Below is the section of Twitter’s IPO filing in which it describes the nature of its business and some top-line statistics about the company. You can annotate any paragraph by hovering over the text and clicking the bubble that appears to the right.
The photo above is by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid and used under a Creative Commons license.
This summary highlights selected information that is presented in greater detail elsewhere in this prospectus. This summary does not contain all of the information you should consider before investing in our common stock. You should read this entire prospectus carefully, including the sections titled “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus, before making an investment decision. Unless the context otherwise requires, the terms “Twitter,” “the company,” “we,” “us” and “our” in this prospectus refer to Twitter, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries.
Twitter is a global platform for public self-expression and conversation in real time. By developing a fundamentally new way for people to create, distribute and discover content, we have democratized content creation and distribution, enabling any voice to echo around the world instantly and unfiltered.
Our platform is unique in its simplicity: Tweets are limited to 140 characters of text. This constraint makes it easy for anyone to quickly create, distribute and discover content that is consistent across our platform and optimized for mobile devices. As a result, Tweets drive a high velocity of information exchange that makes Twitter uniquely “live.” We aim to become an indispensable daily companion to live human experiences.
People are at the heart of Twitter. We have already achieved significant global scale, and we continue to grow. We have more than 215 million monthly active users, or MAUs, and more than 100 million daily active users, spanning nearly every country. Our users include millions of people from around the world, as well as influential individuals and organizations, such as world leaders, government officials, celebrities, athletes, journalists, sports teams, media outlets and brands. Our users create approximately 500 million Tweets every day.
Twitter is a public, real-time platform where any user can create a Tweet and any user can follow other users. We do not impose restrictions on whom a user can follow, which greatly enhances the breadth and depth of available content and allows users to discover the content they care about most. Additionally, users can be followed by thousands or millions of other users without requiring a reciprocal relationship, enhancing the ability of our users to reach a broad audience. The public nature of our platform allows us and others to extend the reach of Twitter content beyond our properties. Media outlets distribute Tweets beyond our properties to complement their content by making it more timely, relevant and comprehensive. Tweets have appeared on over one million third-party websites, and in the second quarter of 2013 there were approximately 30 billion online impressions of Tweets off of our properties.
Twitter provides a compelling and efficient way for people to stay informed about their interests, discover what is happening in their world right now and interact directly with each other. We enable the timely creation and distribution of ideas and information among people and organizations at a local and global scale. Our platform allows users to browse through Tweets quickly and explore content more deeply through links, photos, media and other applications that can be attached to each Tweet. As a result, when events happen in the world, whether planned, like sporting events and television shows, or unplanned, like natural disasters and political revolutions, the digital experience of those events happens in real time on Twitter. People can communicate with each other during these events as they occur, creating powerful shared experiences.
We are inspired by how Twitter has been used around the world. President Obama used our platform to first declare victory publicly in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, with a Tweet that was viewed approximately 25 million times on our platform and widely distributed offline in print and broadcast media. A local resident in Abbottabad, Pakistan unknowingly reported the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound on Twitter hours before traditional media and news outlets began to report on the event. During the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, people came to Twitter to understand the extent of the disaster, find loved ones and follow the nuclear crisis that ensued. For individuals and organizations seeking timely distribution of content, Twitter moves beyond traditional broadcast mediums by assembling connected audiences. Twitter brings people together in shared experiences allowing them to discover and consume content and just as easily add their own voice in the moment.
Our platform partners and advertisers enhance the value we create for our users.
Millions of platform partners, which include publishers, media outlets and developers, have integrated with Twitter, adding value to our user experience by contributing content to our platform, broadly distributing content from our platform across their properties and using Twitter content and tools to enhance their websites and applications. Many of the world’s most trusted media outlets, including the BBC, CNN and Times of India, regularly use Twitter as a platform for content distribution.
