The pithiest media service had a big day Thursday that is hard to convey in 140 characters. After years of hinting and planning, Twitter debuted on Wall Street.
The IPO price for institutional investors of TWTR had been $26, the opening price $45.10 and the closing price on the first day was $44.90. There are 70 million shares available on the New York Stock Exchange.
CEO Dick Costolo told CNBC that his is a "long-term company," in that there is "a fantastic use case for every person on the planet."
The 6-year-old company presented that user-oriented profile in its choice of who would ring the market's opening bell at 9:30 a.m. EST. Instead of Twitter's founders or current executive leadership, the honor was performed by three very different users: actor Patrick Stewart, a 9-year-old named Vivienne Harr who has used the service to promote a lemonade stand that raised money and awareness against child slavery, and a Boston police officer.
After a tumultuous founding which was recently chronicled in a New York Times Magazine article, among other places, the company is now raking in revenue from Promoted Tweets and other advertiser-oriented features that are designed to target its 232 million users.
In 2012, Twitter's good news was that its revenue hit $317 million, but it still lost $80 million. In 2013, revenue has grown to $422 million, while losses stand at $134 million. Twitter has said that its key goals are to sharpen the definition of its brand, become profitable and build up its revenue through new ad opportunities, mobile devices and international sales. The company has not yet said when it expects to actually make a profit, although some Twitter-watchers have predicted it will not be until at least 2015.
'Pulse of the Planet'
But profit isn't everything on Wall Street. Facebook had an annual profit of $1 billion before it launched its initial public offering in May of last year, but that company's public launch is now considered a failure because of an overstated initial price and delays in trading. At the end of the first day of trading, Facebook's price per share was only 23 cents higher than its IPO, although it now stands nearly 30 percent higher.
Setting the IPO price in accordance with market expectations is an art. Scott Cutler, executive vice president at the New York Stock Exchange, told news media that officials had taken a while to establish Twitter's initial price in order to avoid gyrations.
The company has assumed a major role in the culture, not far from what Costolo has described as "the pulse of the planet." Major news and cultural events ricochet through its short messages, which have now been expanded to include images and "cards," and the service is commonly used by protest groups, corporations and individuals alike to quickly burst messages on the world and daily life.