California High School Makes Millions from $15,000 Snapchat Investment

"These are exciting and humbling times for Saint Francis High School," school president Simon Chiu wrote

A high school in Mountain View, California, has raked in millions from a $15,000 investment they made in Snapchat five years ago.

The company behind the popular messaging app Snapchat made its trading debut Thursday at more than $24 a share – nearly 50 percent higher than its IPO price, CNBC reports.

And early investor Saint Francis High School, a private Roman Catholic school, sold two-thirds of their shares, according to Bloomberg, earning them $24 million.

In early 2012, Saint Francis parent Barry Eggers, a founding partner at the venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, was intrigued when his daughters came home from school one afternoon talking about Snapchat, which was new at the time, Saint Francis president Simon Chiu wrote in a letter to the community.

Eggers did his research and a partner at his firm tracked down one of the founders who was operating the business out of his Stamford dorm room at the time.

“Barry knew he wanted to invest in the promising company, and in a stroke of remarkable generosity he decided to invite Saint Francis to join him,” the letter reads in part.

After Eggers pitched the idea to the board, who agreed, Snapchat received its first seed investment of $500,000 — $485,000 from Lightspeed and the remaining $15,000 from the SF Grown Fund, an investment fund created in 1990 by partners and former Saint Francis president Kevin Makley.

Since that original investment, Lightspeed has invested a total of $8.1 million in the company over the years, according to CNN tech, and now owns a stake worth nearly $2 billion.

“We didn’t have real high expectations,” Kevin Makley, the school’s former president, told the news outlet. “We collectively decided that this was going to be a … small investment. So we’ll take a shot at it.”

Added current president Chiu: “It was a little bit of fish out of water for me. I’m an educator. It’s not what I do.”

Saint Francis had two million shares of the company and made their millions after selling 1.4 million of them, according to NBC.

That money translated into more than two million shares for Saint Francis. Of that, the school has sold 1.4 million, but plans to hold onto roughly 600,000 shares.

“I am absolutely celebrating. This is a tremendous day!” Makley told the news outlet.

The school is now thinking about how they’ll spend some of their newfound riches.

“With the full impact has yet to be realized, the return on the investment will allow us to accelerate the goals of our strategic plan, which emphasizes our commitment to make Catholic education more affordable and accessible to our community, recruit and retain outstanding faculty and staff, and develop innovative programs and facilities,” Chiu wrote.

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