Twitter's Initial Public Offering (IPO) is just weeks away, and the firm wants $1bn to expand its business. It's an exciting time for watchers of social media, and it will also mark the end of any sort of privacy given to Twitter and its business practices. There is now nowhere to hide.
We've ploughed through the 200-plus page filing to discover the most interesting tidbits of information and see what it tells us about Twitter as a firm, and its future plans.
Twitter users pump out an astonishing 500 million tweets per day, adding to a pile of 140-character musings which now stands at a cool 300 billion.
Users refreshed their timelines in excess of 287.2 billion times in the first six months of 2013, a 79 percent increase when compared to the same period in 2012. In the second quarter of 2013, Twitter's 218 million monthly active users refreshed their timelines 691 times each, and this does not include some mobile apps and its TweetDeck platform.
An IPO generally signifies growth which can no longer be handled simply by private equity investors. Twitter now employs 2,000 people in offices in 15 cities around the world. It's taken on 1,800 employees since January 2010 and if it achieves the $1bn IPO it's looking for we can expect Twitter to expand a lot further.
In its SEC filing, Twitter acknowledged that while it plans to hire more people for its engineering, product management and design teams, it faces intense competition to get people with the right skills into those roles. The firm concluded that it "may not be able to hire new employees quickly enough to meet our needs". It should be noted here that Twitter is obliged to write about worst-case scenarios in its filing but it is nonetheless interesting that the competition for talent, even for a company with as strong a brand as Twitter, is so fierce.
Twitter's user numbers are very interesting. With 218 million monthly active users and 100 million daily active users, this pales in comparison to Facebook. Of the 218 million, 75 percent access the service using a mobile phone or tablet.
It's a very strong set of numbers for the company, and because only a third of Twitter's users are US residents, it means there is a lot of potential for growth at home as well as abroad, which will be a boon for western advertisers and investors alike.
Aside from competition for staff, Twitter's SEC filing contains an exhaustive list of everything which could possibly go wrong. From an analysis standpoint, it's interesting to see which are true problems and which are there "just in case". For example, Twitter apparently sees a great deal of value in search engines, and specifically highlights potential problems surrounding Google promoting its own social network Google+ in search results and demoting Twitter.
Elsewhere, the company acknowledges spam as a problem. Five percent of all monthly active user accounts are spammers, according to the SEC document, although they were naturally not counted in the headline 218 million account figure. That's still well over 10 million false accounts, however.
Finally, Twitter also understands the risks it faces overseas, with censorship rife in countries such as China and with access to Twitter having been restricted in countries including Iran, Libya, Pakistan and Syria.
"In the event that access to our products and services is restricted, in whole or in part, in one or more countries or our competitors are able to successfully penetrate geographic markets that we cannot access, our ability to retain or increase our user base and user engagement may be adversely affected, and our operating results may be harmed," the filing said.
Twitter's finances aren't massively positive at first glance, but you have to remember the firm is only seven years old, and has only really been generating revenue for a small part of that time. It lost $69.3m in the last quarter, a 41 percent rise; but its revenue grew even more, up to $253.6m, 107 percent up on the previous quarter.
So long as investors can see that eventually Twitter will make returns on their investments, they'll happily pour money in. For reference, Amazon didn't make a profit until the last quarter of 2001 - a full six years after its website went online - but kept on attracting investors because the money was being spent on extremely long-term technical and logistical improvements which made the firm one of the most powerful retailers in the world.
Aside from the bottom line, Twitter makes the vast majority of its income from advertising, with 65 percent of ad revenue generated by mobile devices, a very strong place to stand as mobile devices increasingly become the primary port of call for media consumers.
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