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No Fail Whale: Twitter's IPO and Future
Posted on September 17th 2013
Now that Twitter has let its own cat out of the bag with its now-infamous "confidential" tweet, the debate and speculation start.
We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.— Twitter (@twitter) September 12, 2013
Following Facebook's IPO debacle and the time it has taken for them to catch back up valuation-wise, many are scrutinizing the details of the Twitter deal to make sure that the same mistakes don't happen.
Facebook was not entirely to blame, of course, but they also didn't help themselves as much as they could have, where Twitter seems to be getting ahead of the ball already. They've limited the amount of private shares being traded and the number of shareholders, an issue that wound up being a big part of Facebook's problems. They're also being valued between $10 and 13 billion, which is a steal when it comes to comparisons like Google or Facebook.
Sure, Twitter is a tighter niche than those two, but it still has a lot of room for potential as it moves into the more commercial realms with future shareholders to answer to. There is a difference between Twitter and Facebook that is fairly clear. Although they are both "social" sites, Twitter is very much the go-to platform for things like politics and breaking news, and has become an effective tool in giving a voice to the oppressed around the world. Facebook has news and politics and causes as well, but it's more like Good Morning America compared to Twitter's Nightly News.
One of the most obvious plays for Twitter in generating new revenue apart from advertising is in ticket and digital goods sales, which would be a natural fit. One component of Twitter's DNA which gives it such potential growth opportunities versus Facebook is mobile. Twitter was built for mobile from the beginning, and it's easy for them to achieve ubiquity on the web based on that and on their text-based minimalist platform. Facebook has taken the opposite journey from desktop to mobile, and their mobile successes to date have been limited.
The exception to that is mobile advertising, in which Facebook saw a dramatic increase over the last year. Twitter is a digital marketing behemoth. It holds the position for the greatest marketing revenue increase potential of any of the social sites. We stomache ads a lot better in less than 140 characters. My friend recently got licensed to sell insurance, and one of the first things his mentor told him was to get a Twitter account set up if he didn't already have one. Anecdotal, yes. Also a real example.
Facebook has shown that businesses are willing to spend big money on mobile advertising, and Twitter is about to become the beneficiary of that success. You may even start to see some money backed by big marketing moved out of FB and into TWIT (ticker symbol?) As a small business, a Twitter account should be a non-negotiable tool, just like a Facebook page. If you are just getting used to a Facebook strategy and this gets you feeling overwhelmed, a good piece of social media management software will make your life lot easier.
Since desktop computing is on the decline in the big picture, and we are ever evolving into a more digitally mobile society, Twitter should have a very bright future. They've played their cards well up to this point as a company, and as long as that trend doesn't reverse it's all blue skies and songbirds ahead.