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Charlie Sheen Just Gave Twitter Its Breakout Moment

Thursday, 10 Mar 2011 | 4:33 PM ET

Back in December 2005, "Saturday Night Live" aired a short video called “Lazy Sunday,” which featured actors Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell rapping about a “chronic”-influenced trip to a cupcake bakery and a viewing of “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Someone uploaded it to then-private YouTube, and a week later it had 7 million views.

“’Lazy Sunday’ launched YouTube into the spotlight and ten months later, Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion,” said Lou Kerner, Internet & social media analyst for Wedbush, in a note. “Twitter had its Lazy Sunday moment on February 28 when Charlie Sheen created his @charliesheen Twitter account.”

Charlie Sheen
John Baptiste Lacroix | WireImage | Getty Images
Charlie Sheen

The former “Two and a Half Men” star reached 1 million Twitter followers in 25 hours. The media circus surrounding Sheen is boosting the value of Twitter as it heads for an initial public offering or sale.

The actual amount that Sheen’s halo effect has boosted the Twitter brand is debatable, given that the social networking site is private. However, there was a $25 trade on Twitter ‘shares’ on the Web site SecondMarket in January. Over on Sharespost, a similar site for exchanging privately held stakes, there is an outstanding bid for $33 currently. That would mean Sheen was at least largely responsible for an increase in the value of Twitter by more than a third to more $7 billion, according to the valuation implied by the SharesPost bid.

“Twitter accounts, as well as activity, will look like a hockey stick in the next twelve months,” said Jeff Kilburg, Senior Development Director at TreasuryCurve.com, who has seen firsthand the viral spread of the social network amongst the trading community (and follows Sheen).

Charlie Sheen Sues Warner Bros.
CNBC Julia Boorstin reports that Charlie Sheen sues Warner Bros. for $100M after his own recent comments resulted in him being fired from the sitcom, "Two-and-a-Half Men."

But it’s not just a boost in new users that Sheen’s media storm will give to Twitter, it’s how he used it, according to Wedbush, which is based in Los Angeles.

“The @charliesheen account has highlighted the ability of the Twitter platform to enable individuals to build an owned audience, in real-time, in scale, with a narrative that does not need to pass through the traditional media gatekeepers,” said Kerner, who along with colleague Michael Silverstein, is building one of the first research units on the Street primarily focused on the booming social media space.

Twitter’s advertising revenue will triple to $150 million this year, according to a January estimate from digital marketing research firm eMarketer. That figure could increase if more public personalities follow in Sheen’s footsteps, foregoing traditional media for the straight-to-user model described by Wedbush.

On Thursday, Charlie Sheen filed suit against Warner Brothers and “Two and a Half Men” producer Chuck Lorre for $100 million. After the suit was filed, Sheen tweeted out, “You corporate trolls were warned.”

Now Twitter should be sure to thank Sheen for its pop culture breakout moment, said Stephen Weiss of Short Hills Capital—and he means it as a warning.

“Given how angry he has been for the ingratitude of Lorre, CBS and Warner, can we expect him to begin lashing out at Twitter for all the money he has made them?”



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