If last week's highly-anticipated Facebook IPO was too much excitement, not to mention too many numbers packed into a dense, 197-page S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, breathe easy: it does not appear as if Twitter has any short-term plans to follow suit and become the last of the big three social networks to trade as a public company.
"Over time, I think that all the same factors that led to Google and Facebook going public will eventually lead [Twitter] to do the same," Bill Gurley, a partner with Twitter investor Benchmark Capital told CNBC on Friday. For now, however, Twitter has no plans for an IPO and is focused on building out its advertising platform, he said.
That of course hasn't stopped widespread speculation about a public offering by the microblogging service. The Web site www.twitteripo.com curates news articles related Twitter, giving top billing to any that mention of IPO rumors. And a surefire way to generate traffic for your story about a Twitter IPO is to guesstimate the date of such a filing in your headline (current consensus: Twitter will be the biggest IPO of 2013).
The problem, of course, is speculation is just that. A lot can happen between now and 2013, and while all signs point towards an IPO within the next two years, there are no givens. One of the biggest drivers will be the Facebook IPO: if Facebook fails to live up to the hype (as LinkedIn, Groupon and Zynga all failed to do in 2011), Twitter may rethink.
Meanwhile, changes in regulations that require companies to file certain information with the Securities and Exchange Commission once they hit 500 shareholders are being considered. Previously, the thinking has been if you have to change some information with the SEC, why not share it all and go public?
Another key factor is that Twitter doesn't really need the money that is the incentive for companies to file public offerings. The company is valued at about $8 billion on private exchanges and last year raised $800 million in funding which was, incidentally, more than most IPOs in 2011. As Liquidnet Holdings analyst Lou Kerner told Bloomberg News last month, a public filing doesn't solve any problems for Twitter, and the current strategy appears to be to continue to privately grow the company.
Officially, the company is staying mum on the subject of IPOs, only hinting that it will most likely go public - someday.
"I choose not to answer that question" CEO Dick Costolo said when asked point blank last week if Twitter would file an IPO.
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