Advertisers use our Promoted Products, the majority of which are pay-for-performance, to promote their brands, products and services, amplify their visibility and reach, and complement and extend the conversation around their advertising campaigns. We enable our advertisers to target an audience based on a variety of factors, including a user’s Interest Graph. The Interest Graph maps, among other things, interests based on users followed and actions taken on our platform, such as Tweets created and engagement with Tweets. We believe a user’s Interest Graph produces a clear and real-time signal of a user’s interests, greatly enhancing the relevance of the ads we can display for users and enhancing our targeting capabilities for advertiser
Although we do not generate revenue directly from users or platform partners, we benefit from network effects where more activity on Twitter results in the creation and distribution of more content, which attracts more users, platform partners and advertisers, resulting in a virtuous cycle of value creation.
Mobile has become the primary driver of our business. Our mobile products are critical to the value we create for our users, and they enable our users to create, distribute and discover content in the moment and on-the-go. The 140 character constraint of a Tweet emanates from our origins as an SMS-based messaging system, and we leverage this simplicity to develop products that seamlessly bridge our user experience across all devices. In the three months ended June 30, 2013, 75% of our average MAUs accessed Twitter from a mobile device, including mobile phones and tablets, and over 65% of our advertising revenue was generated from mobile devices. We expect that the proportion of active users on, and advertising revenue generated from, mobile devices, will continue to grow in the near term.
We have experienced rapid growth in our revenue in recent periods. From 2011 to 2012, revenue increased by 198% to $316.9 million, net loss decreased by 38% to $79.4 million and Adjusted EBITDA increased by 149% to $21.2 million. From the six months ended June 30, 2012 to the six months ended June 30, 2013, revenue increased by 107% to $253.6 million, net loss increased by 41% to $69.3 million and Adjusted EBITDA increased by $20.7 million to $21.4 million. For information on how we define and calculate Adjusted EBITDA, and a reconciliation of net loss to Adjusted EBITDA, see the section titled “—Summary Consolidated Financial and Other Data—Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”
We have also experienced significant growth in our user base, as measured by MAUs, and user engagement, as measured by timeline views.
For information on how we define and calculate the number of MAUs and the number of timeline views and factors that can affect these metrics, see the sections titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Key Metrics” and “Industry Data and Company Metrics.”
The Evolution of Content Creation, Distribution and Discovery
The Internet and digitization have allowed for virtually all content to be made available online, but the vast array of content has made it difficult for people to find what is important or relevant to them. Over time, technologies have been developed to address this challenge:
In the early to mid-1990s, browsers, including Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer, presented content on the Internet in a visually appealing manner and allowed people to navigate to specific websites, but the content experience was generally not personalized or tailored to a person’s interests and information was often difficult to find.
In the mid to late-1990s, Yahoo!, AOL, MSN and other web portals aggregated and categorized popular content and other communication features to help people discover relevant information on the Internet. These portals, while convenient, and with some ability to personalize, offer access to a limited amount of content.
In the early-2000s, Google and other search engines began providing a way to search a vast amount of content, but search results are limited by the quality of the search algorithm and the amount of content in the search index. In addition, given the lag between live events and the creation and indexing of digital content, search engine results may lack real-time information. Also, search engines generally do not surface content that a person has not requested, but may find interesting.
In the mid-2000s, social networks, such as Facebook, emerged as a new way to connect with friends and family online, but they are generally closed, private networks that do not include content from outside a person’s friends, family and mutual connections. Consequently, the depth and breadth of content available to people is generally limited. Additionally, content from most social networks is not broadly available off their networks, such as on other websites, applications or traditional media outlets like television, radio and print.
Twitter Continues the Evolution
Twitter continues the evolution of content creation, distribution and discovery by combining the following four elements at scale to create a global platform for public self-expression and conversation in real time. We believe Twitter can be the content creation, distribution and discovery platform for the Internet and evolving mobile ecosystem.
Twitter is open to the world. Content on Twitter is broadly accessible to our users and unregistered visitors. All users can create Tweets and follow other users. In addition, because the public nature of Twitter allows content to travel virally on and off our properties to other websites and media, such as television and print, people can benefit from Twitter content even if they are not Twitter users or following the user that originally tweeted.
