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Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP) late Tuesday posted impressive quarterly earnings and increased its user growth guidance, sending its shares much higher in late trading.

Snap's sales climbed to $286 million in the fourth quarter, up 72% from the same period a year earlier, as the company transitions to an automated ad sales auction similar to Google and Facebook.

Liu said that the company is making changes to the app due to pressure from Wall Street to grow its user base, but broadening the appeal - even Spiegel has admitted Snapchat is hard to figure out - could risk alienating its younger users. Average daily users for Snapchat also rose from a dismal third quarter to 187 million, up 8.9 million. The firm now has a $16.00 price objective on the stock.

"Our business really came together towards the end of a year ago", said Evan Spiegel, Snap's chief executive, on a conference call on Tuesday evening.

To head off this assault, Snap needs to grow. The change is supposed to make Snapchat more appealing to a broader audience, but it's unclear if that will be the result, he said. The new version has already launched to 40 million users and will release worldwide in the first quarter, the company said in the call. The Snapchat operator was able to put up solid daily active user (DAU) growth that impressed investors.

Instagram, which has over twice the number of daily users that Snapchat has and is backed by Facebook and its huge amounts of cash, has been a threat to crush its rival through copying its features like disappearing slide shows and photo filters.

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Snap crushed Wall Street's revenue targets in its fourth quarter, as it filled its Snapchat app with more ads than ever and tapped into a broader group of consumers that use Android phones. They also noted gains in average revenue per user, when compared with the old design.

Despite a period of staff cutbacks plus misgivings over its recent redesign, Snap posted strong revenue and user increases in Q4 which proved popular with investors, with its leadership trumpeting its adtech investments as well as increased traction with both large and small advertisers.

"It's time for brands to embrace each of the "social" platforms as unique advertising vehicles". Revenue was also positive, raking in $285.7 million, again, besting analyst predictions of $253.2 million. Full year revenue was $824.9 million, up 104 per cent year-over-year.

Snap shares lifted 18 percent in after-hours trade to $16.62 following the fourth quarter update for the company known for its ephemeral smartphone messages and other online content. North America was responsible for the most revenue and the average Snapchatter there created $2.75 per quarter.

Snapchat, which was originally designed as, and found success in being, the answer to the uber-connectedness and constant validation of already-established social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, was beginning to see its star fade a bit as those aforementioned platforms incorporated (copied, you might say?) the things that made Snapchat so unique.