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Twitter owes me $1. I'll take it now.

November 08, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • Twitter's IPO made some people very rich on Thursday. What about the rest of us?
Twitter's IPO made some people very rich on Thursday. What about the… (Richard Drew / Associated…)

True confession: I sometimes (OK, fine, often) waste a lot of time on dumb stuff.  Which probably explains my interest in Twitter.

You undoubtedly heard that Twitter had its IPO (that’s initial public offering for non-business-school types)  Thursday. It went well, as The Times reported: “Twitter sold 70 million shares at $26, raising $1.82 billion, making it the largest IPO from a U.S. technology company since Facebook last year.”

It also went well for the Big Tweets at Twitter, with the stock owned by cofounder Evan Williams, the company’s biggest individual shareholder, worth $2.56 billion based on Thursday’s closing price. Fellow cofounder and Chairman Jack Dorsey’s stake was valued at $1.05 billion and Chief Executive Dick Costolo’s at $344.6 million.

So they won the tech lotto, as did some other folks, including a Russian (or his company, at least) — venture capitalist Yuri Milner, whose 4.4% stake was valued at $1.07 billion. Somewhere — Red Square? — Lenin is rolling over in his grave.

But I know what you’re thinking: What about me? You, along with about 230 million others, are on Twitter (all the time, some of you, admit it), which means that you are helping those other guys get stinking rich.  

Coincidentally, over at Time, Chris Wilson (@chriswilsondc, naturally) was wondering the same thing. But unlike the rest of us, he put down his cellphone for more than five seconds and did something about it. He (OK, he probably had help [Updated 7:47 p.m. Friday: Mea culpa time: Wilson tells me — via a tweet, of course — that he did it all by his lonesome!] created a nifty tool so that you can figure out just how much Twitter owes you, the Twitter tweeter. Finally, news we can use!

Yes, it involves math. But no, you don’t have to do it; all you have to do is plug in your Twitter handle, click “DO THE MATH” and, voila!

You bet I tried it. And I’m not ashamed to say that Twitter owes me $1.

Sure, that’s a little less than some other folks. As Wilson points out, using Time’s formula, Justin Bieber is owed $20,916,384. Which might cover his Brazilian hotel room bill, with a little left over for his new Brazilian lady friend and videographer — provided he’s awake now.

Silly, you say? (The Twitter payback, not the Justin Bieber thing.) Well, why can’t capitalism cut both ways? Why shouldn’t the tweeters of the world unite and claim their fair share? Why not send Twitter a bill (in 140 characters or less, of course)?

Now, the truth is, I’m not really sold on this tech Twitter wave. Remember BlackBerry? Remember Blockbuster? Hot today, gone tomorrow, that’s the new way of the high-tech business world. That little bird logo may be a Dodo bird in 2016.

Why the skepticism? Perhaps because I’m hoping the world will heed the warnings of the late, visionary Stanford professor Clifford Nass. You should read the Times obituary on Nass, but because you’re probably too busy, here’s the key passage:

“Nass, a sociologist … was among the first academics to sound alarms about the dangers of chronic multitasking and the decline in the kind of face-to-face interactions that he so unabashedly enjoyed with students and colleagues.”

So, just to be safe, I’ll take my money now, Twitter.

Like the NSA, and Google, and AT&T, and Amazon, I’m sure you know where to find me.

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Follow Paul Whitefield on Twitter @PaulWhitefield1 and Google +

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