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“You’re talking to a very happy, very emotional person right now,” early Twitter investor George Zachary told me minutes ago.
Zachary’s investment firm CRV bought just one percent of Twitter in 2006 — almost as soon as the company was born — for $250,000. At the time, that was a huge risk, since most startups fail, and the prospects of an oddly-named 140-character social news site hitting the big time must have seemed distant, if not far-fetched.
But very shortly, that $250,000 could be worth a massive $150 million, as Twitter announced its intention to file for an initial public offering today. Zachary was taken entirely by surprise.
“I was literally reading the Twitter IPO information on Twitter,” he said. “I’m not on the board and had no clue the filing was happening today.”
Zachary couldn’t speculate on the eventual value of the deal, or the valuation that Twitter will attempt to go public at. But analysts have estimated that Twitter is making about $500 million in annual revenue this year — double its revenue from 2012 — and will price the IPO at $15 billion. That means Zachary’s little one percent slice would be worth a very handsome 9-figure sum.
Not bad for a little 140-character messaging site.
The timing of the IPO is a surprise, as most industry analysts expected it in early 2014. But Facebook’s recent stock market success, and the fact that analysts believe that the NASDAQ might just be ending its 13-year bear run, mean that now might be a better time, Zachary speculated, meaning that a number of factors that have nothing to do with Twitter might just help Twitter find a successful debut.
Tonight, Zachary will likely be opening a big bottle of bubbly. However, one thought did cross his mind before popping the cork:
“Facebook announced its IPO on Facebook. Twitter announced on Twitter. What happens if Snapchat files?”
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