Is Twitter Too Popular for Its Own Good?
Twitter is not a quiet company. According to marketing agency Saxum, Twitter boasts 554 million registered users and 9.6 million active users. The platform supports more than 2 billion search queries and hosts 400 million tweets every day. The sheer digital “noise” the platform makes — imagine 9.6 million birds in some massive, Yggdrasil-esque tree chirping furiously at one another all day, every day — is outstanding. According to Alexa, Twitter.com is the 11th most-visited website in the world.
If Twitter’s place in the pantheon of social media platforms hasn’t put the company on your radar — pretty much any brand that interacts with the consumer market uses Twitter — then its budding monetization mechanism should. EMarketer predicts the service will generate $582.8 million in global ad revenue in 2013, nearly $1 billion in 2014, and $1.3 billion in 2015; this is up from $139.5 million in 2011 and $288.3 million in 2012.
Numbers like this have attracted IPO speculation.
While Twitter executives have previously denied interest in taking the company public, many observers think that the time will be right either at the end of 2013 or by the middle of 2014. The company is currently valued at about $10 billion according to Inc.com, and that position could improve quickly in the coming months as the mobile advertising environment sorts itself out and Twitter emerges a leading player.
Advertising giants like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) have done a lot of the heavy lifting necessary to pave the way for a healthy mobile advertising environment. There has been speculation that Twitter hired a huge number of ex-Google employees for its engineering department and that the company has tapped former Googler Richard Alfonsi to be vice president of global online sales.
Fueling the speculation was a recent report from USA Today that a job opening for a financial reporting manager at Twitter appeared overnight. This position is typically responsible for filing an S-1 document and managing IPO plans. And now, the New York Post reports that Twitter is holding unofficial meetings with banking officials about a possible IPO. As the Post notes, Twitter executives are hoping for a low-profile launch in order to avoid a mess similar to what Facebook experienced with its IPO.
But a quiet Twitter IPO seems comfortably out of the realm of reality. The company has too much star power not to make enormous waves with its debut on the exchanges. While it’s reasonable to hope to avoid the same sort of flop that Facebook experienced with its IPO — a mixture of technical errors and awkwardly executed hype — investors already have the social media company under the microscope.
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