Twitter IPO: 'The end of Twitter's creative phase'

A Twitter tweet announcing the company's planned initial public offering (IPO) is pictured on a mobile telephone back-dropped by various twitter logos on October 4, 2013. A new book out details the sometimes-sordid history of how the social networking company got its start. 

In less than 24 hours, Twitter will go from the privately held microblogging service-that-could to a publicly traded social media juggernaut. At least, that's what the company's executives are hoping. 

As Wall Street waits to see if investors will line up for Twitter's initial public offering, the rest of the tech world is watching with anticipation. Many see Twitter's IPO as an important moment for their industry.

"Frankly, it's all anyone can talk about" in Silicon Valley, says Zach Seward, senior editor at Quartz. But while Twitter's employees and investors are likely about to become very wealthy, the IPO brings with it a likely sea change for the scores of users who have catapulted Twitter to popularity.

"For the 230 million users of Twitter, it's sort of the end of Twitter's creative phase," Seward says. "Think about Facebook -- went public last year, and since then, I think you'd be hard pressed to say that the service has improved if you're a user. Certainly, if you're a user, you see a lot more ads -- and the stock price is way up as a result -- but, as a service, I think, you have to say it was a much more interesting company pre-IPO."

In the build up to Thursday's IPO, Twitter has been rapidly expanding and attempting to move into new markets. Seward says Twitter thinks a key to future revenue lies in television advertising.

"One big bet that Twitter is making right now is that it can siphon off a large portion from TV advertising," Seward says.

But Twitter isn't the only social media platform competing for those dollars.

"Facebook, for one, is racing to match Twitter's claim that Twitter is where you go to talk about television,” Seward says. “They're like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa -- wait a minute -- more Americans, more people worldwide are using Facebook.' Twitter's leg up is simply that everything you do on Twitter -- as they endlessly remind us now -- is public."

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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