Twitter’s impending IPO won’t just create generational wealth for its founders and venture capital investors. It will also make rich people, “who had the wealth and means to get access to the stock,” even richer!
Bloomberg reports that Twitter stock has spread to buyers “ranging from large institutions like Morgan Stanley and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. to special investment funds set up for the rich and famous.”
More than 50 individuals and institutions now own shares through direct purchases, secondary sales and acquisitions, and hundreds more are invested through various funds. That group includes Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Group; actor Kutcher; and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said people with knowledge of the matter.
Last December, he bought a $300 million stake in Twitter on the secondary market from two early investors in the company, Union Square Ventures and JPMorgan Chase. He won’t say how much of Twitter he now owns, but he indicates that the reported valuation of $10 billion isn’t far off, giving him around three percent of the company.
But it’s not just billionaires and actor-capitalists. Silicon Valley insiders who were able to access to secondary shares will also benefit, like Josh Felser, who launched a $25 million fund called Earlybird “to buy secondary shares for outside investors.” Other backers, like Ron Conway and Chris Sacca were given "special rights by Twitter to buy stock when employees wanted to sell," because they brought in deep-pocketed investors.
Although some shareholders admit that luck played a role in their upcoming windfall, others credit the almighty "hustle." Naval Ravikant, the founder of AngelList and a major beneficiary of more lenient rules on crowdfunding, told Bloomberg:
“I heard about Twitter, saw the product, and hustled my way into the deal,” said Ravikant, whose stake is now worth more than $20 million.
That hustling included scoring a meeting with Williams at the Twitter office where Ravikant scribbled recommendations on a whiteboard for how the company could grow through viral marketing. The response was thanks but no thanks, Ravikant said, though they let him invest anyway.
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