News breaks on Twitter. The combination of our tools, technology and format enables our users to quickly create and distribute content globally in real time with 140 keystrokes or the flash of a photo, and the click of a button. The ease with which our users can create content combined with our broad reach results in users often receiving content faster than other forms of media.
Twitter is where users come to express themselves and interact with the world. Our users can interact on Twitter directly with other users, including people from around the world, as well as influential individuals and organizations. Importantly, these interactions can occur in public view, thereby creating an opportunity for all users to follow and participate in conversations on Twitter.
Tweets go everywhere. The simple format of a Tweet, the public nature of content on Twitter and the ease of distribution off our properties allow media outlets to display Tweets on their online and offline properties, thereby extending the reach of Tweets beyond our properties. A 2013 study conducted by Arbitron Inc. and Edison Research found that 44% of Americans hear about Tweets through media channels other than Twitter almost every day.
Our Value Proposition to Users
People are at the heart of Twitter. We have more than 215 million MAUs from around the world. People come to Twitter for many reasons, and we believe that two of the most significant are the breadth of Twitter content and our broad reach. Our users consume content and engage in conversations that interest them by discovering and following the people and organizations they find most compelling.
Our platform provides our users with the following benefits:
Sharing Content with the World
Users leverage our platform to express themselves publicly to the world, share with their friends and family and participate in conversations. The public, real-time nature and tremendous global reach of our platform make it the content distribution platform of choice for many of the world’s most influential individuals and organizations, as well as millions of people and small businesses.
Discovering Unique and Relevant Content
Twitter’s over 215 million MAUs, spanning nearly every country, provide great breadth and depth of content across a broad range of topics, including literature, politics, finance, music, movies, comedy, sports and news.
Breaking News and Engaging in Live Events
Users come to Twitter to discover what is happening in the world right now directly from other Twitter users. On Twitter, users tweet about live events instantly, whether it is celebrities tweeting to their fans, journalists breaking news or people providing eyewitness accounts of events as they unfold. Many individuals and organizations choose to break news first on Twitter because of the unique reach and speed of distribution on our platform. As a result, Twitter is a primary source of information and complements traditional media as a second screen, enhancing the overall experience of an event by allowing users to share the experience with other users in real time. We believe this makes Twitter the social soundtrack to life in the moment.
Participating in Conversations
Through Twitter, users not only communicate with friends and family, but they also participate in conversations with other people from around the world, in ways that would not otherwise be possible. In addition to participating in conversations, users can simply follow conversations on Twitter or express interest in the conversation by retweeting or favoriting.
Our Value Proposition to Platform Partners
The value we create for our users is enhanced by our platform partners, which include publishers, media outlets and developers. These platform partners have integrated with Twitter through an application programming interface, or API, that we provide which allows them to contribute their content to our platform, distribute Twitter content across their properties and use Twitter content and tools to enhance their websites and applications. We provide a set of development tools, APIs and embeddable widgets that allow our partners to seamlessly integrate with our platform.
We provide our platform partners with the following benefits:
Platform partners use Twitter as a complementary distribution channel to expand their reach and engage with their audiences. Publishers and media outlets contribute content created for other media channels to Twitter and tweet content specifically created for Twitter. We provide platform partners with a set of widgets that they can embed on their websites and an API for their mobile applications to enable Twitter users to tweet content directly from those properties. As our users engage with this content on Twitter, they can be directed back to our partners’ websites and applications.
Complementary Real-Time and Relevant Content
Twitter enables platform partners to embed or display relevant Tweets on their online and offline properties to enhance the experience for their users. Additionally, by enhancing the activity related to their programming or event on Twitter, media outlets can drive tune-in and awareness of their original content, leveraging Twitter’s strength as a second screen for television programming. For example, during Super Bowl XLVII, over 24 million Tweets regarding the Super Bowl were sent during the game alone and 45% of television ads shown during the Super Bowl used a hashtag to invite viewers to engage in conversation about those television ads on Twitter.
