Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia has taken a $300 million stake in the social media start-up Twitter, adding an emerging brand name to an international investment portfolio that largely includes established giants like Apple, Citigroup and Walt Disney.
Although the billionaire investor has long been known for taking stakes in stalwarts, the Twitter deal focuses on the next generation of blue-chip companies.
The five-year-old microblogging site, which now has more than 100 million active users, has quickly evolved into a ubiquitous communications tool, allowing individuals and companies to broadcast and share information in real-time. During the Arab Spring, revolutionaries embraced Twitter as a means to galvanize support and organize protests.
In his statement on Monday, the prince said the purchase was part of an effort to “invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact.”
Although Prince Walid does not seem to be a member of the social network, his wife, Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel is an avid user with more than 84,000 followers. On Monday, she sent out a Twitter message, calling her husband’s social networking investment “a great planned move.”
Along with Facebook and Zynga, Twitter is part of an elite group of Internet companies that has rapidly attracted users and raised money at multibillion-dollar valuations. Prince Walid purchased shares from early investors in Twitter, a deal that values the company at $8.4 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The investment by Prince Walid and his investment company Kingdom Holding is a strong vote of confidence for Twitter at a time when other Internet darlings are stumbling. At $8.4 billion, Twitter is now worth more than Zynga, the profitable gaming company that went public last week. Shares of Zynga have fallen roughly 10 percent from their offering price, putting its market value at $6.3 billion.
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