When Twitter goes public in coming weeks, one of the biggest winners will be a 47-year-old financier who guards his secrecy so zealously that he employs a person to take down his Wikipedia entry and scrub his picture from the internet.

Over the past two years, Suhail Rizvi, founder of New York private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management, has quietly amassed a stake of more than 15 per cent in the microblogging phenomenon for himself and his investors at a cost of more than US$1 billion, according to three people with knowledge of his investments.

The son of an Iowa psychology professor, Rizvi has networked with rich and powerful people including Queen Noor of Jordan and Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, devising financing schemes that leveraged his access to deep-pocketed investors, according to people who know Rizvi.

Those who invest with Rizvi include British billionaire Richard Branson and Jeffrey Skoll, the former eBay executive and film producer, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It is not clear whether they are among the investors he brought into Twitter.

Before turning his attention to the internet, Rizvi’s deal-making focused on Hollywood. He helped Hugh Hefner take Playboy Enterprises private; bought and then sold the Hollywood film studio behind the Twilight series; and led the buyout of a leading talent agency, International Creative Management (ICM).

Rizvi’s Twitter connections opened the doors to other investing opportunities. Last year, he led a US$200 million investment in Square, the mobile-payment processing company founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, at a US$3.25 billion valuation. On September 24, he led a US$50 million financing round for news reader app Flipboard, whose founder, Mike McCue, once sat on Twitter’s board.

Source: South China Morning Post

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