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Twitter came to life on March 21, 2006, when the account of co-founder Jack Dorsey (@jack) automatically sent out the first tweet: "just setting up my twttr."
Dorsey followed up with the first "human-generated" tweet: "inviting coworkers." More than 350 billion tweets have since gone out worldwide from some 232 million active users, as of June. Some 77 percent are outside the United States.
Some facts about a global phenomenon:
- Pop star Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) leads the pack with more than 46.37 million followers, followed by Katy Perry (@katyperry) with 46.30 million and Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) with 40.36 million.
- US President Barack Obama (@barackobama) is fourth with 39 million followers. The announcement of his re-election victory in November 2012 was re-tweeted more than 800,000 times.
- Twitter is blocked in China and yet still has some 35 million users in the country, according to the research firm Global Web Index.
- Around three-fourths of Twitter users access the platform on a mobile device, and 70 percent of ad revenues come from mobile.
- Twitter documents show a loss of $133 million in the first nine months of 2013 on $422 million in revenue. In 2012, it lost $79 million on $317 million in revenue and has accumulated losses of $483 million since 2010.
- About five percent of Twitter accounts are believed to be fake, according to the company.
- The hashtag (#) feature on Twitter that groups tweets by subject debuted in August 2007, having been proposed by a user.
- A tweet is limited to 140 text characters, designed to fit easily in a standard text message of 160 characters.
- In October 2009, Google and Microsoft began integrating tweets into their search products.
- In January 2013, Twitter introduced Vine, which enabled users to make and tweet six-second looping videos. Some 12 million Vine videos are uploaded every day.
- Twitter is based in San Francisco, with additional employees in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington. Its total payroll exceeds 2,300 and says it "expects to grow head count for the foreseeable future."
- The IPO sets a value for Twitter of between $9.3 billion and $11.1 billion.
- Twitter was incorporated in April 2007, the month after it stole the show at the influential South by Southwest technology and indie music festival in Austin, Texas.
- It was co-founded by Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey -- @biz, @ev and @jack. Williams is the biggest shareholder with around 12 percent of Twitter capital.
- Asked by AFP in March 2011 why Twitter is such a hit, Stone replied: "A big part is that it is just very simple and connects people to other people they would not otherwise be connected to."
- The initial Twitter logo was created by Stone, a former graphic designer.
- Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo is a former improvisational comedian.