Multi-Billion Dollar Gain For Twitter Investor Suhail Rizvi

Suhail Rizvi's 15.6% stake in Twitter was worth $3.8 billion at the end of trading on Thursday when the social media company went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Suhail Rizvi Photo Courtesy: Valley Wag
Suhail Rizvi was born in India and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School. He started and sold a telecom company soon after, and with the proceeds financed the buy-out of an electronic manufacturing business of a Puerto Rico phone company whose annual revenue he boosted from $10 million to $450 million by focusing on higher end products, according to Times of India.

Suhail Rizvi moved with his parents to the United States in 1971 when he was only five. His father Raza Rizvi taught psychology at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, where Suhail and his brother Ashraf, who is a hedge fund manager, went to school.

In addition to Rizvi Traverse Capital's  $3.82 billion, other big winners of Twitter IPO include Evan Williams $2.55 billion,  JP Morgan $2.19 billion,  Spark Capital  $1.46 billion,   Benchmark Capital $1.42 billion, USV $1.25 billion,  DST Global $1.07 billion,  Jack Dorsey $1.05 billion,   Dick Costolo $344 million, and Adam Bain $80 million.

Rizvi Traverse's other major investments include a controlling interest in Playboy and music rights organization Sesac, as well as stakes in news app Flipboard and Jack Dorsey's digital payments company, Square. Sources told CNBC that Rizvi invested $100 million in Facebook before its IPO and sold its shares earlier this year. It also has sold its equity stake in talent agency ICM, and in "Twilight" producer Summit Entertainment, which sold to Lionsgate.

Rizvi's biggest individual client is Prince Waleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia who invested $300 million pre-IPO in Twitter through Rizvi Traverse. Rizvi also invested JP Morgan Chase's $400 million pre-IPO in Twitter. Rizvi is reported to have used personal connections in Silicon Valley to purchase these stakes from Twitter employees.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's a WSJ story on how some people are using fake twitter accounts to boost their "followers":

One day earlier this month, Jim Vidmar bought 1,000 fake Twitter accounts for $58 from an online vendor in Pakistan.

He then programmed the accounts to "follow" the Twitter account of rapper Dave Murrell, who calls himself Fyrare and pays Mr. Vidmar to boost his standing on the social network. Mr. Vidmar's fake accounts also rebroadcast Mr. Murrell's tweets, amplifying his Twitter voice.

Mr. Murrell says he sometimes buys Twitter ads to raise his profile, "but you'll get more with Jim." He says many Twitter users try to make their followings look bigger than they are. "If you're not padding your numbers, you're not doing it right," he says. "It's part of the game."

Mr. Vidmar offers a window into the shadowy world of false accounts and computerized robots on Twitter, one of the world's largest social networks. Surrounded by a dozen computers at his home overlooking a golf course near the Las Vegas Strip, Mr. Vidmar has been buying fake accounts and unleashing them on Twitter for six years.

Today, he says he manages 10,000 robots for roughly 50 clients, who pay Mr. Vidmar to make them appear more popular and influential.

His are among millions of fake accounts on Twitter. Mr. Vidmar and other owners manage them to simulate Twitter users: they tweet; retweet, or forward, other tweets; send and reply to messages; and follow and unfollow other Twitter accounts, among other actions.

Some entertainers pay for fake followers. But false accounts can be political tools as well. In 2011, thousands of fake accounts disrupted anti-Kremlin protesters on Twitter.

The fake accounts remain a cloud over Twitter Inc. in the wake of its successful initial public offering. "Twitter is where many people get news," says Sherry Turkle, director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. "If what is trending on Twitter is being faked by robots, people need to know that. This will and should undermine trust."
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Mr. Ding, the Barracuda Labs researcher, says the fake-account market is "going very strong." He and other researchers say Twitter doesn't appear to be applying the Berkeley researchers' techniques to root out other fake accounts.

Mr. Vidmar's robots have helped make his clients "trending topics" on Twitter, giving them special mention on Twitter users' home pages. The trending topics appear just below the "promoted trend" that the company sells for as much as $200,000 a day. The trending topics aren't marked as "sponsored," so they appear more genuine.

Rapper Tony Benson says hiring Mr. Vidmar to promote his account on Twitter is "the best decision I ever made." Mr. Vidmar's robots made the rapper, known as Philly Chase, a trending topic so often around Philadelphia that he attracted attention from local newspapers. Prominence on Twitter led to gigs, fans and ways to promote his videos, Mr. Benson says.

Mr. Vidmar uses software to follow tens of thousands of accounts for his clients, another tactic Twitter prohibits. Being followed prompts many Twitter users to return the favor, and follow his clients.

In September, Mr. Vidmar used software to follow more than 100,000 Twitter users in a week for the Australian rock band The Contagious; that boosted the band's following by 20,000.

The band has a "verified" account, meaning it has taken extra steps to prove to Twitter that the account is real.


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304607104579212122084821400
Riaz Haq said…
#Playboy Magazine to Drop Nudity as #Internet Fills Demand. #SiliconValley's Suhail Rizvi Owns Majority Stake Now. http://nyti.ms/1VOZpR9

Playboy, which had gone public in 1971, was taken private again in 2011 by Mr. Hefner with Rizvi Traverse Management, an investment firm founded by Suhail Rizvi, a publicity-shy Silicon Valley investor, who has interests in Twitter, Square and Snapchat among others. The firm now owns over 60 percent. Mr. Hefner owns about 30 percent (some shares are held by Playboy management).


The magazine is profitable if money from licensed editions around the world is taken into account, Mr. Flanders said, but the United States edition loses about $3 million a year. He sees it, he said, as a marketing expense. “It is our Fifth Avenue storefront,” he said.

He and Mr. Jones feel that the magazine remains relevant, not least because the world has gradually adopted Mr. Hefner’s libertarian views on a variety of social issues. Asked whether Mr. Hefner’s views on women were the exception to that rule, Mr. Flanders responded that Mr. Hefner had “always celebrated the beauty of the female figure.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Mr. Jones said of the decision to dispense with nudity, “12-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it’s the right thing to do.”

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As part of a redesign that will be unveiled next March, the print edition of Playboy will still feature women in provocative poses. But they will no longer be fully nude.

Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. “That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance.

Playboy’s circulation has dropped from 5.6 million in 1975 to about 800,000 now, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Many of the magazines that followed it have disappeared. Though detailed figures are not kept for adult magazines, many of those that remain exist in severely diminished form, available mostly in specialist stores. Penthouse, perhaps the most famous Playboy competitor, responded to the threat from digital pornography by turning even more explicit. It never recovered.

Previous efforts to revamp Playboy, as recently as three years ago, have never quite stuck. And those who have accused it of exploiting women are unlikely to be assuaged by a modest cover-up. But, according to its own research, Playboy’s logo is one of the most recognizable in the world, along with those of Apple and Nike. This time, as the magazine seeks to compete with younger outlets like Vice, Mr. Flanders said, it sought to answer a key question: “if you take nudity out, what’s left?”


It is difficult, in a media market that has been so fragmented by the web, to imagine the scope of Playboy’s influence at its peak. A judge once ruled that denying blind people a Braille version of it violated their First Amendment rights. It published stories by Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami among others, and its interviews have included Malcolm X, Vladimir Nabokov, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jimmy Carter, who admitted that he had lusted in his heart for women other than his wife. Madonna, Sharon Stone and Naomi Campbell posed for the magazine at the peak of their fame. Its best-selling issue, in November of 1972, sold more than seven million copies.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/business/media/nudes-are-old-news-at-playboy.html

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