Twitter IPO filing: We’ve heard this tune before #facebook #google #changetheworld

It’s been tweeted: Twitter’s IPO filing — which has been long anticipated but whose timing seemed to be in the air amid a government shutdown — is here.

It’s been written: This is the most anticipated IPO since Facebook went public last year. And Twitter’s numbers are almost as eye-popping: As the Merc’s Jeremy Owens writes, Twitter is basically doing the lord’s work, hoping to turn 140 characters into $1 billion. (Facebook filed for a $5 billion IPO.)

But as we did when Facebook filed its S-1, we now turn to the words. There are plenty of similarities between the filings, especially about the missions of the companies. Last year, we compared the letter from Mark Zuckerberg that was included with Facebook’s filing against a letter written by two guys named Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2004, when Google announced its IPO intentions. Each had a theme that stood out. Facebook’s was “the hacker way”; Google’s captured its “don’t be evil” mantra. Both letters, as we noted, were long and idealistic, both written by the founders of the companies who clearly were conflicted about the changes going public would mean.

Twitter’s letter? Short and sweet, although it would take up several tweets. It’s signed by @twitter, not by its founders. There has been change at the top since Twitter was founded seven years ago; two of its co-founders, Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams, are listed on the S-1 as “non-employee directors.” Dorsey, who was forced out as CEO in 2008, is chairman of the board. Williams is a director. Its CEO is Dick Costolo, a former stand-up comedian.

But the message of Twitter’s filing doesn’t stray far from Facebook’s, and Google’s before that: “We focus on product innovation and user engagement rather than short-term operating results,” the San Francisco company’s filing says. Twitter says its focus on users could make it unpopular with advertisers who provide the revenue — which shareholders will demand. We all know how it goes.

Twitter also is clear about where it sees itself in the grand scheme of things. It touts its function during big events, including disasters and political revolutions. “By developing a fundamentally new way for people to create, distribute and discover content, we have democratized content creation and distribution, enabling any voice to echo around the world instantly and unfiltered,” the company says. (We could write more about the unfiltered part. In fact, we’ve done so in the past.)

But did someone say “echo”? The above is similar to this excerpt from Zuckerberg’s letter: “There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future.” It’s a competition for The Voice, and we’re not talking about the singing show. Soon it will be time to see which social network will outscore/outsoar the other — on Wall Street.


Photo of Twitter sign from AFP/Getty Images


Share this Post