Twitter Stock Rises 73 Percent in Market Debut

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

The two co-founders and CEO have a combined $4 billion worth of stock in the social media company after its IPO Thursday.

Twitter saw its shares surge 78 percent in their debut Thursday. 

The stock opened at $45.10 after the social media company priced its shares at $26 each on Wednesday evening. 

Before trading in the stock officially started more than an hour and 15 minutes after Thursday's opening bell, indications from the trading floor had been for a first trade in the $40-plus range. They were then increased further.

The debut on the New York Stock Exchange came under ticker symbol "TWTR."

Twitter, led by CEO Dick Costolo, earlier this week had already raised the price range for its IPO amid signs of strong demand. The company's market debut is the biggest U.S. tech IPO since Facebook, which went public in May 2012. 

The Twitter IPO raised $1.8 billion.

The San Francisco-based company, which has been looking for ways to bring in revenue, lost $137 million in the past year. Twitter, started seven years ago, provides users a platform to share short messages with each other. Its active user base has since swelled to over 200 million each month.

At the end of trading on Thursday, Twitter shares were up $18.90 to $44.90, and early investors and top executives became much richer than they were a day earlier.

Co-founder Evan Williams has 56.9 million shares of Twitter worth nearly $2.6 billion as of Thursday's closing price, and co-founder Jack Dorsey's 23.4 million shares are worth more than $1 billion.

Costolo, who boasted on CNBC that the Twitter IPO wasn't about creating personal wealth, had about $350 million worth of Twitter stock in his portfolio at the end of Thursday trading. Costolo said he and the founders do not intend to cash out any time soon.

With the surge in the price of shares -- and lack of profits for the company -- a couple of Wall Street analysts were advising caution on Thursday. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities initiated coverage with a "neutral" rating and Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group downgraded the stock to "sell" because it soared past his $30 price target.

In his downgrade note, Wieser noted that Twitter's enterprise value at more than $45 per share is on par with very profitable media companies like CBS, Discovery Communications and Yahoo.

Twitter: @georgszalai