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Twitter Hires Commerce Chief to Add Shopping Via Tweets

A file photo shows Twitter Inc.'s first head of commerce Nathan Hubbard, then chief executive officer of Ticketmaster, speaking at the International Entertainment Buyers Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on October 4, 2011. Photographer: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA
A file photo shows Twitter Inc.'s first head of commerce Nathan Hubbard, then chief executive officer of Ticketmaster, speaking at the International Entertainment Buyers Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on October 4, 2011. Photographer: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA

Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. hired Nathan Hubbard, the former president of Ticketmaster, as its first head of commerce, part of a push to enable shopping via short postings on its social website.

Hubbard, 38, started at San Francisco-based Twitter this week, said Jim Prosser, a spokesman for the online social service. As commerce chief, Hubbard will report to Adam Bain, Twitter’s head of global revenue. Hubbard left Live Nation Entertainment Inc.’s Ticketmaster unit earlier this month amid an overhaul of its online services.

Twitter is entering a space dominated by Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Inc. as it seeks new sources of revenue to reach its sales target of $1 billion in 2014, and prepares for a potential initial public offering. In its first foray into e-commerce, projected by Forrester Research Inc. to be a $370 billion market in the U.S. by 2017, Twitter plans to offer retailers tools for selling goods and services inside tweets.

“It makes a lot of sense for Twitter, since a lot of online advertising is commerce related, and as a platform, they should be able to integrate more closely with online retailers,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco.

Hubbard said he will look to team up with merchants and providers of payment services rather than compete with those companies, and may take a percentage of any transactions on its site.

Online Shopping

“We’re going to go to people who have stuff to sell and help them use Twitter to sell it more effectively,” Hubbard said in an interview. “One of the hallmarks of Twitter’s entire approach has been partnering. We’re going to take the same approach with owners of physical and digital goods.”

Hubbard, a Princeton University graduate with a masters in business administration from Stanford University, was formerly a touring and recording artist, and has released five albums.

By enabling shopping via Twitter’s site and mobile applications, the company is seeking to keep users on the site for longer and to learn more about their interests. Data about online-shopping habits would be valuable to advertisers, who contribute the bulk of Twitter’s estimated $582.8 million in ad sales this year, according to EMarketer Inc.

Earlier this month, Twitter said it’s working with research firm Datalogix Inc. to track when advertisements on the site, called Promoted Tweets, lead to purchases in brick-and-mortar stores.

Management Team

While Twitter Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo has said that management isn’t concentrating on an IPO, the company is widely predicted to hold a share sale before long to help it bankroll expansion, and give some early investors a way to realize financial gains on their holdings.

The CEO has bolstered his management team, promoting Ali Rowghani to chief operating officer, adding finance veteran Mike Gupta and hiring former Morgan Stanley executive Cynthia Gaylor to run corporate development.

At Ticketmaster, Hubbard had been overseeing a $75 million overhaul of the unit’s online technology to make the service easier to use for consumers and venue owners. He joined Live Nation in 2006 after the concert promoter bought a majority of Musictoday, an online merchandising company where Hubbard was CEO.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Erlichman in Los Angeles at jerlichman1@bloomberg.net; Douglas MacMillan in San Francisco at dmacmillan3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net; Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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