With IPO cash influx, Twitter could be bigger threat to Facebook

Twitter expected to raise initial share price again, just ahead of Thursday IPO

If Twitter's IPO succeeds and the social network is showered with a new stockpile of cash, the site could become an even bigger threat to social media giants Facebook and Google+.

Twitter is set to close its books late this afternoon and launch its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday morning.

As it gears up for its debut as a publicly traded company, Twitter is expected to raise its initial stock price to as much as $28 per share, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The increase would be the second boost to the stock price this week.

Just days ago, company executives bumped the company's share price range from the original $17-$20 per share to $23-$25 per share.

Most analysts say this second price bump is a bad move.

"This strikes me as overly aggressive," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "While I think it's a smart move for companies going public to get as much capital as they can raise, Twitter is still a company that has yet to make a profit. Sure, Twitter has made tweeting a household word, and their app serves hundreds of millions of users, but the company still doesn't have a solid plan for monetizing this massive user base, while, at the same time, not alienating users with intrusive advertising."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at ZK Research, called Twitter's price increase "risky."

"There's a lot of hype around this IPO but, as we saw with Facebook, the upped price can cause investors to stay away," he added. "They're buying into their own hype and the financial backers are getting greedy."

Kerravala said he'd rather see Twitter start out with a lower share price and then watch it shoot up, creating excitement in the market.

If Twitter's IPO goes well and brings in billions of dollars for the social network, executives likely have a wish list all ready to go.

Brian Blau, an analyst at research firm Gartner, said Twitter executives should be focused on bolstering operations, expanding internationally, and bringing in new talent.

Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis, said Twitter should use some of its new wealth to invest in its own infrastructure.

"Things have gotten better over the past year, but because of the heavily episodic nature of Twitter use, which ebbs and flows along with cultural interest in volatile trends, Twitter will need to keep the Fail Whale at bay if it is to build a consistent and successful advertising program," said Shimmin, using the term Twitter coined to describe service disruptions. "Honestly, I think after the requisite Ferraris have been purchased, the company will invest in its future. There are many opportunities out there for a company like Twitter, which serves a highly mobile and engaged customer base. Think location- or event-based advertising."

A money-infused Twitter could be an even bigger threat to other social networks, like Facebook, Instagram and Google+.

Twitter, has had a tight grip on the immediacy factor in social networking.

When there's a major event, such as the Red Sox win the World Series or a hurricane, many people turn to Twitter before other social networks to celebrate, share information and vent their frustrations.

Facebook, aware that it has a ways to go to foster a feeling of immediacy among its users, adopted Twitter-like hashtags and Trending Topics.

Olds said becoming a bigger challenger to Facebook and other social networks is precisely what Twitter needs to do.

"Twitter is going to have to become a bigger competitor to the other social networking companies, since they're competing for the same advertising dollars," he added.

This article, "With IPO Cash Influx, Twitter Bigger Threat to Facebook," was originally published on Computerworld.com.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter, at @sgaudin, and on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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