Saudi Billionaire Prince Buys $300 Million Twitter Stake

Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud

Global media is reporting that Saudi Arabian Prince Walid bin Talal has bought a $300 million dollar stake in Twitter, the social-media giant. According to a New York Times report:

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.Twitter, meanwhile, is still shaping its business model. The service, which began selling ads in 2010, makes the bulk of its money from sponsored messages and accounts, in which companies pay to promote their brands through users’ feeds and landing pages.

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An earlier post reported on Prince bin Talal’s plans to partner with the Bloomberg news service to establish a new Arabic language news channel.

Previous posts have discussed Prince Talal’s donations to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), both part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, as well as his support of the Georgetown University Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CCMU), run by long-time Muslim Brotherhood supporter Dr. John Esposito. In 2008, an Arab business publication reported that Prince Talal had also made numerous financial contributions to a pan-Islamic interfaith dialog organization that is closely tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood and which has an antisemitic statement posted on its website. In March, the Kingdom Foundation established by Prince Talal was one of the sponsors of a conference held by the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP), a new international Islamic philanthropic organization with strong Muslim Brotherhood representation.

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