Peter Delevett of the San Jose Mercury News did some research tonight and got specific numbers on Twitter’s widely discussed mega-round of (even more) venture capital. Specifically, $800 million. Delevett says it’s the biggest VC round ever and while I’m not one to say authoritatively that the Merc is wrong about something VC related (they are experts on the subject) it does seem like a bold assertion to make: “the biggest ever.” A WSJ report by Scott Austin last January offers 3 examples of larger investments, including Groupon, Clearwire and the poor risk-takers-gone-wrong at Western Intergrated Networks, who turned $900m of investment into $12m in sold assets a few years later.
There are probably other examples and as people are telling me on Twitter – it really depends on your definition of Venture Capital.
Why It’s Smart
Regardless, I think that if anyone is going to break a record on funds raised, it’s ok with me that it’s Twitter. I don’t have the time or knowledge to put together a whole post about this on ReadWriteWeb, so instead some notes here.
* Twitter has revolutionized business and public communication in a historically unprecedented way. Never before has it been so easy for anyone to publish quick updates about what they are doing and for that to be read and passed around at scale, in real-time. That’s a really, really big deal.
* Businesses are scrambling to get to Twitter’s advertising products faster than the company can deliver them.
* Twitter comes up with really smart ways to do what it does, like its latest ad product – letting brands pay to have their Tweets show up at the top of the page any time someone who already follows them visits Twitter.com. That’s brilliant.
* This whole thing is just beginning. Twitter’s just beginning, but “social media” is all the more just at its beginning. At least, if you were someone with a huge amount of money made from the old economy, and if you could afford to gamble it on what appears to be a new economy emerging, to make a very serious bet seems like a respectable strategy to me.
Half of that money, reportedly, is going to buy out the hippies that created Twitter, leaving them wealthy enough to go innovate some more, possibly kicking off a PayPal-like wave of new world-changing startups.
The rest of that money is going to go, apparently, towards making Twitter all the more solid, important and ready to be the AT&T to Facebook’s Verizon and Google Plus’s Sprint, or whatever. These could well be the communication platforms of the future though, so I don’t think it’s stupid at all to throw a whole lot of money into them. If you’ve got it. And Digital Sky Technologies, the giant Russian company that’s put comparable sums into Facebook, Zynga and other companies has it. So why not?
This really isn’t my area of expertise, though, venture capital. Maybe there’s good reason to freak out – but I haven’t heard it yet.