Twitter Hires Commerce Chief, Plans to Offer Shopping Tools

As part of its move into the online shopping space currently dominated by Amazon and eBay, Twitter has hired Nathan Hubbard as the company’s first head of commerce. Hubbard was president of Live Nation Entertainment’s Ticketmaster until earlier this month. Twitter plans to initially enter e-commerce by offering retailers tools for selling goods and services inside tweets. Forrester projects e-commerce will be a $370 billion market in the U.S. by 2017.

Hubbard, a Princeton grad with a business administration masters from Stanford, plans to team up with merchants and providers of payment services instead of competing with them.

“We’re going to go to people who have stuff to sell and help them use Twitter to sell it more effectively,” Hubbard said. “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.”

“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, analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco.

“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,” reports Bloomberg. “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.”

Entering the e-commerce space is Twitter’s next step toward achieving its sales target of $1 billion in 2014, and prepping for its IPO.

“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,” notes Bloomberg. “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.”