#Twitter business math: Counting backward from billions

July 16, 2009

1 billion 



$140,000,000 = Projected 2010 revenue in U.S. dollars according to Twitter February 2009 financial forecast leaked to TechCrunch. (*2)

100 million = Projected number of Twitter users in fourth quarter 2010 according to leaked spreadsheet. (*2)

75 million = Twitter members in May 2009 based on rough calculation of worldwide users, extrapolated from comScore and All Things D data (*3, *4)

$45,000,000 = Cash on hand in February 2009 raised from venture capital investors, less costs of operating the company. (*1, 2)

37,323,0000 = active Twitter users worldwide during month of May, 2009 – ComScore market research (*3)

$4,400,000 = Projected 2009 year revenue according to leaked spreadsheet. Q4 2009 revenue expected to reach $4 million. (*2)

3-4 million = Harvard Business Review study finds that 10 percent of Twitter users account for more than 90 percent of tweets (*5)

$2,100,000 = Estimated costs of running Twitter with 60 employees in Q3, 2009 according to February 2009 internal financial projection. (*2)

1 million = “There’s a million ways, if you are disseminating real-time info…(Twitter) could be commercially viable” – Twitter CEO (*6)

$400,000 = Twitter’s projected 2009 Q3 revenue in U.S. dollars, according to leaked spreadsheet. (*1, *2)

$1 = Cost of each user to Twitter (TechCrunch). (*1)

$0 = Twitter’s internal revenue projection for first half of 2009, according to internal forecast leaked to TechCrunch. (*2)



*1 TechCrunch article based on leaked Twitter corporate documents it says were sent to it this week by a hacker. The blog’s publisher, Michael Arrington, notes that membership figures and other assumptions are already out of date:

Twitter has told us that this was never an official document and it certainly is no longer accurate. But it gives an interesting glimpse into the company’s financial targets nonetheless.

Twitter confirmed some corporate documents were lost after an administrative employee’s account was hacked. It has not confirmed any leaked details.

*2 Screenshot of Twitter February 2009 internal Financial Forecast spreadsheet document leaked to TechCrunch.

Screenshot of leaked Twitter spreadsheet

*3 37.3 mln users worldwide – ComScore data May 2009. This includes 16 million U.s. users. Using different measurement methods, Compete.com estimated that Twitter had 23 million U.S. users in June.

ComScore May 2009 data

*4 A poll for the All Things D conference in May found 51 percent of U.S. Twitter users sign on less than once a month. Since comScore data only counts visitors older than 15 years old on a monthly basis, one can extrapolate that the 37.3 figure represents only the 49 percent of active users. The 75 million estimate combines active and inactive members who have signed up for an account but rarely or never visit Twitter. The poll surveyed 1,005 members of the U.S. general public and was conducted by by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates.

*5 Harvard Business Review May 2009 study of 300,000 Twitter users:

At the same time there is a small contingent of users who are very active. Specifically, the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets. On a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production … The pattern of contributions on Twitter is more concentrated among the few top users than is the case on Wikipedia, even though Wikipedia is clearly not a communications tool. This implies that Twitter’s resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.

HBR Twitter usage study

*6 Twitter Co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone interviewed at All Things D conference, May 2009.

Reuters story on document leak
Reuters commentary: Twitter should sell if it can

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