News Column

Twitter's IPO Means 1,600 New Millionaires

November 9, 2013

By Peter Delevett, San Jose Mercury News

Twitter's IPO Means 1,600 New Millionaires

If you're thinking of buying a home in the Bay Area, better move quick: More than 1,600 new millionaires are walking around today thanks to Twitter's initial public offering of stock.

That estimate, from financial analysis firm PrivCo, is just one of the ways Thursday's Wall Street welcome for the San Francisco microblogging service has shifted the local landscape.

While Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey are now billionaires, and Chief Executive Dick Costolo's stake tops $300 million, according to regulatory filings, PrivCo CEO Sam Hamadeh said it's the hundreds of rank-and-file engineers whose newfound wealth will create the widest ripples.

"This one will have far implications for everything from real estate prices to new capital for other startups to California's budget," Hamadeh said.

(Jerry Brown, take note: Hamadeh reckons Sacramento's due a $479 million income-tax windfall from Twitter employees, though they won't be able to sell any stock for least six months due to federal "lockup" rules.)

Palo Alto Realtor Ken DeLeon agreed that Twitter -- which sold 80.5 million shares at $26, only to see them shoot as high as $50 once public trading began -- will impact local housing prices much as Facebook's IPO did last year.

"This place is so supply-constrained that when you have these large influxes of liquidity, it causes upspikes in price," said DeLeon.

While he expects double-digit housing price growth to continue next year in San Francisco and the Peninsula, DeLeon predicted the rest of the region also will start sharing in the largesse due to the inventory shortage.

"It's like concentric circles beginning in Palo Alto," he said. "So many of these companies are doing well that next year you're going to see the East Bay and San Jose start approaching 2007-peak pricing."

In a year that's already seen more IPOs than any time since 2007 -- the same year, coincidentally, that Twitter was incorporated -- and with three more Silicon Valley firms queued up to go public next week, Twitter's successful debut suggests the music is unlikely to stop soon.

"Very rarely do windows like these open up," said Anamitra Banerji, a partner at Menlo Park venture firm Foundation Capital -- and one of those new millionaires. He was Twitter's 30th employee and developed the "promoted tweets" that are the backbone of its advertising business.

Venky Ganesan, another venture capitalist, said Thursday's result will encourage more companies that had been mulling an IPO to dive in. He also said the strong run of tech IPOs will mean big payouts to the pension funds and university endowments that invest in venture firms.

After a tough fundraising environment that trailed the dot-com bust, "Money is going to start flowing back into venture capital," said Ganesan, a partner at Menlo Ventures.

Sitting especially pretty will be the firms that backed Twitter. Menlo Park's Benchmark Capital, for instance, owns a nearly 6 percent stake, according to regulatory documents -- now good for $1.3 billion. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which one person familiar with the matter said invested close to $150 million in Twitter at the end of 2011, likely saw that stake shoot past $1 billion as well, based on the company's rumored valuation when Kleiner invested.

Neither Ganesan's firm nor Banerji's owns shares of Twitter, but both men said its instant tycoons are sure to join their peers from Google (GOOG), Facebook and PayPal in seeding new startups. "Many of them will start companies, and many of them will invest in others," said Banerji. "The key phrase is recycled money."

Twitter's share price, after rising 73 percent on Thursday, mostly held its own Friday. It opened near $46 before tailing gradually off to a $41.65 closing price. The lack of a marked sell-off, experts said, probably indicated investor profit-taking rather than broad skepticism that the stock is overinflated -- though there's plenty of that sentiment going around too.

Rapid Ratings, a New York firm that helps clients assess the financial health of potential investments, warned that Twitter's IPO bore the hallmarks of one from the dot-com bubble, given its lack of profitability and rising costs. Indeed, the company's $23 billion-plus valuation, based on Friday's closing price, approaches that of LinkedIn, a bigger and more profitable rival.

On the other hand, online brokerage Capital One ShareBuilder reported that the number of new accounts being opened the day Twitter went public was triple the average. CEO Dan Greenshields said most of those accounts were directly related to the IPO.

Demand for Twitter was so high that its underwriters sold an extra 10.5 million shares beyond the 70 million planned, according to news website Quartz. All told, the company took in nearly $2.1 billion.

Analyst Martin Pyykkonen of Wedge Partners was also optimistic, opining in a recent report that Twitter has "at least as promising" an opportunity as Facebook to snare ad revenue over the long term.

One guy who might have reason to feel less chipper after Twitter's flawless first-day showing was Nasdaq CEO Robert Greiffeld. His stock exchange long dominated the tech scene but suffered a meltdown during Facebook's debut last year. Overwhelming demand led to a software crash, delayed trading and resulted in at least $42 million in compensation for angry investors.

Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange reportedly competed fiercely to land Twitter's business, which the NYSE ultimately won -- in part because CEO Costolo was said to be avoiding the Facebook playbook.

But Bruce Aust, who heads new listings for Nasdaq, took things in stride Friday.

"Honestly," he said, "it's just one deal."

Contact Peter Delevett at 408-271-3638. Follow him at Twitter.com/mercwiretap.

MORE IPOS COMING SOON

These Silicon Valley companies are expected to go public next week:

CardioDX -- Palo Alto -- Diagnostic tests for heart disease

Chegg -- Santa Clara -- Online textbook rentals

Relypsa -- Redwood City -- Heart, kidney and metabolic treatments

Source: Renaissance Capital

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Original headline: Twitter's IPO means 1,600 new millionaires -- and more good news for Silicon Valley


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Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)


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