Twitter’s revenue heads into international waters

Talk of Twitter’s revenue sources has dominated the web over the past week, and Twitter kicked off more chatter today with two strategic hires.

Shailesh Rao will serve as Twitter’s vice president of international revenue starting in April, and Stephen McIntyre will work on international expansion of Twitter’s brand-new self-serve ad platform. Both new hires are former Googlers.

On its current trajectory, Twitter’s revenue isn’t slated to surpass $1 billion until 2016; however, going global might help to accelerate the startup’s financial growth.

“2012 will be a pivotal year for Twitter and our advertising business,” said a Twitter global revenue president Adam Bain in a statement to VentureBeat this morning. “These hires are key to bringing our Promoted Products to more markets around the world and helping businesses everywhere get value from advertising on Twitter. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Rao, who is based in India, most recently worked as Google’s vice president of media, mobile, and platforms for Asia Pacific. Before that, he was the managing director of Google India; and prior to that, as the director of local search, he received the company’s Founder’s Award for the launch of Google Maps and Google Earth across Western Europe and parts of Asia and Latin America.

McIntyre, meanwhile, was one of Google’s key figures for sales in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He led a sales team of hundreds for that entire region, selling some of Google’s newest ad products, including Google+ advertising.

With 70 percent of its userbase outside the United States, Twitter has made a wise choice in snapping up these two experienced international rainmakers. With any luck (and with a lot of growth in its user stats), Twitter may catch up to advertising powerhouses like Facebook a little bit sooner than we had previously anticipated.

Still, these erstwhile Googlers have their work cut out for them. Because Twitter’s Promoted suite of ad products doesn’t fit conventional ad formats, those products can be a harder sell for some media buyers at big brands and agencies.

“Those [products] don’t fall into the neat buckets that advertisers are used to,” eMarketer analyst Debra Williamson told VentureBeat yesterday. “You have to actually think about a campaign, you can’t just buy a bunch of ads.”

Still, mass audiences and global audiences are hugely important to the kinds of global brands that account for a large chunk of Twitter’s revenue right now. Having better ways to reach that audience and sell to those brands is definitely in Twitter’s favor.


VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Chime in, and we’ll share the data.