The board of the high school in Mountain View agreed to invest $15,000 in seed money in Snap in 2012 based on a recommendation of Barry Eggers, a venture capitalist who was also a parent of a student at the school at the time.
That’s when the company was just getting started. Snap is the company behind the Snapchat photo and video messaging application.
Eggers, of the capital venture firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, is also the head of the school’s investment fund and had learned about the popular app from his Snapchat-using teen daughter.
The school held onto the investment until this week, when Snap shares sold for $17 each in an IPO. St. Francis sold 1.4 million shares at that price generating a gain of about $24 million.
The stock has since soared to about $29 as of Friday morning, making the remaining 600,000 shares that the school owns worth roughly $17 million.
“I think everyone understands it’s a pretty transformational event for our school,” school president Simon Chiu said in an interview Friday.
Eggers’ connection was the only reason the school reaped the windfall, and it’s very unlikely such a feat could be repeated outside Silicon Valley, said Stephen Andriole, a professor of business, accountancy and information systems at the Villanova School of Business in Pennsylvania
“The only way to do this is through a personal relationship,” he said. “The probability of success is quite low.”
None of the school’s nearly 1,800 students were involved in the investment venture, he said.