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[liberationtech] Saudi Prince invests $300mn in Twitter
Daniel Isaiah Ong
danielo at cs.stanford.edu
Mon Dec 19 03:26:05 PST 2011
Saudi Prince Invests $300 Million in TwitterBY MARK
LONDON — The Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal and his investment company,
Kingdom Holding, said Monday they had bought a “strategic stake” in the
social media site Twitter for $300 million.
The investment represents roughly 3 percent stake of the company, based in
San Francisco, which was valued at $8 billion in August.
In a statement, Prince Walid, who owns 95 percent of Kingdom Holding, said
the purchase was part of a strategy “to invest in promising, high-growth
businesses with a global impact.”
Despite ongoing volatility in the financial markets, investors have shown
continued interest in Internet companies. Last week, the social network
gaming company Zynga raised $1 billion in an initial public offering, while
Groupon, the daily deals site, raised $700 million from the markets in
Kingdom Holding stock was up about 6 percent in midday trading in Riyadh.
Prince Walid, who also own stakes in U.S. blue chip companies such as
Citigroup, General Motors and Apple, is the nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King
Abdullah. He also is one the of the Arab world’s richest men, with assets
worth an estimated $21 billion, according to Arabian Business magazine.
The investment in Twitter comes after the company’s co-founder Biz Stone
announced in June that he would be stepping back from the fast-growing
social media. Twitter’s other co-founder, Evan Williams, was replaced by
the current chief executive Dick Costolo last year.
Despite the management shake-up, Twitter has continued to gain traction,
particularly in the Arab world, where it was credited with playing a role
in the recent popular uprisings across North Africa and the Gulf.
Arabic is now the fastest growing language used on Twitter, according to
the data intelligence company Semiocast.
The volume of Arabic messages, for example, has multiplied by 2,146 percent
in the 12 months ending in October, according to figures from Semiocast.
That makes Arabic the eighth most used language on the site.
“We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry
landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetize this
positive trend,” Ahmed Reda Halawani, Kingdom Holding’s executive director
of private equity and international investments, said in a statement.
The website currently has over 100 million active users, and raised
approximately $400 million of new capital last summer. That investment was
led by DST Global, the investment firm headed by the Russian billionaire
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