Twitter shares priced at $26 each

Twitter shares have been priced at $26 ahead of its debut on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Thursday.

That is above the $23 to $25 range announced on Monday and values the short messaging service at more than $18bn (£11bn).

That makes it the biggest market debut for a technology firm since Facebook went public in May 2012.

Twitter has attracted 230 million users since starting seven years ago, but is yet to make a profit.

Its losses for the third quarter of 2013 increased to $64.6m, from $21.6m a year earlier and a recent poll by Reuters/Ipsos showed that more than a third of registered users do not use the service at all.

‘Sweet spots’

Nevertheless there was strong demand for the shares and the company was able to raise the offering price twice.

Some analysts said that investors were excited by Twitter’s potential for growth.

“Investors see social media and mobile as sweet spots and it is therefore no surprise that Twitter’s IPO is creating so much excitement and is oversubscribed,” said Eden Zoller of consulting firm Ovum.

However, she added that “Twitter needs to step up and deliver on the expectations that are fuelling its valuation, and show that it has what it takes to provide a sustainable business model”.

The firm has posted an increase in its sales, which more than doubled in third quarter to $168.6m, and it is looking to raise even more revenue from advertisers outside the United States.

Mark Mahaney at RBC Capital Markets said that he expected the firm’s shares to rise after listing.

“Just as Google, Amazon and Facebook have become Internet utilities, so too may Twitter,” he said.

“As a public, real-time, conversational and distributed platform, Twitter is becoming an essential service for consumers, businesses, media companies, and advertiser.”

Rich men

Twitter’s $18bn valuation includes the value of shares in compensation schemes for employees and other share awards.

Co-founder Evan Williams is the biggest shareholder in the firm with a stake of more than 10% worth more than a billion dollars.

Another of the founders, Jack Dorsey will also become a very rich man. His 4% stake is worth more than half a billion dollars.

Biz Stone another co-founder is thought to have made millions by selling holdings over the last few years.

But Noah Glass, also one of the originals, is thought to have made very little from the company’s success.

NYSE debut

Twitter is selling 70 million shares, which will raise $1.82bn, for the company.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter has chosen to trade its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Facebook’s debut on the Nasdaq – traditionally the market of choice for technology firms – was marred by delays and problems with orders.

The NYSE has already tested trading of Twitter’s shares to try to avoid any technical hitches.

The shares will trade under the symbol “TWTR”.