NEW YORK — Twitter has unsealed the documents for its planned initial public offering of stock and says it hopes to raise up to $1 billion in one of the year's most eagerly awaited stock market debuts.
The documents revealed for the first time how much money the social networking company makes. Founded in 2006, Twitter has never turned a profit and has an uninterrupted history of losses totaling $419 million since its inception. But its revenue is growing.
Twitter disclosed three weeks ago that it filed confidential papers to start the IPO process. The company was taking advantage of federal legislation passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue in its previous fiscal year to avoid submitting public IPO documents.
On Thursday, Twitter Inc. unsealed the papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Twitter was required to unseal its documents at least three weeks before it starts holding events around the country to woo potential investors.
According to the IPO filings, Twitter generated $317 million in revenue in 2012 and had more than 218 million active users in the second quarter, up 44 percent from a year earlier. That compares with nearly 1.2 billion for Facebook and 240 million for LinkedIn.
Three-quarters of Twitter users accessed the service from a mobile device in the second quarter, and 65 percent of its advertising revenue was generated from mobile in the same period.
Twitter also said that it lost $69.3 million in the first six months of 2013, compared with a loss of $49.1 million in the same period last year. Revenue more than doubled to $254 million from $122 million.
Gartner analyst Brian Blau said the company's expenditures “seemed to be a little bit higher than what I had imagined,” but he said it wasn't “totally out of whack” for a growing company that's investing a lot in its business.
During the first six months of 2013, Twitter got nearly all of its revenue — 87 percent — from advertising. Advertisers pay Twitter to insert their tweets, accounts or topics into users' feeds.
Twitter's potential has minted the company with an estimated market value of $10 billion.
A big part of Twitter's appeal is in its simplicity. Users send short messages that consist of up to 140 characters. Anyone can “follow” anyone else, but the relationship doesn't have to be reciprocal, which makes the service especially attractive for celebrities and companies that use Twitter to communicate directly with customers.
Twitter has 2,000 employees, up from 200 at the start of 2010.
Twitter did not say which stock exchange it plans to list its shares on, though the company said it intends to use the ticker symbol “TWTR.”