Twitter, a privately held company built on blurbs, has finally laid itself bare in documents that read more like a treatise than a tweet.
The roughly 800-page filing Twitter Inc. released late Thursday on its way to an eagerly anticipated IPO contains tantalizing tidbits about its growth and its attempts to make money from its influential short messaging service.
Prospective investors and rivals alike will dissect and digest those morsels during the next few weeks leading up to the San Francisco company's Wall Street debut.
The suspense surrounding Twitter's IPO was heightened by the company's decision to take advantage of a law passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue to keep their IPO documents under seal until management is ready to make formal presentations to investors.
Thursday's lifting of the veil means Twitter can start pitching investors during a so-called "road show" as early as Oct. 24. The company's stock should begin trading under the ticker symbol "TWTR" before Thanksgiving, barring a market meltdown or regulatory hurdles.
Here are five key details revealed in Twitter's tome:
TWITTER'S GOT GROWTH TO GET EXCITED ABOUT
After Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out the first tweet in March 2006, the company didn't even try to make money for its few years. Instead, management focused on attracting more users and making the service more reliable.
It looks like Twitter's patient approach is paying off. Since former Google executive Dick Costolo became Twitter's CEO in 2010, the company's annual revenue has soared from $28 million to $317 million last year. Through the first half of this year, Twitter's revenue totaled $254 million, more than doubling from last year. If Twitter maintains that growth pace through the second half, the company's revenue will surpass $656 million this year.
Twitter gets 87 percent of its revenue from advertising. The rest comes from licensing agreements that give other companies better access to the flow of tweeting activity on its service.
Meanwhile, Twitter ended June with 218 million users, up from 30 million in early 2010. More than three-quarters of those users, or 169 million people, are located outside the U.S. Twitter's fastest growing markets are in Argentina, France, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
BUT THE COMPANY ISN'T PROFITABLE
It takes more than cultural heft to build a business of substance, as Twitter is learning. The company has suffered uninterrupted losses of $419 million since its inception. That's something Twitter has been