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What Twitter's IPO Filing Revealed

What did Twitter's IPO filing reveal about the company?While Twitter initially filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO), they chose a confidential S-1 meaning little information about the company was made public as a result of the filing. But this has changed, and we now know a lot of behind-the-scenes info.

Currently, Twitter is being valued at $12.8 billion which is fairly shocking, considering the IPO papers show Twitter user numbers are actually on the decline (particularly in the US) and there is no sign a profit will be earned any time soon. Even so, some experts are placing the value at anywhere from $20 to $40 billion after the IPO.

One hurdle Twitter faces, according to the Wall Street Journal, is the excessive number of fake Twitter accounts shouting out spam all day long. While Twitter currently claims over 200 million active daily users, it’s difficult to know how many actual eyes are seeing those tweets and aren’t just bots spreading spam links. As anyone who uses a trending hashtag knows, spam is inevitable.

The San Francisco Chronicle highlights one interesting element of the IPO it’s unusually democratic. Unlike Facebook, where Mark Zuckerberg held on to 57% of the stock (and therefore control) of the company, Twitter founders and board members intend to only hold on to 18% or so of the stock, and each stock will equal one vote. This is pretty unusual.

The last element revealed by the public papers for Twitter’s IPO highlights an issue near and dear to my heart; the lack of women at the board level in tech. Yep, the Twitter board is all male, and all white. Well-known scholar of women in tech Vivek Wadhwa criticized the company for not including women in the New York Times:

“This is the elite arrogance of the Silicon Valley mafia, the Twitter mafia,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance who is writing a book on women in tech. “It’s the same male chauvinistic thinking. The fact that they went to the I.P.O. without a single woman on the board, how dare they?”

Twitter’s CEO responded by calling Vivek Wadhwa the “Carrot Top” of academics. Charming. The two had a longer discourse about this issue here, but if you read the rest of those tweets in the conversation you’ll see neither Twitter CEO @dickc or academic @wadhwa both men could be bothered to respond to the women discussing the issue, which is a damn shame. And sadly almost no outrage about the lack of people of color on the site, particularly because African-Americans and Hispanics are very heavy users of Twitter.

As a heavy user of Twitter myself, I find some of this information distressing and some of it fascinating. What do you think? Will you buy Twitter stock when it goes public?

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