Twitter roadshow: less exuberance, more 'nuts and bolts'

Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:09pm EDT
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By Olivia Oran and Nicola Leske

NEW YORK (Reuters) - During the roadshow leading up to Facebook Inc's initial public offering a year-and-a-half ago, New York's institutional investors were greeted by snaking queues, beefed up police presence, and a media feeding frenzy.

By those standards, Silicon Valley put forward a much more low-key contender on Wednesday, when Twitter Inc hosted a luncheon for about 600 prospective investors at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City.

After presenting two forms of ID, two guests from each investment firm were quietly led to their seats inside the cavernous ballroom on the 36th floor, overlooking Central Park. Some reporters waited to try to catch Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo, but he did not draw the kind of media circus that mobbed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last year.

While Facebook's CEO had shown up in a hooded sweatshirt and sneakers, Twitter's executives were clad in dark suits as they pitched investors over plates of pesto chicken salad and raspberry tart.

"I was expecting a lot of fanfare, like a wedding, but it's very nuts and bolts," said Akram Yosri, a managing partner at 3i Capital Group. "I like that very much. They're still in early stages of growth."

The luncheon was the first major event in an eight-day roadshow to promote Twitter's IPO, which seeks to sell up to $1.6 billion worth of shares in the loss-making social media company.

Investors who met with Twitter this week say they are optimistic about the deal, in part because they see little sign of the irrational exuberance that preceded Facebook's IPO.

Although also closely watched by Wall Street and Silicon Valley, Twitter's relatively conservative offering has differed from Facebook's $16 billion IPO in a panoply of ways, from its vastly smaller deal size, to a decision to list on the New York Stock Exchange over Nasdaq and down to the personal styles of the CEOs.   Continued...

The shadows of people holding mobile phones are cast onto a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel