Twitter IPO makes Suhail Rizvi a billionaire, three times over

November 11, 2013

An alumni of Wharton business school hits the jackpot.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Twitter’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) has made Indian American venture capitalist Suhail Rizvi a billionaire.

Rizvi and his company, Rizvi Traverse Management, made an investment in the social media company during its early days, amounting to a stake between 15.6% and 17.9%. By the end of Thursday, when the company went public, shares of Twitter were selling at $44.90, meaning that Rizvi’s shares were worth $3.8 billion.

A notoriously private man, Rizvi went about getting shares of Twitter by negotiations with angel investors such as Google’s Chris Sacca, and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. Through these dealings, which occurred back in 2010, Rizvi became the company’s largest outside shareholder.

Now, Rizvi is reaping the rewards.

Twitter’s IPO is the second-highest ever by a social media company, both in terms of proceeds earned ($2.1 billion, beaten only by Facebook’s $16 billion) and opening-day share price performance (after opening the day at $26 per share, it closed at $44.90, an increase of 72.7% — only LinkedIn beats it with 109.4%). Today, on its third day of trading, the company is currently selling for $42.16 per share.

Originally from India, Rizvi was five years old when he and his parents moved the US in 1971. Razvi’s father, Raza, was a psychology professor at Ellsworth Community College, located in Iowa Falls. Both Rizvi and his brother Ashraf attended University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, where Rizvi earned his bachelor’s degree in economics.

Rizvi has been involved with various business ventures throughout his professional career. From 1986 to 1991, he was a financial analyst at MIG Companies, and from 1991 to 1995, he was the founder and principal at Suntel, Inc.

In 1995, he bought into a Puerto Rican telephone manufacturing company, helping to increase annual revenue from $10 million to $450 million, an early indicator of his rather astonishing business savvy tactics. He has been a director at Doublespace Holdings since 1999, a chairman and director of JN Industries since 2002, and a director at Digital Lifestyles Group Inc.

His interests also extend into the entertainment industry. Early last decade, he had a controlling interest in the International Creative Management talent agency, and even had a controlling interest in Summit Entertainment, the studio behind hits like The Hurt Locker and the Twilight franchise. He sold his stage to Lionsgate Entertainment for $400 million. Rizvi even played a role in helping Hugh Hefner buy back Playboy Magazine and take it private.

He is now the Chief Investment Officer at Rizvi Traverse Management LLC. He’s also a partner at Emerald Venture Capital.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com


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