There is starting to be increasing amounts of speculation that Twitter could be gearing up for its an IPO next year. We all remember witnessing the recent debacle surrounding the Facebook (FB) IPO, so you would think other social media companies might put off going public until the market improves or fewer investors remember getting burned by the hype machine that drove FB to debut above $30. What makes Twitter this it will do any better?
There is no questioning Twitter’s impressive growth. People like the short format of Twitter, plus the instant access to celebrities, and its popularity today is greater than ever.
While Facebook has struggled to impress Wall Street with its ability to grow mobile ad revenues, Twitter has been putting up big numbers. Though most analysts agree that revenue of $1 billion in 2014 is within reach, some predicting that the company will generate in excess of $1 billion in ad sales in 2013. This would be a major accomplishment considering that Techcrunch reports that the company had around $350 million in total revenue in 2012, with mobile ads representing around half of that total revenue.
So what makes Twitter different from Facebook?
The main difference is that Twitter was conceived to be a mobile application, unlike Facebook which started off as a website and is now trying to move into mobile. Twitter ads are smaller than Facebook's and easier to squeeze into a mobile device's screen. The more Facebook incorporates ads into their mobile app, the more users will shy away from the service, but this is probably not the case for Twitter.
Another clue that Twitter could be getting ready to go public is the recent changes it has made to top management positions. Last week it moved its CFO over to COO, and gave the CFO job to a Mike Gupta, former treasurer and recent hire from Zynga (ZNGA). In addition to revamping management, Mike Issac from AllThingsDigital reported that he learned the company had poached hundreds of employees from Google’s engineering department to work at Twitter.
The company obviously has big plans and it would seem as though an IPO may not be as far down the road as some would believe.
There are other directions the company could take, such as looking for a suitor such as Apple (AAPL) to sweep in and buy the company out, but such a move is pure speculation at this point.
Should Twitter go public next year? Probably not, it should continue to focus on growing its mobile ad revenue to make sure that it does not fall into the same pit that Facebook is currently trying to crawl out. But could it? Yes, it is strong enough, and if revenue projections turn out to be accurate they would be strong enough to warrant a public offering.
While I think Twitter should sit out 2013 and plan for a 2014 IPO, I believe the company act sooner and make its move next year. Expect to see the Twitter start its IPO roadshow sometime in the middle of the coming year.
Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va. His articles typically cover big-picture events and forecasting what impact they will have on the stock market. Follow Michael on Twitter @MFatMICenter.