Jon Swartz, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO (USA TODAY) - All the signs were there.
For weeks, Twitter officials were mum about an imminent initial public offering while the company hired a stock administration analyst and posted a job for a financial reporting manager, as reported by our Scott Martin.
Top Twitter execs were downright submissive about an IPO. CEO Dick Costolo said it was not a focus, while co-founder and creator Jack Dorsey told Bloomberg Twitter is "not even thinking" of an IPO.
IPO: Twitter tweets that it has filed to sells shares to public
That all changed today, when Twitter filed paperwork to become the biggest consumer Internet stock offering since Facebook's IPO belly-flopped in May 2012.
Now comes the hard part.
The 7-year-old Twitter - which has raised $1.6 billion and has 1,300 employees - dives smack dab into a dicey climate.
Its planned IPO comes amid a dearth of tech public offerings. Just one in six new U.S. listings this year have been tech-related stocks, making 2013 potentially the second-worst showing in 20 years, according to data provider Dealogic. At the height of the dot-com boom, in 1999, 69% of all IPOs were technology or Internet companies.
The 22 tech-related U.S. IPOs this year - out of 134 - have raised $3.4 billion.
Tech's lag is a clear byproduct of Facebook's disappointing IPO debut in May 2012. Before it, Zynga stumbled out of the IPO gate in December 2011. "Facebook was a big, big hope for the sector," says Eric Carlborg, a partner at August Capital.
Twitter could trigger more tech-centric public offerings, including long-rumored IPOs for social-gaming company King.com and storage services Box and Dropbox in 2014.
While valued at $10 billion, Twitter must prove - financially and culturally - that it has the right tech stuff to match that figure on its balance sheet. It has roughly $1 billion in annual revenue.
Let the hype begin.