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Snapchat users have an 'ephemeral attention span' and that's a problem, says IPO expert

The big concern for Snap investors is just how long the Snapchat app can keep users interested, said IPOfinancial.com's David Menlow.

"This ephemeral attention span is what's really going to just eat away at all these other new applications," he said. "So, the stickiness of it, whether people are going to stay with this application, that's the question."

On Thursday, Snap officially filed its paperwork to sell shares in an initial public offering, opening up its books for the first time for public scrutiny as the company prepares for its investor roadshow. Investors are grappling with how to interpret the money-losing company's financials and whether its trajectory in the public markets will look more like social super star Facebook or troubled Twitter.

Despite Snap's slowing growth rate and slowing user growth at the time it filed, comparisons to Twitter are not warranted, he said.

"Twitter's a very different company even though it did come into the marketplace losing money," said Menlow.

It is far more important to watch out for Snapchat competitors that draw users away from the app and make it less "sticky," he said.

Like Facebook, Snap will go public as a company controlled by its co-founders, who own nearly 90% of its voting shares. Shares offered through the IPO will contain no voting rights at all.

"That's the only weapon that you have, so I would not obsess about it," he said. "If people don't want that, don't play it."

Still, this voting structure is not unique to Snap, Menlow pointed out. A lot of other tech and media companies, including Google and Facebook, use dual-class voting structures to ensure their founders are always in control. Proponents of this structure argue it allows founders to focus on long-term strategy.