Canvas for Enhanced Content with Twitter Cards
Platform partners use Twitter Cards to embed images, video and interactive content directly into a Tweet. Twitter Cards allow platform partners to create richer content that all users can interact with and distribute.
Building with Twitter Content
Platform partners leverage Tweets to enhance the experience for their users. Developers incorporate Twitter content and use Twitter tools to build a broad range of applications. Media partners incorporate Twitter content to enrich their programming and increase viewer engagement by providing real-time Tweets that express public opinion and incorporate results from viewer polls on Twitter.
Our Value Proposition to Advertisers
We provide compelling value to our advertisers by delivering the ability to reach a large global audience through our unique set of advertising services, the ability to target ads based on our deep understanding of our users and the opportunity to generate significant earned media. Advertisers can use Twitter to communicate directly with their followers for free, but many choose to purchase our advertising services to reach a broader audience and further promote their brands, products and services.
Our platform provides our advertisers with the following benefits:
Unique Ad Formats Native to the User Experience
Our Promoted Products, which are Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends, provide advertisers with an opportunity to reach our users without disrupting or detracting from the user experience on our platform.
Our pay-for-performance Promoted Products enable advertisers to reach users based on many factors. Importantly, because our asymmetric follow model does not require mutual follower relationships, people can follow the users that they find most interesting. These follow relationships are then combined with other factors, such as the actions that users take on our platform, including the Tweets they engage with and what they tweet about, to form a user’s Interest Graph. We believe a user’s Interest Graph produces a clear and real-time signal of a user’s interests, greatly enhancing our targeting capability.
Earned Media and Viral Global Reach
The public and widely distributed nature of our platform enables Tweets to spread virally, potentially reaching all of our users and people around the world. Our users retweet, reply to or start conversations about interesting Tweets, whether those Tweets are Promoted Tweets or organic Tweets by advertisers. An advertiser only gets charged when a user engages with a Promoted Tweet that was placed in a user’s timeline because of its promotion. By creating highly compelling and engaging ads, our advertisers can benefit from users retweeting their content across our platform at no incremental cost.
Advertising in the Moment
Twitter’s real-time nature allows our advertisers to capitalize on live events, existing conversations and trending topics. By using our Promoted Products, advertisers can create a relevant ad in real time that is shaped by these events, conversations and topics.
Pay-for-Performance and Attractive Return on Investment
Our advertisers pay for Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts on a pay-for-performance basis. Our advertisers only pay us when a user engages with their ad, such as when a user clicks on a link in a Promoted Tweet, expands a Promoted Tweet, replies to or favorites a Promoted Tweet, retweets a Promoted Tweet for the first time, follows a Promoted Account or follows the account that tweets a Promoted Tweet. The pay-for-performance structure aligns our interests in delivering relevant and engaging ads to our users with those of our advertisers.
Extension of Offline Advertising Campaigns
Twitter advertising complements offline advertising campaigns, such as television ads. Integrating hashtags allows advertisers to extend the reach of an offline ad by driving significant earned media and continued conversation on Twitter.
Our Value Proposition to Data Partners
We offer data licenses that allow our data partners to access, search and analyze historical and real-time data on our platform. Since the first Tweet, our users have created over 300 billion Tweets spanning nearly every country. Our data partners use this data to generate and monetize data analytics, from which data partners can identify user sentiment, influence and other trends. For example, one of our data partners applies its algorithms to Twitter data to create and sell products to its customers that identify activity trends across Twitter which may be relevant to its customers’ investment portfolios.
We have aligned our growth strategy around the three primary constituents of our platform: users, platform partners and advertisers.
We believe that there is a significant opportunity to expand our user base. Industry sources estimate that as of 2012 there were 2.4 billion Internet users and 1.2 billion smartphone users, of which only 215 million are MAUs of Twitter.
Geographic Expansion—We plan to develop a broad set of partnerships globally to increase relevant local content on our platform and make Twitter more accessible in new and emerging markets.
