Twitter set to float in 2014
Microblogging platform Twitter last Thursday announced its hotly-anticipated intention to float in a tweet that immediately went viral.
Disappointingly, however, the company, whose very foundations lie in transparency, is taking advantage of a rule adopted last year by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which allows "emerging growth" companies with revenues under one billion to keep financial details confidential until they get closer to the initial public offering (IPO).
The announcement, made on the site itself, was quickly followed by one saying simply: "Back to work". It's a canny ploy, intent on conveying the management is both too busy and too cool to fuss or make a comment, but that won't cut it in the City, and the more so as there will still be institutional investors out there who have never got to grips with the hashtag world.
So far we don't know very much more than that the company has raised $1.6 billion (£1 billion), employs 1,300 staff and is estimated to have annual revenues of around $1 billion.
It's clear, however, that big efforts are being made to make the site more commercial by boosting the variety of advertising products available. Last year for example the platform launched its Cards program, which allows partners such as newspaper publishers to attach features such as mobile app downloads to their tweets. This week, the founders announced the $350 million purchase of MoPub, a start-up firm focusing on mobile advert exchanges, to help it generate more mobile phone advertising.
Twitter will hope to avoid the experience of social networking giant Facebook (FB), whose $16 billion flotation last May proved such a let-down. However, Facebook shares finally surpassed their previous high of $45 on Monday, which will have played a part in the timing of Twitter's announcement.
This abridged article first appeared on our sister website Interactive Investor
An Initial Public Offering is the US equivalent of flotation, and is the first sale of equity in a private company in the form of shares (know as stocks in the US) to the public in order to raise capital to finance growth.
Flotation involves a company selling a percentage of itself in the form of shares on a regulated exchange, such as the London Stock Exchange. Prior to flotation, the company is independently audited and valued and shares offered for sale at a price determined by the company’s value. After flotation, the shares are traded on the exchange for what the market deems they are worth. Shares are bought by other financial institutions and private investors.