Twitter’s IPO storms out of the gate, but some already sense trouble

The social media giant valued itself at more than $18 billion—and traders pushed that number higher.

Mar 2, 2020, 12:39 pm*



Miles Klee

Wednesday evening, Twitter Inc. issued a press release about its Thursday IPO via—what else?—the company Twitter account. The company would be putting 70,000,000 common shares on the open market, priced at $26 apiece, for a market value of $18.1 billion, trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “TWTR.”  

Hardcore users were quick to mock an apparent lack of platform proficiency.

Naysayers or no, the mood was cheery as popular Twitter user Patrick Stewart rang the opening bell Thursday morning with 9-year-old Vivienne Harr, who kept a lemonade stand running an entire year to protest slavery, as well as a representative of the Boston Police department. These were the sorts of users who helped to build Twitter, the NYSE said.

An hour and a half later, trade began in earnest, with bankers at bookrunner Goldman Sachs relieved to see that shares were fetching $45.10 apiece, or 73 percent above the initial public offering price. It quickly edged up past $50 but leveled out came back down toward $45 and has been dancing around that figure for most of the day.

By noon, the New York Times’ DealBook reported, analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research had seen enough to downgrade TWTR to a “sell” rating. “He said that to justify the $45 price today, Twitter would have to generate more than $6 billion in annual revenue by 2018.” This year’s revenue is expected to be a tenth of that.

Wieser recommended picking up stock in Facebook instead, as the two companies are still farther from being direct competitors than anyone assumes. Facebook had a comparatively disastrous IPO, and its shares had been in the low-$20 doldrums for much of the summer, but of late they’ve been trending closer to where Twitter plateaued today. Twitter’s stock ultimately closed at $45.41 but today but has since dipped further in after-hours trading. 

While these stocks duke it out in the mid–two figures, of course, Google continues to ride above $1,000 a share, and LinkedIn is trading at around $215, even though both prices fell today. If either Twitter or Facebook wants to be king of the tech mountain in the market’s eyes, they have a long climb ahead.

Photo by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Nov 7, 2013, 5:05 pm