Russia's DST Out of Twitter Funding Race, With Kleiner Poised to Take the Deal
According to sources close to the situation, the aggressive Russian investment outfit DST Global is out of the running to fund Twitter.
Instead, the prize is almost certainly going to Kleiner Perkins, the legendary Silicon Valley venture firm of Web 1.0 that has been making a big push of late into the Web 2.0 market.
The valuation for the new round–which sources said is well above $150 million–will be from $3.5 billion to $4 billion.
And it is not clear if there are any other smaller investors in this funding, but sources said that was likely.
Sources added that the San Francisco microblogging service will be completing its newest round of funding next week, although Twitter might not even announce it publicly.
The new round will be the first in a year for Twitter.
In the fall of 2009, Twitter raised funding at a $1 billion valuation to help spur its growth to its current size of 325 employees, serving its 175 million users.
Such growth was of interest to DST, which has made giant investments in social networking giant Facebook, social gaming rocket ship Zynga and Groupon, the social buying site that recently ended acquisition talks with Google.
Twitter moving into its next phase of development is an attractive target for many VCs, as it seeks a lucrative way to monetize its popular business.
And, in fact, Kleiner star VC John Doerr has been making a big push to be the big investor in this key next round for Twitter, which also has had regular acquisition interest from both Google and Facebook.
What will be interesting to see is if acquisition interest in Twitter from the pair spikes, given the collapse of Google’s attempt to buy Groupon.
The talks with Twitter began, according to several sources, after Kleiner had considered investing in PostUp–the Twitter search engine and advertising platform start-up from Bill Gross’s Idealab, which was first called TweetUp.
PostUp irked Twitter, and its CEO Dick Costolo was particularly vocal about not allowing third-party ad rivals to create a spammier service.
Sources said it was Bill Campbell, well-known Silicon Valley exec and adviser to multiple companies such as Google, who brought Kleiner and Twitter into discussions.
Campbell’s latest coaching task has been at Twitter.
Kleiner has also recently stepped up its Web 2.0 game with the hiring of high-profile Wall Street analyst Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley.
She has been brought in to help turbocharge the firm’s digital investment portfolio, especially in social, mobile and commerce.
The move has underscored Kleiner’s noisy intent of late to jump into the social Web market.
After scoring a late entry into the scene with its investment in the fast-growing social gaming start-up Zynga, Kleiner has made a big marketing push recently to allocate a dedicated $250 million “sFund” to social start-ups.
NetworkEffect’s Liz Gannes first wrote of Kleiner’s interest in Twitter a week ago, followed by a report a day later in TechCrunch about Kleiner’s primacy in the Twitter funding race and Doerr’s fervent effort to land the investment.
None of the players mentioned here has responded to BoomTown’s request for a comment.