Twitter IPO: what the papers say

Twitter's IPO papers reveal many interesting facts - including just how money it has lost.

It is now official. Twitter hopes to raise $1billion in its initial public offering (IPO).

In filing for the IPO, Twitter has provided a certain amount of information about its business.  The documents reveal:


  • Revenue generated in 2012 =  $316.9 million
  • Revenue generated in first six months of 2013  = $253.6 million
  • Losses made in 2012 = (nearly) $80 million in 2012
  • Net loss made in first six months of 2013 = $69 million
  • Total losses since Twitter launched = $419 million
  • International revenue in 2012 = $53 million
  • International revenue in first six months of 2013 = £53million
  • Percentage of advertising revenue generated from mobile devices = 65%


  • Number of monthly active users = 215 million
  • Number of daily active users = 100 million
  • Number of tweets per day = 500 million
  • Percentage of users accessing Twitter via a mobile device = 75%
  • Total number of Tweets since launch = 300 billion


  • Failure to grow user base
  • Decline in user engagement
  • Decline in advertisement engagement – particularly if users feel adverts are too prominent or not relevant
  • Increase in spam
  • The innovators patent agreements which may mean Twitter loses the ability to sell or license patents
  • New competitive products or services
  • Influential users moving to new products or services
  • Users act on privacy/security concerns and leave service
  • Content shared loses its value
  • Unresolved technical issues
  • Company fails to innovate

What 'the papers' say about the papers

The IPO papers are not just screens of figures and analysis.  Sam Laird, writing on Mashable, highlights how the papers include case studies showing the impact the tool is having on real-time reporting, political and brand engagement  and information sharing during moments of crisis.

Derrick Harris (Gigaom) is interested in what the papers reveal about Twitter’s expenditure on technology and people, especially in just how much it costs to develop new products and services and to maintain existing ones:

  • Anticipated capital expenditures in 2013 = $225-275 million
    • The papers do not give an exact amount but state 'a portion' will be used to finance office and data centre expansion
  • Cost of revenue is 'primarily' data centre costs; support, maintenance and bandwith costs; and personnel costs
  • Cost of R&D – including salaries – has totalled $112 million in the first six months of 2013 - this is the equivalent of 44% of total revenue

Can Twitter make money?

Other commentators are focusing on the money.  Chris Taylor (also writing for Mashable) looks at the increasing revenue and costs shown in the first six months figures for 2013.  Revenues revealed in the papers may be 'llower than people had previously assumed. Meanwhile Twitter has been on a spending spree (Bluefin; Crashlytics; MoPub;Trendrr).  In the papers Twitter states that, if a choice were to be made between investors and users, their decision making will be informed by user needs.

The BBC also analyses how Twitter can – and could – make money, including advertising and data licensing. For those with access to BBC World Service, this programme features an interesting discussion on the Twitter IPO.