SAN FRANCISCO -- Twitter is making a big push into e-commerce as speculation heats up that it's preparing for a widely anticipated initial public offering.
The San Francisco company has hired Nathan Hubbard, former chief executive officer of Ticketmaster, as its first head of commerce to get people to shop on the popular social network, part of its drive to hit $1 billion in revenue in 2014.
Hubbard starts Thursday at Twitter, he said in an interview. He will report to Adam Bain, Twitter's head of global revenue, and will commute from his home in Los Angeles. Hubbard left Live Nation Entertainment's Ticketmaster unit earlier this month.
He said Twitter is aiming to "get people in the moment to buy and to act on their passions."
"That to me is the opportunity. I look at Twitter as one of the greatest discovery and distribution platforms in the world," Hubbard said.
He emphasized that Twitter would form partnerships with merchants and offer them tools to sell goods and services inside tweets.
"Just as Twitter partnered with content owners to help them better distribute their content, we think about commerce the same way: how we can be a distribution and awareness partner," he said.
He declined to say if Twitter would also form partnerships with providers of payment services or would get into payments itself. He also would not say whether Twitter would take a percentage of transactions or how Twitter would generate revenue from shopping purchases.
Twitter has been revving up its business operations in preparation for an IPO. Data about the shopping habits and interests of users would be a valuable commodity for advertisers. Research firm EMarketer estimates Twitter will generate $583 million in advertising sales this year. Twitter is also working with Datalogix to track when ads on its site, called Promoted Tweets, lead to purchases.
Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo has waved off speculation of an IPO but has promoted Ali Rowghani to chief operating officer, hired Mike Gupta as vice president of corporate finance and treasurer and hired former Morgan Stanley executive Cynthia Gaylor to run corporate development.
Last week the New York Post reported that Costolo met with bankers and could be looking to file papers with regulators before the end of the year.
Hubbard declined to comment on a Twitter IPO.
"The best part of not being CEO anymore is that I don't have to answer those questions anymore," he said. "I can claim blissful ignorance."