NEW YORK — Twitter pulled back the curtain on its $1 billion initial public offering on Thursday, revealing that the social network is still unprofitable.
In its first public financial statement, Twitter said it lost $79.4 million on $316.9 million in sales in 2012.
The company is on track for an even steeper loss in 2013. It already has racked up $69 million in losses during the first six months of this year. But sales are also rapidly increasing: Twitter said it recorded $254 million in revenue during the same period.
Twitter, which was founded in 2006, has not recorded a profit for at least the past three years — the time period for which the company was required to disclose its financial information. Losses came in at $67 million in 2010 and $164 million in 2011.
But there were some bright spots in Twitter’s IPO filing. Unlike Facebook at the time of its IPO, Twitter’s mobile business is currently booming. Mobile ads accounted for 65% of ad revenue last quarter, and three-quarters of Twitter’s 218 million monthly active users accessed the service from a mobile device.
Twitter had previously filed its IPO paperwork “confidentially,” through a JOBS Act provision that gives companies with less than $1 billion in revenue extra time to keep their finances a secret.
How much is Twitter worth? In the IPO initial filing, companies don’t reveal how many shares they’re going to sell, or how much those shares will cost. Those details won’t be added until shortly before Twitter stock hits the market.
And so Twitter’s valuation remains speculative. Estimates based on purchases of private Twitter stock peg the company’s value at around $10 billion.
Sales breakdown: Like many of the newly public Internet companies, namely Facebook, Twitter’s business model is dominated by ads. Advertising accounted for 87% of Twitter’s revenue in the first six months of 2013, and 85% for all of 2012.
Twitter runs ads for corporate accounts, specific tweets and topics, and the sponsored content is tucked right into users’ feeds. Search for AT&T on Twitter, and a “promoted tweet” from Verizon or Microsoft’s Windows Phone may pop up.
A “who to follow” box suggests a promoted corporate account like Macy’s in the top slot. Advertisers can also place “trends” — say, the name of a TV show premiering tonight — in the list of topics that are popular worldwide or in a particular locale.
As of June 30, Twitter had $375 million in cash and liquid assets.
During the IPO process, it’s common for companies to re-file its paperwork several times over a period of weeks or months. Those updates will add more details on Twitter’s business, and it could even restate some of the financial information detailed in the first filing.
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