As reported on Mashable in early April Twitter and Facebook both had fantastic months in March – with Twitter posting 77% growth in that single month from an already sizeable base. See the chart below for US monthly unique figures for both sites.
Moreover, since then according to Techcrunch’s sources “close to the company” growth has accelerated to 40% per week and they now have 25m users.
When I read these numbers my first thought was to wonder whether their investors would prefer to see traffic growth at say half these levels, but with more progress on monetisation – particularly as there is an Indian Twitter look-alike is apparently making $150k per month. However, by the time I had reached the end of the Techcrunch piece I had my answer, as the latest (admittedly weak) rumours are that Apple is in talks to buy the business for $700m. (As an interesting aside the article also notes that the founders were partially cashed out in the last round so they are now “fully aligned” with their investors – a concept we have been pushing here for some time and one that contributed to the success of buy.at.)
That said, I think that for all but the most exciting social media brands (which is probably limited to Twitter and Facebook right now) I think that it is preferable to be mid-sized and profitable than large and loss-making. This is in contrast to the situation a couple of years ago when big exits were available for many high profile social media businesses that had yet to prove their business models. I don’t think those days will be back any time soon.