 each—the IPO price set by Snap last night—to raise about $24 million, it told Quartz today. The remaining third of its holding, roughly 700,000 shares, could be even more lucrative. Snap’s stock ended its first day of trading today at $24.51 per share, up 44%.

Back in 2012, Lightspeed led Snap’s seed funding with a $485,000 investment, and went on to invest another $7.6 million in the company over two subsequent rounds. In a note published this morning, Eggers recalls being convinced to bet on Snapchat after seeing his daughter, Natalie, and her friends absorbed in it one day after school.

“How often do you use it?” I asked.

“I used to send 5 or 6 a day. Now I get 30 a day!” Natalie said.

The other girls nodded in agreement and showed me some of their Snaps.

“Do boys use it?”

My son Andrew nonchalantly walked into the room: “Yeah, we use it a lot too.”

In a letter to the school community on Thursday, Saint Francis president Simon Chiu called the investment outcome “momentous news.” The money will be used “accelerate” the school’s pursuit of goals outlined by its “strategic plan,” which include launching a comprehensive STEM program, expanding funding for financial aid, and providing additional training to faculty and staff.

“This incredible boon will not, by itself, completely fund the goals of the strategic plan, but it will help lay the necessary foundation and give us a remarkable head start,” Chiu wrote.

Saint Francis established its growth fund in 1990 as a way of generating additional revenue for the school. In 1996, the fund returned $2.1 million on a $25,000 investment in Advanced Fibre Communications, a telecom services company, according to the school’s website.

Eggers said the payoff for Saint Francis on the Snap IPO is unprecedented. “I don’t think there have been any other high schools that have invested so early in a company such as Snap,” he said.