Microblogging service Twitter is going IPO. The social networking site, which has more than 200 million members, has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to make its debut on the public markets with an initial public offering. Some are calling it the most anticipated IPO since Facebook, but others still wonder if the timing is right.
"We've confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO," Twitter tweeted. "This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale."
Not surprisingly, the message went viral, getting retweeted more than 13,000 times even as analysts start to dissect what this means for Twitter and other social media networks.
What's Twitter Worth?
We asked Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, for his reaction to Twitter going IPO. For starters, the way Twitter filed is telling.
Under the JOBS Act the microblogging service is permitted to confidentially file its S-1 if gross revenues are less than $1 billion. Twitter's revenues have been estimated to be roughly $600 million in 2013. And, Sterling noted, apparently the company was profitable in the fourth quarter of last year, although it may no longer be because of recent acquisitions.
"Given Facebook's recovery and the story that Twitter can tell the marketplace, I suspect demand for Twitter's offering will be heavy. It will likely seek considerably more than the $1 billion in VC funds that have been invested in the company over the past six years," Sterling said.
"Twitter's shares have been bought and sold on the private market for some time with the current value of the company being somewhere north of $9 or so billion," he said. "The IPO should push Twitter's market cap up well beyond that."
Learning from Facebook
Twitter is now seven years old and has been in the red for most of its existence. Is now the time to go public?
"It's maybe a little earlier than some people suspected. A lot of people suspected first quarter of next year," Carter Mack, president of JMP Group Inc., a San Francisco investment banking and asset management firm, told the Wall Street Journal. "It's been a terrific IPO market for technology-related companies this year."
That said, Facebook felt the pressuring of going IPO before, during and after the process and had some very high profile struggles with early earnings reports. Can Dick Costolo, Twitter's CEO, who has led the company for the past three years, handle what comes next?
"Twitter is ready. Investors are ready. The fact we're having this discussion is testament to the tweet that validates the platform as a credible new medium," said Marcus Nelson, CEO and founder of Addvocate, which helps companies humanize their brand experiences by enabling all employees to engage with customers.
"Furthermore, Facebook's recent market accomplishments ushers the way for a successful Twitter IPO," he said. "Twitter can learn from Facebook and set the pace for another crop of successful tech IPOs."