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One of the biggest concerns about Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) is that its future revenue might be negatively affected by the growing shift toward mobile devices. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo doesn't see this as a problem for his business, however. At a recent event sponsored by The Economist in San Francisco, he said, "we're born of mobile" and are "set up for success" in this area.
A business that is working fabulously
Costolo shared a lot of fascinating data and insights at the conference. Twitter currently has 140 million active users who produce 400 million tweets a day. Two and a half years ago, the company decided to go with an ad-based model, though it also pursues data licensing opportunities as well. Costolo said that Twitter is an advertising platform, and that's how it will go to market.
When asked whether Twitter was thinking about a possible IPO now that Facebook had gone public, Costolo said that management isn't focused on that at all, and prefers to think about the long term. The business is "currently working fabulously," according to Costolo, and he's really excited about the future.
A recent report from Bloomberg seems to support Costolo's view. According to two people with information on the issue, Twitter is expected to deliver $1 billion in sales in 2014 -- a mere eight years after its founding. For comparison, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) crossed the $1 billion mark five years after its founding, while Facebook achieved that milestone just six years after getting started.
Born to be mobile
For investors, Costolo's remarks on mobile were particularly intriguing. Despite only just having begun to run ads there, Costolo shared that Twitter has generated more advertising revenue from its mobile platform than from its website on several days recently. He believes that Twitter ads are "inherently suited to mobile" and that mobile revenue is "already doing delightfully well."
While Costolo was clearly contrasting Twitter's mobile success with Facebook's very public challenges in that area, this is also encouraging news for Internet companies in general. Google, LinkedIn (Nasdaq: LNKD ) , Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA ) , and many others join Facebook in trying to figure out mobile, so understanding what works there will be critical to all of their futures. At the D10 Conference last week, Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins was very optimistic about mobile monetization when she reported that the "data in Japan proves that the users can be monetized."
An amazing leader
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has described Dick Costolo as "an amazing leader" who deserves a lot of credit for developing Twitter's advertising model. After listening to the interview with Costolo, I came away very impressed with him and Twitter.
The company clearly has a solid business model, while also providing a wonderful service that brings the world closer together. As an illustration of the latter phenomenon, Costolo shared a wonderful story about how researchers from Johns Hopkins were able to track the spread of influenza by analyzing 2 billion public tweets. Twitter, according to its CEO, is always evolving in unknown ways that are often driven by its users. The company appears to have a very bright future, and it may be one of the leading pioneers in figuring out how to be profitable in the mobile era.
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