Five questions answered on Twitter’s bid to raise $1bn from the stock market

Twitter has revealed plans to try and raise $1bn (£619m) in its stock market debut. We answer five questions on Twitter’s stock market flotation plans.

Why is Twitter looking to raise $1bn from the stock market?

Despite major success seven-year-old Twitter has never made a profit.

Its revenue has grown from just $28m in 2010 to $317m by the end of 2012. However, in the first six months of 2013 it made a loss of $69m.

Do analysts think Twitter will get a good response?

Yes. Internet analyst Lou Kerner speaking to the BBC said:

Social media is red hot.

Twitter is front and centre benefiting from market enthusiasm for all things social, and remarkably strong metrics.

Where does Twitter’s revenue come from?

The social networking sites finances have been revealed for the first time thanks to the stock market filing.

It reveals that around 85 per cent of Twitter's revenue last year came from ad sales, while the rest was from licensing its data.

A significant slice of its ad revenue comes from mobile devices.

As of 2013, over 65 per cent of the company's advertising revenue was generated from mobile devices.

What other Twitter related facts have been revealed?

The stock market filing revealed that Twitter now has 218 million monthly users and that 500 million tweets are sent a day.

More than 75 per cent of Twitter users accessed the site from their mobile phone during that same time period.

It also revealed that co-founder Evan Williams has a 12 per cent stake and other co-founder Jack Dorsey a 4.9 per cent stake in Twitter, which could mean they could stand to take significant sums from the company's stock market listing.

Benchmark Capital's Peter Fenton, an early investor in the company, is the second-biggest shareholder, with 6.7 per cent of shares.

So, overall is Twitter’s stock market plans good news for its users?

"Users should be happy about this," said Zachary Reiss-Davis, an analyst with Forrester told the BBC.

"It looks like Twitter is looking at how to enrich the experience and it understands that to build a successful service, they have to create something people like and want to come back to and spend time on."

 

Around 85 per cent of Twitter's revenue last year came from ad sales. Photo: Getty

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

Photo: Martin Whitfield
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Labour MP for East Lothian Martin Whitfield: "I started an argument and ended up winning an election"

The former primary school teacher still misses home. 

Two months ago, Martin Whitfield was a primary school teacher in Prestonpans, a small town along the coast from Edinburgh. Then he got into an argument. It was a Saturday morning shortly after the snap election had been called, and he and other members of the local Labour party began discussing a rumour that the candidate would be an outsider.

“I started an argument that this was ridiculous, we couldn’t have a candidate helicoptered in,” he recalls. He pointed out that one of the main issues with the Scottish National Party incumbent, the economist and journalist George Kerevan, was that he was seen as an outsider.

“I kept arguing for an hour and a half and people started gently moving away,” he jokes. “About two days later I was still going on, and I thought enough’s enough.” 

He called Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour veteran, who interrupted him. “He said, 'Right Martin, are you going to put up or shut up?’ So I filled in the forms.

"Then I had to have a very interesting conversation with my wife.”

One successful election campaign later, he is sitting in the airy, glass-roofed atrium of Westminster’s Portcullis House. Whitfield has silver hair, glasses, and wears a Labour-red tie with his shirt. He looks every bit the approachable primary school teacher, and sometimes he forgets he isn’t anymore. 

I ask how the school reacted to his election bid, and he begins “I have”, and then corrects himself: “There is a primary four class I had the pleasure to teach.” The children wanted to know everything from where parliament was, to his views on education and independence. He took unpaid leave to campaign. 

“Actually not teaching the children was the hardest thing,” he recalls. “During the campaign I kept bumping into them when I was door-knocking.”

Whitfield was born in Newcastle, in 1965, to Labour-supporting parents. “My entire youth was spent with people who were socialists.”

His father was involved in the Theatre Workshop, founded by the left-wing director Joan Littlewood. “We were part of a community which supported each other and found value in that support in art and in theatre,” he says. “That is hugely important to me.” 

He trained as a lawyer, but grew disillusioned with the profession and retrained as a teacher instead. He and his wife eventually settled in Prestonpans, where they started a family and he “fought like mad” to work at the local school. She works as the marketing manager for the local theatre.

He believes he won his seat – one of the first to be touted as a possible Labour win – thanks to a combination of his local profile, the party’s position on independence and its manifesto, which “played brilliantly everywhere we discussed it”. 

It offered hope, he says: “As far as my doorstep discussion in East Lothian went, some people were for and against Jeremy Corbyn, some people were for and against Kezia Dugdale, but I didn’t find anyone who was against the manifesto.”

Whitfield’s new job will mean long commutes on the East Coast line, but he considers representing the constituency a “massive, massive honour”. When I ask him about East Lothian, he can’t stop talking.

“MPs do tend to say ‘my constituency’s a microcosm’, but it really is Scotland in miniature. We have a fishing industry, crabs and lobsters, the agricultural areas – the agricultural soil is second to none.” The area was also historically home to heavy industry. 

After his first week in Westminster, Whitfield caught the train back to Scotland. “That bit when I got back into East Lothian was lovely moment,” he says. “I was home.”

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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