Want A Piece Of Twitter's IPO? Look Here First
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Social media destroyed my business, but now I find it indispensible. Let me explain...
Starting from scratch as a newly minted college graduate with a business degree, lots of nerve and very little money, I launched my venture with a $15 investment in marketing fliers and a tank of gasoline.
Being interested in the real estate business, I saw a need to supplement the regional listing service with an inexpensive weekly hard-copy supplement for the local community of real estate agents. I designed and distributed a flier to the real estate offices around my home that explained what I was offering.
Unbelievably, the first week in business I had made my initial investment back plus a small profit. Soon, the business started making more money than my meager salary at the insurance company, prompting me to take it full time. I outsourced most of the labor, and my little company grew to be the go-to source of updates and marketing of listed residential properties in my region.
However, I had an unstoppable competitor always nipping at my heels. This competitor was the Internet at first, but then it became the final nail in my little company's coffin -- in the form of social media.
At first, I didn't pay much attention to the growing influence of the Internet. I knew that it had a huge effect on certain markets around the country, such as California. However, because my clients were generally old-school agents who did things the same way they had done for years, I felt safe.
After years of an expanding or steady business, however, I started to notice a decline as real estate agents began carrying smartphones and laptops and tapping into networks that connected them with the latest information in real time. The need for weekly hard-copy updates soon faded into oblivion as even my die-hard, old-fashioned, newspaper reading, landline-only clients started switching to social media sources for their updates.
As fast as my business started, it ended. Although social media destroyed my first business, I couldn't imagine living without it now.
If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them
Social media sites like LinkedIn (Nasdaq: LNKD) , Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) and Twitter have become my go-to source for networking, friendships and even up-to-the-second stock market news. These sites have not only changed the world, but they have changed my world for the better.
Social media's impact has been truly revolutionary. According to eMarketer.com, more than 1.7 billion people will use social media in some way this year.
Not only has social media changed the lives of users, it has made many investors wealthy. Even after its IPO "flop," Facebook is trading near $51 after falling to $17. LinkedIn has soared nearly 150% this year.
Now, a new social media monster is poised to enter the publicly traded domain. Recently, Twitter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to start the ball rolling for its initial public offering.
Launched in 2006, this social media service has revolutionized communication through its 140-character real-time bursts. It now boasts more than 200 million users. While Twitter is unlikely to be the largest Internet IPO ever, it has Wall Street buzzing in anticipation.
In comparison, Facebook raised more than $16 billion in its May 2012 IPO. Rumors and private stock exchanges have Twitter valued at roughly $10 billion. It is said that Twitter hopes to raise about $1.5 billion, which will value the company at around $15 billion to $16 billion after the IPO. Shares are expected to hit the market at around $30 with approximately 50 million sold.
Free to use, Twitter has only recently started earning revenue through advertising. Research firm eMarketer.com estimates Twitter's revenue will double in 2013, to more than $580 million, then climb to $950 million the following year.
Twitter's IPO will very likely make its early investors and founders very wealthy. Right now, more than 50 institutions and individuals own shares from direct purchases, acquisitions and secondary sales. Famous names like magnate Richard Branson, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and actor Ashton Kutcher own shares, along with a host of lesser-known venture capitalists.
Even if you're not among this lucky group of individuals, however, there are still ways you might profit from Twitter's IPO.
As in most IPOs, non-insider investors are better served with less risk by waiting several days for the hype to settle down before buying in. IPOs are notoriously volatile and suitable for only the most sophisticated trader on the first day of trade.
How Can You Profit Now?
There are two main avenues in which individual investors may profit from Twitter's IPO: a social media exchange-traded fund ( ETF ) and a venture capital firm that holds about 15% of Twitter.
Global X Social Media Index ETF (Nasdaq: SOCL)
This ETF is made up of a basket of social media companies from the United States and Asia. The ETF is up more than 40% this year and will likely obtain shares in Twitter as soon as possible. In addition, China's Alibaba Group is considering going public soon, and that could also substantially boost the value of this ETF.
GSV Capital (Nasdaq: GSVC)
This closed-end management firm owns about 15% of Twitter's investible assets, along with several other technology companies. Basically, this firm obtains private shares in pre-IPO companies in the hope of successful offerings. It may have a huge winner with Twitter.
Risks to Consider: We only have to look back as far as Facebook's IPO to see the risk of initial investment in IPOs. While Twitter might not flop like Facebook, there are still plenty of unknowns and risks involved with its IPO.
Action to Take --> Although GSV Capital may be suitable for risk-taking, sophisticated investors, I lean strongly toward the Global X Social Media ETF as the wisest way to participate in the early stages after Twitter's IPO because it spreads the risk across the social media space. In addition, the hype surrounding Twitter and the potential Alibaba Group IPO should result in profits for this ETF.