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Twitter's goal in IPO: To avoid becoming Facebook

Nov 08 2013, 15:30 IST
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Twitter Inc. logo is displayed on screens prior to its IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Reuters) Twitter Inc. logo is displayed on screens prior to its IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Reuters)
SummaryTwitter CFO Mike Gupta grilled banks about how to sidestep the problems that beset Facebook's IPO.

As Twitter Inc's chief financial officer planned the company's initial public offering this year, he had one overriding goal: to avoid becoming the next Facebook Inc.

Twitter CFO Mike Gupta grilled banks about how to sidestep the problems that beset Facebook's IPO from start to finish, asking detailed questions about everything from how to pick an exchange to how to communicate with analysts.

"They were really information and data hogs," said one person who worked on the process. "They wanted a lot of different perspectives and to make sure that they did this right."

In the end, Twitter made different choices from its rival social networking site. Facebook selected Morgan Stanley as its lead underwriter, while Twitter picked Goldman Sachs. Facebook listed on Nasdaq, where trading glitches marred the initial hours of trading, while Twitter listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Twitter made sure its shares were sold for a low enough price to attract strong interest and keep shares high in their early days of trading, after Facebook's shares dropped in the days after its IPO.

Bankers said Gupta and Twitter's director of investor relations Nils Erdmann also looked closely at what worked - and what did not - for other Internet companies that went public, including Pandora Media Inc, Zynga Inc and LinkedIn Corp.

A key player in the IPO was Goldman's lead Twitter banker, Anthony Noto. The New York-based Noto was a former top ranked equity research analyst who left Goldman in 2008 to serve as an executive for the National Football League. He rejoined the firm just two years later to serve as the co-head of global technology, media and telecom investment banking.

Noto has built the team into the number one U.S. underwriter for tech IPOs so far this year, over Morgan Stanley and rival banker Michael Grimes who led the Facebook IPO, as well as other high profile deals, including Google and LinkedIn.

Goldman has taken over 16 technology companies public since January, including software darling Tableau Software Inc. For the same period last year Goldman was fifth, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Those that have worked with Noto praise his low-key, no-nonsense style.

"Every banker talks about wanting to build a relationship but after you do a deal with them, you are dropped like yesterday's newspaper," said Ed DiMaria, the chief financial officer of Bankrate Inc who first worked with Noto when he helped take his company public in June 2011. "With

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