October 3, 2013, 4:59 PM

Twitter shows its hand

The social network prepares to go public.

Lead Photo

Twitter for the first time today released details of its revenue, profits and user base in the form of an official filing in advance of its initial public offering of stock. Twitter says it looks to generate $1 billion from the IPO.

While not profitable, the company’s revenue is growing, and Twitter made clear it’s staking its future on consumers tweeting actively from their smartphones.

“We expect that the proportion of active users on, and advertising revenue generated from, mobile devices, will continue to grow in the near term,” Twitter says.

Twitter, which disclosed earlier this month its plans to go public says it has more than 218 million active users. That compares to 819 million active users of Facebook as of June 30.

In its S1 filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter documents its rapid revenue growth. It says it had had $253.6 million in revenue in the first half of 2013, up 107.1% from $122.4 million in the same period a year earlier. Twitter generated $316.9 million in revenue last year, up 198.1% from $106.3 million in 2011.

However, it has yet to turn a profit. Twitter says it lost $69.3 million in the first half of the year, compared to a $49.1 million loss during the same period a year earlier. Twitter says it lost $79.4 million in 2012, down from a $161.4 million loss in 2011.

Twitter calls mobile the “primary driver of our business,” in the filing. It notes that in the three months ended June 30, more than 161 million users accessed Twitter from a mobile device, including mobile phones and tablets, and more than 65% of its advertising revenue stemmed from presenting ads to users on mobile devices.

Advertising accounts for the lion’s share of Twitter’s revenue, with the remainder stemming from its selling of its data to various vendors. Twitter says that advertising generated $221.4 million in revenue in the first half of 2013, up 119% from $101.3 million in the same period a year earlier. Advertising generated $269.4 million in revenue in 2012, up 246.7% from 2011.

Twitter says its growth will come from finding new ways to encourage marketers to advertise on its platform. In particular, it says it plans to develop new ad formats, such as its recently released ad unit Twitter Amplify, which allows advertisers to embed ads into real-time video content.

It also aims to expand the number of international marketers that advertise on its platform. Twitter says its international revenue was $53 million in 2012 and $62.8 million the first half of the year, which represent 17% and 25% of total revenue for those periods, respectively. That’s despite the majority of Twitter’s monthly active users—169 million, roughly 78%—of the social network’s users are international.

A report earlier this year from eMarketer Inc. predicted the microblogging service’s revenue to jump 63.0% to $950.0 million in 2014, and 40.0% to $1.33 billion by 2015.

According to Internet Retailer’s 2013 Social Media 300, which ranks retailers by the percentage of traffic to their web sites from social networks, the average web site traffic from Twitter for the Top 50 retailers in that list stands at 0.31%.

The firms underwriting Twitter’s IPO are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. Until today Twitter had kept details of its IPO filing confidential under a provision of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or Jobs Act, a federal law signed last year by President Obama. Companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue do not have to disclose revenue and other facts until three weeks before launching their public presentations for potential investors. 

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