Emerging Technology

Will it float? Twitter’s prospectus shows signs of growth

Stilgherrian /

The day has come. The media’s love-it hate-it fear-it embrace-it social messaging service Twitter is floating.

The prospectus is online. And, actually, the numbers look better than I’d expected.

The graphs that go up and to the right that populate every IPO pitch do, indeed, go up and to the right, showing relatively little sign of the flattening-out to a plateau in usage that various analysts have been alleging has been happening to Facebook and some other key social media services off and on for the last three years. Interesting.

Also interesting are the numbers behind those charts. “We have more than 215 million monthly active users, or MAUs, and more than 100 million daily active users, spanning nearly every country,” Twitter reported?—?that’s up 44% on last year?—?and the ratio between those two figures points to one of the service’s strengths. Twitter is primarily a real-time medium. As the IPO notes:

“Tweets drive a high velocity of information exchange that makes Twitter uniquely ‘live’ We aim to become an indispensable daily companion to live human experiences.”

Twitter claims that 75% of its monthly users are using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. As Crikey reported last month, Twitter recently bought MoPub, a mobile advertising exchange start-up, for US$350 million in stock??—?a strategic move that seems to have earned the nod of Silicon Valley cognoscenti. While some 65% of Twitter’s advertising revenue currently comes from mobile devices, there’s clearly potential for further growth here?—?particular with the development of more mobile, real-time advertising.

Real-time adverts are relatively new. Twitter includes some examples in the IPO:

“When the power at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans went out during the 2013 Super Bowl, the creative team at Oreo (@Oreo) was quick to tweet about the situation to engage users during the live event.”

The seems to be quite a buzz about the potential for this sort of thing, though so far in Australia it seems confined to the social marketing experts rather than the brands. As Courtney Lambert, CEO of Gehazi, blogged this morning.

“Twitter has a real opportunity to revolutionise real-time brand communications if it can build products that make sense to client-side marketers. Ad agencies in Australia and New Zealand are still testing Facebook paid products, and Twitter paid is a hard sell for larger client media plans because their marketing teams aren’t resourced and structured properly to manage true real-time.”

Twitter’s IPO will give it cash that might well pay for the kind of education that’ll being advertisers on board.

Twitter would also have good growth potential in non-English speaking markets?—?and especially developing nations, where the short-message mobile-device format is a natural extension of their already-heavy usage of SMS.

Twitter’s revenues are currently $316.9 million, but with around 2000 full-time employees, they have yet to turn a profit. As of June 30, the company’s deficit was $418.6 million. Twitter is after a $1 billion investment, and reckons its share price was $20.62 as of 5 August.

As Crikey’s deadline approached this morning, social network stocks Facebook and LinkedIn were down between 2% and 2.5%, tracking lower than both the NASDAQ and the Dow Jones, which were down around 1% from where they opened today.

This article first appeared on Crikey.

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