Mobile Applications—We plan to continue to develop and improve our mobile applications to drive user adoption of these applications.
Product Development—We plan to continue to build and acquire new technologies to develop and improve our products and services and make our platform more valuable and accessible to people around the world. We also plan to continue to focus on making Twitter simple and easy to use, particularly for new users.
We believe growth in our platform partners is complementary to our user growth strategy and the overall expansion of our platform.
Expand the Twitter Platform to Integrate More Conten—We plan to continue to build and acquire new technologies to enable our platform partners to distribute content of all forms.
Partner with Traditional Media—We plan to continue to leverage our media relationships to drive more content distribution on our platform and create more value for our users and advertisers.
We believe we can increase the value of our platform for our advertisers by enhancing our advertising services and making our platform more accessible.
Targeting—We plan to continue to improve the targeting capabilities of our advertising services.
Opening our Platform to Additional Advertisers—We believe that advertisers outside of the United States represent a substantial opportunity and we plan to invest to increase our advertising revenue from international advertisers, including by launching our self-serve advertising platform in selected international markets.
New Advertising Formats—We intend to develop new and unique ad formats for our advertisers. For example, we recently introduced our lead generation and application download Twitter Cards and Twitter Amplify, which allows advertisers to embed ads into real-time video content.
Risks Associated with Our Business
Our business is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including those highlighted in the section titled “Risk Factors” immediately following this prospectus summary. These risks include, but are not limited to, the following:
–If we fail to grow our user base, or if user engagement or the number of paid engagements with our pay-for-performance Promoted Products, which we refer to as ad engagements, on our platform decline, our revenue, business and operating results may be harmed;
–If our users do not continue to contribute content or their contributions are not valuable to other users, we may experience a decline in the number of users accessing our products and services, which could result in the loss of advertisers and revenue;
–We generate the substantial majority of our revenue from advertising, and the loss of advertising revenue could harm our business;
–If we are unable to compete effectively for users and advertiser spend, our business and operating results could be harmed;
–Our operating results may fluctuate from quarter to quarter, which makes them difficult to predict;
–User growth and engagement depend upon effective interoperation with operating systems, networks, devices, web browsers and standards that we do not control;
–If we fail to expand effectively in international markets, our revenue and our business will be harmed;
–We anticipate that we will expend substantial funds in connection with the tax liabilities that arise upon the initial settlement of restricted stock units, or RSUs, in connection with this offering, and the manner in which we fund that expenditure may have an adverse effect on our financial condition; and
–Existing executive officers, directors and holders of 5% or more of our common stock will collectively beneficially own _____% of our common stock and continue to have substantial control over us after this offering, which will limit your ability to influence the outcome of important transactions, including a change in control.
Channels for Disclosure of Information
Investors, the media and others should note that, following the completion of this offering, we intend to announce material information to the public through filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, our corporate blog at blog.twitter.com, the investor relations page on our website, press releases, public conference calls and webcasts. We also intend to announce information regarding us and our business, operating results, financial condition and other matters through Tweets on the following Twitter accounts:_____, _____ and _____.
The information that is tweeted by the foregoing Twitter accounts could be deemed to be material information. As such, we encourage investors, the media and others to follow the Twitter accounts listed above and to review the information tweeted by such accounts.
Any updates to the list of Twitter accounts through which we will announce information will be posted on the investor relations page on our website.
Twitter, Inc. was incorporated in Delaware in April 2007. Our principal executive offices are located at 1355 Market Street, Suite 900, San Francisco, California 94103, and our telephone number is (415) 222-9670. Our website address is http://www.twitter.com. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website does not constitute part of this prospectus and inclusions of our website address in this prospectus are inactive textual references only.
“Twitter,” the Twitter bird logo, “Tweet,” “Retweet” and our other registered or common law trademarks, service marks or trade names appearing in this prospectus are the property of Twitter, Inc. Other trademarks and trade names referred to in this prospectus are the property of their respective owners.