This past week I heard two rational arguments on the fate of Twitter from two smart investors.
One was an argument that it'll likely fail in its bid to become a public company. The logic went like this: Facebook, Groupon and Zynga have proven the private markets are fundamentally horrible at valuing companies.
In the early stages, that doesn't particularly matter. But when you get into pre-IPO secondary shares being bought and sold, it does. Just ask the people who bought pre-IPO shares of all three of those companies.
Twitter – with its relative lack of a business – was always a more dubious growth bet than those other three, buoyed by the sheer strength of its product.
And now, there's just no way it's worth anything close to the $8-billion it was valued at at the last round, this person argued. If Facebook, Groupon and Zynga have all had a greater than 50 percent haircut – Twitter can't even dream of going public now.
This doesn't mean Twitter is going under. The company has enough cash to grind it out, and it could always raise more money – albeit a larger valuation might prove a challenge until some of the questions around its business model are answered.
But odds are, this person argued, in this new public market reality, with Twitter's business still very much TBD, the company will sell for less than its last valuation to a Google or a Microsoft.
The other argument was for why Twitter is in a far better position than Facebook. This had to do less with its current revenues or valuations, and more with future prospects.
Twitter's ads – while nascent – just work better, this person argued. Twitter is a simpler product (or will be, now that it's asserting more control over how users interact with it), and when inserted in a stream responsibly, people don't tune their ads out the way they do on Facebook.
Also, unlike Facebook, its audience transitioning from Web-to-mobile isn't a problem for its business. Twitter has always been heavily mobile. Its ad products can work equally well on either.
Neither of these investors had a clear agenda. One of these arguments was made by someone invested in both Twitter and Facebook, one was argued by someone invested in neither.
Taken together, the conversations demonstrate something weird going on: Unlike the cases of Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, Silicon Valley people in the know have no f**king clue what to make of Twitter.
On page two... No company has ever defied the odds quite like Twitter...