Mike Isaac

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Twitter Files for IPO

hashtag_twitterThe long-awaited day has come.

Twitter, the 200 million user microblogging service, has filed for its initial public offering. Fittingly, the only public acknowledgement came in the form of a simple tweet.

“We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO,” the company said in a tweet on Thursday. “This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.”

A Twitter spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Update: A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the tweet is accurate.)

Twitter’s disclosure of its filing is a spin on a new “secret” IPO process made possible by the recent JOBS act, which gives companies the ability to make their initial filings with the SEC without public scrutiny.

Assuming Twitter does eventually decide to sell shares to the public, it will have to disclose financial documents to the rest of world. In the meantime, the company and its bankers can communicate with the SEC in private.

The fact that Twitter is taking advantage of a JOBS filing means that the company’s annual revenue is less than $1 billion, since anyone above that threshold can’t use that process. “Secret” IPOs have been popular throughout 2013, though this is the first time we’ve seen a company acknowledge the initial S-1 filing in public.

One major benefit to filing confidentially is that if Twitter does have any issues to hash out with the SEC early on in the process, we won’t get to see that particular sausage get made.

If, for instance, Groupon had been able to use the confidential process, investors wouldn’t have watched the back and forth over a novel accounting method that Groupon initially wanted to use and eventually abandoned.

In hindsight, the timing of Twitter’s filing has been foreshadowed by its actions. On Monday, the company made its biggest acquisition to date by buying MoPub, the mobile ad exchange startup, in a deal primarily composed of Twitter stock. On that same day, CEO Dick Costolo appeared at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference and made a speech that was notable because it contained almost no information about his company.

On Thursday, one minute after its initial S-1 announcement, @twitter issued a follow-up tweet:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald