Owning three percent of Twitter might not amount to a controlling stake, but when the Saudis start investing in social media you can bet that making money is not their only interest.
The New York Times reports: Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia announced a $300 million stake in the social media site Twitter, as the billionaire expands his holdings in the United States.
The investment by Prince Walid and his investment company, Kingdom Holding, represents roughly 3 percent of the company. Prince Walid, who owns 95 percent of Kingdom Holding, said in a statement that the purchase was part of a strategy “to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact.”
With Twitter, Prince Walid — who also own stakes in American blue chip companies including Citigroup, General Motors and Apple — gains a foothold in the fast-growing social networking space. The microblogging service, which has more than 100 million active users, is part of an elite group of Internet companies that have rapidly attracted users in recent years and that have garnered multi-billion dollar valuations.
Twitter has been increasingly popular in the Arab world, where it was credited with playing a role in the recent uprisings across North Africa and the Gulf. Arabic is now the fastest growing language used on Twitter, according to the data intelligence company Semiocast. The volume of Arabic messages increased by 2,146 percent in the 12 months ending in October.
“We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend,” Ahmed Reda Halawani, Kingdom Holding’s executive director of private equity and international investments, said in a statement.