Alwaleed’s US$300m stake in Twitter is belief in media’s future

19 Dec 2011

The decision by Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and Kingdom Holding to make a US$300m strategic investment in Twitter is based on the prince’s instinct that social media will transform the entire media landscape in the years ahead.

“Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact,” Prince Alwaleed said.

The prince and his investment team clearly believe Twitter and social media in general will transform the media landscape going forward. What is interesting is the faith they have in Twitter’s ability to monetise sooner rather than later.

Ahmed Halawani, KHC executive director of Private Equity and International Investments, expressed the rationale behind the investment: “We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetise this positive trend.”

In August, Twitter raised additional investment from DST Global, which valued it at US$8bn.

In recent weeks, Twitter redesigned its overall structure to make the service more sticky for users. As part of the redesign, Twitter has introduced enhanced profile or ‘brand’ pages that in its own words allows marketers to create “an even more compelling destination on Twitter for their brands.”

A prince among Tweets

Prince Alwaleed has a strong presence and influence in media through his investments in media and entertainment in the Arab world and beyond, like the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), in which Kingdom Holding holds a 29.9pc stake.

The publications that fall under SRMG include Asharq Al Awsat, Al Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Hia magazine, Al Majalla magazine, Arrajol magazine and Sayidati magazine. Furthermore, other entities that fall under SRMG are Al Khaleejiya for Publicity Advertising and Public Relations and Al Madina Printing and Publishing Company. Furthermore, KHC is owner of about 7pc of News Corporation’s Class B Common Stock.

Prince Alwaleed recently announced his plans to launch his privately owned Alarab news channel.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years