San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. posted on its official Twitter account that it has "confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO."
The documents Twitter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission are sealed, as Twitter is taking advantage of federal legislation passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year to avoid submitting public IPO documents.
The confidentiality will likely help Twitter avoid the public hoopla and intense scrutiny that surrounded the initial public offerings of other high-profile social networking companies, including Facebook Inc., which went public in May 2012.
Under the law, Twitter's financial statements and other sensitive information contained in the IPO filing must become publicly available at least 21 days before company's executives begin traveling around the country to meet with potential investors - a process known as a "road show."
Twitter's IPO has been long expected. The company has been ramping up its advertising products and working to boost ad revenue in preparation. But it is still tiny compared with Facebook, which saw its hotly anticipated IPO implode last year amid worries about its ability to grow mobile ad revenue.
Most of Twitter's revenue comes from advertising. Research firm eMarketer estimates that Twitter will generate $582.8 million in worldwide ad revenue this year, up from $288.3 million in 2012. By comparison, Facebook had ad revenue of $1.6 billion in the April-June quarter of this year. By 2015, Twitter's annual ad revenue is expected to hit $1.33 billion.
Twitter is planning its public offering at a time of heightened investor interest in the IPO market. There have been 131 IPOs that have priced so far this year, according to IPO tracking firm Renaissance Capital. That's a 44 percent increase from the same period the year before. If the momentum continues, 2013 will have the most IPO pricings since 2007 -a year before the financial crisis.
The law that allowed Twitter to file its initial IPO documents confidentially is called the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act. President Barack Obama signed the law in 2012. It is designed to make it easier for small businesses and startups to grow and create jobs.
The law includes a provision that allows a company with revenue below $1 billion to file its registration statement for an initial public offering of stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission confidentially. This allows the paperwork to remain private until 21 days before the company starts marketing the deal to investors.