The filing is the first step towards a listing that analysts estimate will value the company around $10bn (£6bn) and allow backers, who have ploughed in around $1.2bn, to get a return on their investments.
It is also expected to make the company’s three founders — Evan Williams, 41, Biz Stone, 39, and Jack Dorsey, 36 — hundreds of millions of dollars each.
Twitter’s flotation will be the most high-profile technology flotation since Facebook’s disastrous stock market debut in May last year.
On Wednesday, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg gave this advice to Twitter at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.
For a smooth IPO, he said: “You have to know everything about your company. You’ve got to stay focused on doing the right stuff.”
He cited Facebook’s strong growth in mobile as an example of the importance of identifying the right areas of focus for a company. Lack of mobile presence had weighed on the company’s shares but this changed in July when the company reported that 41pc of its total advertising revenue was derived from mobile.
Twitter recently announced plans to update its site and mobile apps to make it easier for users to carry out conversations on the site and share them with others outside of Twitter.
Twitter has also acquired a mobile advertising firm, marking its biggest acquisition to date and helping to plug some of the holes that could hinder its flotation. MoPub, a mobile advertising business, enables companies to buy ad space automatically.
It bought the company for a stake in Twitter valued at between $300m to $400m, according to reports.
“The news that Twitter has confidentially filed for an IPO will come as little surprise to most, as over the last twelve months there’s been a marked increase in Twitter’s focus on its paid advertising services, as well as an increasing focus on building relationships with key agencies and businesses,” said Jed Hallam, head of social strategy at media agency Mindshare UK.
“I’d expect to see a similar response from Twitter post-IPO that we saw from Facebook – a razor-sharp focus on building the platform into a financially viable business (which, given it has confidentially filed for an IPO, suggests current revenues are under $1billion).
“While there will be key challenges around data (as Twitter doesn’t have the same depth of data on its users that Facebook has), Twitter has been strategically aligning itself with television and traditional media over the last six months (including numerous acquisitions), and this should strengthen its position as it begins to focus on monetisation.”
Twitter, which launched in March 2006, has over 200 million active users worldwide, who generate over 500 million tweets daily. Sixty percent of its users worldwide are active on mobile, rising to 80pc among UK users
Since its launch, Twitter has become one of the ten most visited websites on the web, and has been described as “the SMS of the Internet”.
“Twitter has firmly established itself as a social tool that people love to use and that the press loves to reference – and more than 60pc of US marketers are now on Twitter as well. And Twitter works hard to serve those marketers: the company learned how to sell sponsored tweets without upsetting users, when critics weren’t sure it was possible, and it offers more useful marketing measurement tools than bigger competitors like Facebook,” said Forrester analyst Nate Elliott.
“But there’s still work to be done if Twitter wants to become a viable business. Marketers aren’t yet fully satisfied with the results they’re achieving on Twitter, and the company still has to improve its ad targeting and find additional ad formats to sell. If this move helps them grow the business faster and focus on those challenges that’ll be good news not just for Twitter but also for the marketers who use the site.”
Source: The Telegraph