Justin Bieber, one of the world’s most recognizable pop stars, was discovered on a Google-owned video-sharing service, YouTube. Leapfrogging the usual merciless gauntlet of Simon Cowell–mannered record label scouts, American Idol auditions, small-town talent and trade shows — that is, all the barriers faced by young performers in search of stardom — Bieber took straight to the Internet to develop an organic mass following. That caught the attention of superstar R&B singer Usher, who signed the then 13-year-old Bieber to a contract with mega-label Island Records. The rest is history: The web-savvy Bieber became at least as mainstream as any boy or girl who had to pass through the Saint Peter–inspired selectivity of the gates of Disney Television and onto the stage of The Mickey Mouse Club  (Justin Timberlake, for one). Social media became lodged in lore as providing unconventional avenues to success, inspiring millions of young children around the world to upload “Stairway to Heaven” guitar covers and a cappella songs to video-sharing sites in the hope of achieving similar fame. But could the same thing happen to a financial analyst?

In other words, might Twitter — which went public earlier this month — ultimately do for Wall Street analysts what YouTube did for undiscovered music artists, by disintermediating analysts and clients through a weakening of the grip of large investment banks over the dissemination of research and analysis aimed at the buy side? Will Twitter empower analysts to publish their own insights and research independently and to attract a following and monetize their work without the need for a patron institution? While regulatory and compliance issues abound, such a transformation is less inconceivable than ever before.

In April the Guardian called social media platform Twitter, with its 140-character broadcasts pouring in from 49 million users in the U.S. alone, “the first and quickest source of investment news.”

The rise of Twitter in business, technology and culture has been thoroughly documented (and with increasing frequency, as a result of the company’s IPO). Many commentators and players have loudly hailed its benefits for the financial sector. The platform works in real time, as a kind of crowdsourced, infinitely sensitive ticker. Twitter enables analysts to tweet microbursts of insight that are ultimately more fresh than carefully vetted research notes produced by expensive, slow-moving, conservative teams at large financial institutions. This fact in and of itself seems to promise a new avenue for independents to capture clients; key insights into market shifts of all sizes will probably always accrue valuable prestige to their fastest disseminators.