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Twitter: 100 million active users and no plans to go public soon

September 9, 2011 | 12:10 pm

Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo
Twitter has megabucks in the bank and no interest in going public anytime soon.

That was one of the headlines from an informal conversation with Chief Executive Dick Costolo at the company's San Francisco headquarters Thursday.

"We went out and just raised a bunch of money, more money than I have ever seen before. We raised $400 million. Now we have what I believe can only be referred to as truckload of money in the bank. We did that because we were able to do that on very favorable terms and be in control of our own destiny, and grow the business the way we want to," Costolo told reporters. "We will be a public company on our own terms."

Twitter raked in $800 million in funding in a round that valued the company at $8 billion, with $400 million going into its coffers and $400 million to let employees and investors cash out some of their shares.

Now Twitter is sharing some of the reasons why Russian financier Yuri Milner and other investors are so bullish on the company's prospects.

The other headline: Costolo for the first time shared the number of active users on the site. He said that Twitter has surpassed 100 million active users worldwide.

Facebook says it has more than 750 million users worldwide. Research firm ComScore Inc. measured users of Google's new social networking service Google+ at 25 million.

Half of Twitter's active users, about 50 million, log on to Twitter every day. Over 55% of those active users are mobile users. The company said that it is on track to add 26 million users in the next four months.

Twitter's usage has increased more than 80% since the beginning of the year, Costolo said.

One of the most interesting statistics: About 40% of active users have not posted an update on Twitter in the past month. Costolo says that's because Twitter is breaking into the mainstream and users are following accounts on Twitter but don't feel pressured to post their own updates. In explaining that statistic to reporters, he referred twice to New York venture capitalist Fred Wilson, whose mother checks up on Wilson on Twitter but doesn't log in, and Wilson's son, who follows NBA players but doesn't log in. Get the story from Wilson himself.

He said that Twitter is getting 400 million unique visitors a month (according to Google analytics).

Costolo also shared the number of tweets per day: 230 million. He said that number has increased 110% from the beginning of the year.

In giving the roundup on the state of Twitter's business, Costolo also underscored the company's ambition to add more features and more advertising to the site while increasing its reliability and clamping down on how often users see what he calls the most famous 404 page in the history of the Internet: the fail whale.

Twitter is also expanding its Promoted Tweets, which are ads in time lines. It used to be that you would only see Promoted Tweets from advertisers you follow. Soon you will see them for advertisers you don't follow, and Twitter will roll out advertising to third-party services, not just showing ads on Twitter's own site.

"Promoted Tweets will eventually go everywhere that tweets go," Costolo said.

Asked about his impressions of Google+, Costolo made it clear that, although Facebook and Google insist that users go by their real names and identities, on Twitter you can go by a pseudonym. Twitter is interested in connecting people to information that is meaningful to them, Costolo said. It's a different approach to building a network and one that sidesteps some of the controversy that is now dogging Google+.

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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo answers questions onstage at an All Things Digital conference. Credit: Asa Mathat / All Things Digital

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