Twitter picks NYSE to list stock in blow to Nasdaq

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter Inc. is moving full speed ahead with its initial public offering even as the world braces for the possibility of a U.S. debt default that would roil financial markets and hurt the stock's debut.

The micro-blogging service said Tuesday that it would list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, handing a major victory to the Big Board over its rival, the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Also, Twitter could kick off its road show to market the IPO to investors in the last week of October, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The company is aiming to price the IPO on Nov. 14 and begin trading the next morning, the person said.

That the most hotly anticipated IPO since Facebook Inc. is pressing forward despite the government shutdown, now in its third week, is "a pretty confident" statement, said Max Wolff, chief economist and strategist at ZT Wealth.

If a deal in Washington over the debt ceiling is not reached, analysts are forecasting stock market volatility that could keep Twitter from getting a good price for its stock.

"This cements the idea that Twitter believes at least two things: One, that this is a hot IPO and two, that the window is open for them," Wolff said. "In New York, we call that chutzpah."

Twitter, which is seeking to raise more than $1 billion, on Tuesday updated its financial figures, which showed its revenue growth was continuing at a breakneck pace. News of the Twitter offering's timing was reported earlier by CNBC.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said its third-quarter revenue more than doubled to $168.6 million from $82.3 million a year earlier.

Driving revenue was advertising on mobile devices. Revenue from mobile devices accounted for 70% of Twitter's advertising revenue, up from more than 65% in the June quarter.

And Twitter continued to increase the number of ads that users are interacting with, according to the filing.

But its net loss was also much steeper, more than tripling to $64.6 million in the third quarter from $21.6 million a year ago as sales and marketing costs surged. It was the worst quarterly loss yet for the 7-year-old company.

"Retail investors may focus on the loss but the institutional investors will be encouraged by the growth," said Francis Gaskins, director of research for "They are on a good track."

Twitter said it would spend less on capital expenditures in 2012, from $215 million to $235 million, down from $225 million to $275 million.

Twitter also reported a jump in hiring, adding 300 employees for a total of 2,300. Stock-based compensation expenses jumped to $698.3 million from $297 million in the previous quarter.

The service continues to grow — another important metric for investors. The number of people using Twitter grew to 232 million from 218 million, up 6% from the previous quarter. But the year-over-year growth rate cooled. Users outside the U.S. made up 77% of monthly active users.

The filing also disclosed its major shareholders. Private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management holds the largest stake with 17.9%. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and affiliates own 10.3%. Venture capital firm Spark Capital has 6.8%, Benchmark has 6.6% and Union Square Ventures has 5.9%. DST Global, run by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, has 5%.

Twitter's decision to pick the NYSE marks the latest chapter in a bitter, intense rivalry between the country's two premier stock trading venues.

The all-electronic Nasdaq was once regarded as perhaps the only logical home for technology listings. It is, after all, the home of Google, Apple and Facebook. But the Big Board has been gaining appeal with technology companies after Facebook's marred public debut in May 2012 on Nasdaq.

The NYSE, meanwhile, has amped up its own technological systems and has increasingly become a launching pad for newly public tech companies.

"It's not as clear-cut as it used to be," said Miranda Mizen, a principal at the TABB Group, a financial industry research and consulting firm. "Technology is in the DNA of every exchange, so they ought to be able to compete."

Although it's not clear why Twitter chose the NYSE — or what incentives both exchanges dangled — Nasdaq's loss of the listing will be seen as a blow.

"This is an opportunity missed to remove the Facebook cloud," said Patrick Healy, chief executive of the Issuer Advisory Group, which advises public companies on where to list. "This was a shot at redemption."

The NYSE will win prestige and extra sizzle from the Twitter publicity. High interest from retail investors could lead to high trading volumes, which would translate into greater revenue for the NYSE at a time when profits are harder and harder to squeeze out of the exchange business.

Twitter's listing could also draw other tech companies that want to list their stocks.

"It shows the New York Stock Exchange is a major player," Mizen said. "It's definitely high-profile, for sure."

Still, Nasdaq is not to be counted out by any means. The exchange last week poached the listing of hotel operator Marriott International Inc. from the NYSE.

"They're both going after each other's strengths," Healy said.

A Twitter spokesman declined to comment.

The NYSE declined to detail what incentives it offered Twitter. But Healy said "co-branding" is typically central to any listing deal. He speculated that NYSE Euronext, the exchange's parent, would be buying advertising on Twitter as part of the arrangement.

"This is a decisive win for the NYSE," NYSE Euronext said in a statement. "We are grateful for Twitter's confidence in our platform and look forward to partnering with them."

Nasdaq, whose parent company's chief executive, Robert Greifeld, recently visited Twitter's San Francisco headquarters to make a personal pitch, said little. Its statement wasn't even enough to fill a 140-character tweet.

"All of us at Nasdaq wish Twitter well as they pursue their initial public offering," the exchange said.

Guynn reported from San Francisco and Tangel from New York.

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