Update: Twitter goes public at $45 a share

Actor Patrick Stewart rings opening bell, as Twitter tweets '#Ring!'

Twitter is now a publicly traded company, opening at a price of $45.10 a share, 73% higher than its initial IPO price.

The micro-blogging company became the latest social network to launch an initial public offering, and traders spent the morning getting ready to begin buying and selling the company's stock.

The company begin trading under the stock symbol TWTR on the New York Stock Exchange shortly before 11 a.m. today.

At 2 p.m., Twitter's stock was selling at $46.03 per share. Earlier, it had hit a high of $50.09 per share and a low of $44. Overall, the stock price has been hovering in the mid-$40s range.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, said he was surprised by the company's quick pop in trading.

"I was surprised that the stock rocketed up so high -- and that was after bumping the price up twice in earlier this week," he said.

For Twitter, and for the social networking world, the IPO will be a milestone and a bellwether. Facebook, the largest social network in the world, had a troubled IPO launch last year.

Now all eyes are on Twitter, a company that has yet to make a profit, to see if it has charmed Wall Street and is capable of generating investor enthusiasm by pulling off a successful trading debut.

Late yesterday, Twitter closed its books and priced 70 million shares at $26 apiece. That price valued Twitter at $14.1 billion, though that figure could climb if underwriters pull more optional shares in for trading.

Financial analysts earlier today had predicted that Twitter's shares would start trading at $44 to $45.

Most thought a Twitter executive, like CEO Dick Costolo or co-founder Biz Stone, might ring the bell to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter, however, handed that illustrious job over to Patrick Stewart, the actor famous for portraying Captain Jean Luc Picard in TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation.

To mark the occasion, Twitter tweeted, "#Ring!"

With Twitter poised to be flush with new cash, industry analysts are turning their attention to how company executives might use the money.

While some analysts say Twitter will build up its infrastructure and invest in mobile and video technologies, they also note that the influx of money means that Twitter will become an even tougher competitor for Facebook, Instagram and Google+.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, in an interview on CNBC this morning, said he was pleased with the IPO launch. "I really wouldn't change anything about the way we've approached the process this time," he said. "I think that the team has just done a tremendous job preparing... for everything we were going to go through, and being thoughtful and methodical about everything we've done along the way."

He also sought to calm concerns that Twitter has not yet made a profit.

"Well, I'll start off by saying there's nothing structural about Twitter that prevents us from having the kind of margin profiles of our peer group," Costolo said. "We have a significant number of investments we want to make as we move down that path -- investments in our distributed platform, investment in our Twitter and TV strategy.... We will continue to make those investments in the growth of the core business for the foreseeable future."

Twitter started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Present for the ringing of the opening bell when Twitter made its debut as a public company were avid tweeters Cheryl Fiandaca of the Boston Police Department, 9-year-old Vivienne Harr and actor Patrick Stewart.

This article, "Twitter Goes Public at $45 a Share," 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.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon