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Twitter IPO: three tech managers on the social media site's promise

Twitter IPO: three tech managers on the social media site's promise

Polar Capital's Ben Rogoff and Nick Evans believe that Twitter epitomises the 'promise' of big data and that the social media network has cleared the hurdle of monetising mobile traffic.

Following the announcement that Twitter had lodged its IPO plans with America's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Polar Capital Tech duo said that while investors may be overlooking the significant secular growth potential of a number of new names, they believe that Twitter is in a strong position.

'Facebook's significantly improved mobile monetisation last quarter is clearly helpful for investor sentiment towards the social media space,' said Evans, pointing out that Facebook's advertising revenues now represents 41% of its total.

'Twitter has an information advantage because it is the first to see most news and its proprietary algorithms can recognise trends and comments around the data. Combined with location, device and personal information, this has significant value in areas such as advertising, e-commerce, search and predictive analytics.'

Rogoff said that Twitter was symbolic of the big data movement currently sweeping the globe. Vast quantities of information can initially seem useless he said, but can end up being extremely valuable.

Rogoff (pictured) said: 'Just as new tools and open pit mining made it possible to extract value from low grade iron ore, so open-sourced tools pioneered by internet companies (such as Hadoop and NoSQL) are enabling value to be extracted from massive datasets of seemingly low-grade information such as tweets.'

Big data is a core theme running through the Polar Capital Global Technology fund and the Polar Capital Technology Trust. Rogoff added that companies' ability to process huge amounts of near-real time information could have significant implications for knowledge workers around the globe.

He said this is because emerging analytics tools have the power to improve decision making, leading to better judgement calls than relying on 'gut feeling' and theories surrounding probability alone.

Secret filing

Jeremy Gleeson, who runs the AXA Framlington Global Technology fund, said that it was too early to make a decision regarding Twitter's intention to float, but said he was willing to do the due diligence to understand its $10 billion (around £6 billion) valuation and processes.

Partly, Gleeson explained this was down to Twitter's IPO plans being filed secretly, but also because it was a surprise event that many analysts had been expecting some 12 months further down the line.

'I was surprised it came so soon but it feels like there's a more buoyant IPO market, especially for technology companies, so maybe they decided to pull it forward,' Gleeson said.

He also touched on the Facebook float, and described it as a 'debacle', though added that he hoped Twitter's bankers had learned lessons from the difficulties the social networking site endured.

Performance

Both the open-end Polar Capital Global Technology fund and the AXA Framlington Global Technology vehicle have delivered comparable returns over the last three years.

According to Citywire data, over the 36 months to the end of July Rogoff and Evans have returned 43.3% versus a 44.2% rise in the FTSE AW/Technology TR Index.

Gleeson's fund has also delivered slightly over 43%, while the closed-end Polar Capital Technology Trust has seen its share price gain 50.1% over three months to the end of August, and its net asset value per ordinary share climb by 46.3%. 

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