A Middle Eastern private investment organisation owned by a billionaire Saudi prince has invested in microblogging platform Twitter.
The Kingdom Holding Company, an investment organisation based in Riyadh, and led by a scion of Saudi Arabia's ruling family, announced its $300m (£198m) investment on Monday. The company has sizeable investments in technology companies such as Apple, eBay, HP and Motorola, and media companies including News Corporation and Time Warner.
"Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact," Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company, said in a statement.
Twitter allows people to quickly transmit and receive 140-character messages. The microblogging site, with other social-media technologies including Facebook, was a key tool that Arab Spring protestors used to organise demonstrations against Middle Eastern and North African governments in 2011. Many Middle Eastern countries that Saudi Arabia has political ties with, such as Egypt and Jordan, were hit by protests that used Twitter. Saudi Arabia experienced protests driven by an online campaign for reform, although Twitter did not play a direct role.
We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetise this positive trend.– Ahmed Halawani, Kingdom Holding Company
The funding "was the result of several months of negotiations", the Kingdom Holding Company wrote in a statement, before saying the investment represents a "strategic stake in Twitter".
The $300m takes Twitter's total funding to around $1.46bn, according to technology company database Crunchbase. Other investors include Union Square Ventures, Morgan Stanley and internet entrepreneur Marc Andreessen.
"We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetise this positive trend," Kingdom Holding Company's director of private equity and international investments, Ahmed Halawani, said in the statement.
Twitter had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
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