Friday, February 13, 2009

You Know You're a Hot Company When You Raise Lots of Money (Without a Business Model)

The Web 2.0 microblogging-messaging platform everyone (or at least some of us) loves to obsess about has raised another $35 million.

Twitter has added Benchmark and Institutional Venture Partners to its list of investors, the company announced via a blog post today. Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures, which had previously invested in the company, have re-upped as well.

No details, of course, from Twitter about its current valuation. Last month the company was looking at raising $20 million or so at a valuation of $200 million to $250 million, and I’m told the new value is on the high side of that range.

The last time Twitter raised money, a little more than a year ago, investors pegged its value at just under $100 million. What’s changed since then? Well, it still doesn’t make any money. But it has many more users: The company says active users have increased 900 percent in the last year; comScore (SCOR) says the site’s home page now attracts 2.6 million unique a month, up 1,362 percent over the last year.

Anyone who’s ever read anything about Twitter knows that the company still has no revenue and/or business model–I just mentioned it one paragraph ago! So no need to go into that here. But for the record, note that co-founder Biz Stone, at the end of his funding announcement, says the company will indeed use some of its new money to go make…money: “We are now positioned extremely well to support the accelerating growth of our service, further enable the robust ecosystem sprouting up around Twitter, and yes, to begin building revenue-generating products.”

And for a nice summary of the company’s promise and peril, check out this week’s New York magazine. Money quote, literally, from CEO Evan Williams: “We have a product, and we’re working on it,” Williams said, with more than a hint of exasperation. “The money will come.”