Twitter IPO Means Nothing to the Guy on the Street

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Twitter IPO Means Nothing to the Guy on the Street

Twitter IPO is hot, until it misses its earnings. I showed up late. That’s not something you’re supposed to do at an IPO opening.

I rolled out of the 2 train subway stop that opens directly onto Wall Street and walked up, towards the epic, caterwauling sh*tshow that is Wall Street on any given day. There is an almost tangible air of inertia around the building; the only people on Wall Street actually doing any business are tourists and tour guides. People are milling around and it’s starting to rain.

Attempting to outfox a security guard, I walk up to the press gate and flash what was actually my driver’s license, but what I hoped he’d think was a press pass. No dice.

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“Can’t get in this way,” he says.
“But I’m press.”
“All the press are on the inside,” he says, “You’re just a guy on the street.”
“Well, yeah.”

There’s little to do but, well, tweet. I try and hit up a small army of media types, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, anyone to see if I can get in. No avail. I start to daydream as to what my life could have been like if I’d never fallen into media. Maybe I’d be a lobster fisherman. Those guys never had to deal with f*cking press passes.

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What people neglect to tell you about Wall Street is that finance people are rarely walking around amongst the rest of us. They’re up in their buildings, looking down. They drive short distances in black cars with tinted windows. It’s all the fun of a Hollywood nightclub without the alcohol or the chances of getting laid. Instead, people behind closed doors are getting richer than you and I will ever be, in just a matter of minutes. With my hands over the security fence, I knew I was about 50 feet or so from newly minted billionaires, those who hadn’t even invented the service, those who had simply been in the room with people, those who had contributed an idea somewhere along the line that had incrementally pushed Twitter towards the $1.8b mark. You know who invented Twitter? Noah Glass. But where was he today? Nowhere. Twitter figurehead and Dior-wearing man-about-town Jack Dorsey was in there. Heck, he helped ring the bell. It was sort of like having the guy who put the parsley on the side get all the credit for cooking the steak. And besides: Twitter has yet to make any money. It’s a valuable service, but how can you truly monetize simple communication? Were the users getting any money? F*ck no. Not today, thank you very much, kindly. The 280,000,000 Twitter users wouldn’t be seeing a cent out of this. And yet they were the ones that actually made the service. The whole event, the whole IPO, seemed wildly out of proportion to what was actually happening with the rest of the world and the people that actually used it.

I walked to another security gate. There were two people manning that entrance: a portly white police officer who looked as if he’d just seconds ago jumped out of a comic book, and an affable-looking older black dude in security garb. Thankfully, he approached me first.

“Hey man.”
“You press?” he said.
“Yeah.”
“It started at 9.”
“Yeah, I know. Can I get in anyway?”
He laughed.
“Aw, hell no. There ain’t no way you’re getting in unless you’re invited,” he said.
“How do I get invited?”
“The media were invited guest,” he said, “They’re inside. The big networks. They’re all in.”
“No chance I can get in and see what’s going on?”
He leaned in a little closer.
“Let me put it this way, guy. All that money, that affects us? We’re out here. They’re on the inside making…”

His radio interrupted him.

“OK,” he said, back to the radio. “Anyway, you get the picture.”

I thanked him for his time.

I sat on the steps of Federal Hall, kitty-cornered from the NYSE. There were some union carpenters protesting construction, unrelated to the Twitter IPO. Come to think of it, only myself and a gaggle of Chinese tourists seemed interested in the Twitter IPO in the first place.

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“Hey, man. I’m doing a story on this Twitter thing,” I said to one of the guys.
“Yeah? What’s that?” said one of the carpenters, a Hispanic dude in his late 20s.
“It’s a social medi-”
“I know what Twitter is,” he said, “I just don’t understand what the IPO really is. How much they selling it for?”

I half-remembered some bullsh*t I’d heard on the radio as I’d been haphazardly putting on my shoes earlier that morning.

“Do you use Twitter?” I asked, “You know, maybe to get the message out about your protest.”
“Nah, we’re old school. We actually talk to people to make a difference.”

“They’re selling shares for $26, I think.”
“Huh.”
“Do you use Twitter?” I asked, “You know, maybe to get the message out about your protest.”
“Nah, we’re old school. We actually talk to people to make a difference.”
“Huh?” I said.

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There was nothing else to report. It was really starting to rain now. I thought to myself that I should get a coffee. I moved to a little truck selling coffee and bagels to blue-collar workers.

Finance doesn’t mean sh*t to the man on the street, I thought, paying for my coffee with quarters.

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