Twitter filed for an initial public offering today in what will likely be the stock market debut since Facebook’s $16 billion IPO in May 2012. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t been quick.
Here’s a quick overview of the company’s journey:
- Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Florian Weber, and other employees of podcasting company Odeo come up with a plan for a short message service.
- Twitter is born as Dorsey and others create Obvious Corp and buy out Odeo.
2007: SXSW conference
- Twitter places two big-screen TVs that conference-goers can see and streams tweets to them.
- The tiny service’s tweets-per-day stats jump from 20,000 to 60,000.
- Every year after, until at least 2012, startups have gone to SXSW to try to experience their own breakout moment.
2008: Fail whale
- Early adopters of Twitter learn to love, hate, and love the #FailWhale as the site frequently goes down.
- But Twitter grows a massive 750 percent in 2008.
- Current CEO Dick Costolo joins Twitter from Feedburner.
- COO Dick Costolo says that advertising is coming soon and revenue is the name of the game.
- The Iranian “cyberarmy” causes some of the first fail whales.
- The micro-blogging service is profitable, say some.
2010: Twitter starts to get big
- Twitter users start tweeting 65 million tweets every day, and Twitter moves from what-is-that-thing status to a social media company that could legitimately be mentioned in the same breath as Facebook.
- Twitter hits 140 employees, ironically.
- Twitter celebrates 100,000 Twitter apps, something it will not be quite as happy about later.
- CEO Evan Williams, who will later leave, says “openness” to third-party developers is a survival strategy. Not for him, apparently.
- Google enables search of all your tweets … before Twitter.
- Twitter launches an Android app.
- Twitter chops third-party ad tools from user timelines.
- Twitter finally launches a new official Tweet button for the web and then briefly brings big chunks of the web to its knees.
2011: Twitter takes center stage in moment-by-moment news
- Osama bin Laden’s death travels through the Twittersphere like a sine wave.
- Inevitably, the Taliban get a Twitter account.
- Restrictions? For third-party apps? Say it ain’t so, Twitter.
- Obama is the new-age presidential candidate on Twitter: My tweets are my own.
- Twitter starts owning the news beat: Twitter for Newsrooms.
- 200 million daily tweets.
- Twitter valued as high as $7 billion. (That’s pretty cool, right Sean Parker?)
- But $8 billion is even cooler.
- Promoted tweets: All that money has to come from somewhere, you know.
- Ads on Twitter? What ads? Those ads at the top of your tweet stream.
- Third-party app Topify dies in Twitter API snafu.
- London rioters coordinate their hooliganism via Twitter? Very enlightened.
- New CEO Dick Costolo!
- CEO Dick Costolo: Those fail whales will fail to appear in the future.
- 100 million active users.
- Twitter launches its own URL shortener to understand and monetize traffic leaving the site (and help users fit more in 140 characters).
- #NewTwitter prelaunches to almost as much controversy as New Coke.
2012: We’re a media company
- Twitter ads help people sell: 3 percent to 5 percent engagement.
- 12,000 tweets per second during Super Bowl.
- 2012 will be the “Twitter Election.”
- Twitter adds ads in mobile apps now, too.
- Growing, growing, gone: 140 million active users, 340 million tweets per day.
- Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have a high school hissy fit, and when the elephant sneezes, the mouse gets a cold.
- The Twitter celebrity PR scandal becomes de rigeur for the I-really-must-make-a-fool-of-myself-in-public set.
- Twitter becomes the new RSS reader.
- Twitter and the Olympics, cheering and winning together (unless you’re a journalist).
- 500 million users, with 140 million in the U.S.
- Apple and Twitter snuggle up, boosting Twitter’s user numbers.
- API-apocalypse hits, and Twitter lowers the hammer on third-party apps, many of which fade away into the sunset.
- Twitter and TV start their hot romance.
- Twitter works hard to make its stream more accessible to new users with Discover.
- Twitter starts censoring tweets on a per-country basis.
- Expanded tweets! Don’t leave! Read everything you need (or watch, or listen) right on Twitter.
- Obama wins, Twitter goes nuts: new 327,000 tweets/minute record
- Twitter Trends showcase breaking news in 100 global cities
- 200 million monthly active users
2013: The year of advertising, advertising, advertising (and media)
- $11 billion valuation! Almost no revenue!
- The Twitter TV Book showcases Twitter in the second-screen phenomenon.
- Twitter debuts Vine: An Instagram for video.
- Twitter is mentioned in half of all Super Bowl ads. #mediadarling
- Oops: People would put porn on Vine? Whoda thunk?
- Twitter preps for IPO, buys more companies than anyone except Facebook, Google, and Groupon.
- Ads API announced, select partners can sell Twitter ad inventory.
- Twitter #Music launches, everyone yawns.
- The Roman Catholic Church announces the new Pope … on Twitter.
- More ad targeting tools: demographics.
- Nielsen: Twitter buzz and TV ratings are correlated.
- More ad targeting tools: keywords.
- $200 million ad deal with Starcom.
- AP’s Twitter account hacked, hacker posts “White House bombed” tweet, stock market minicrash ensues.
- Twitter ads now open for all U.S. businesses.
- Costolo: We’re not competing with TV, we’re complementary. #loveya
- Twitter and $70B communications giant WPP announced “global strategic partnership” (for ads).
- Moar Ads API partners, moar money.
- Ad retargeting, ad customer targeting, Twitter revenue targeting.
- Twitter shares user details with the French government in the #unbonjuif affair.
- Twitter TV ad targeting.
- Promoted tweets boost spending 30 percent, Twitter says.
- Twitter buys a digital ad exchange, MoPub.
- Twitter files for IPO.