Twitter hires ex-Ticketmaster CEO as commerce chief, fueling IPO buzz

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Twitter has named former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard as its first head of commerce, renewing speculation the microblogging platform is plotting an initial public offering.

Hubbard, who left Ticketmaster earlier this month, will spearhead Twitter's efforts to offer retailers tools for marketing goods and services inside tweets. Twitter is aiming to "get people in the moment to buy and to act on their passions," Hubbard told The Los Angeles Times. "That to me is the opportunity. I look at Twitter as one of the greatest discovery and distribution platforms in the world. Just as Twitter partnered with content owners to help them better distribute their content, we think about commerce the same way: How we can be a distribution and awareness partner."

Hubbard declined to confirm whether Twitter plans to establish partnerships with payment services providers or if it will develop its own payments processing platform. He also would not say whether Twitter would claim a cut of in-tweet transactions or how it expects to generate revenue via purchases.

Twitter has said it plans to drive $1 billion in revenues in 2014. The company has consistently waved off IPO speculation, but in recent weeks CEO Dick Costolo has promoted Ali Rowghani to COO and hired both Mike Gupta as vice president of corporate finance and treasurer and former Morgan Stanley executive Cynthia Gaylor as head of corporate development, fueling talk that Twitter is planning an IPO in the near future.

Last week, The New York Post reported that Costolo has met with bankers and could file IPO paperwork before the end of this year. Hubbard declined to comment on the possibility of Twitter going public: "The best part of not being CEO anymore is that I don't have to answer those questions anymore," he said. "I can claim blissful ignorance."

Twitter passed the 200 million monthly active user milestone in late 2012. Research firm comScore reports that 53.6 percent of unique Twitter users access the platform via mobile device.

For more:
- read this Los Angeles Times article
- read this Bloomberg article

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