Posted October 2, 2009 4:49 pm by with 7 comments

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twitter-logoWhile it isn’t news that Twitter has no revenue model what is interesting to note is near yawn that the prospect of not having can draw from one of the founding fathers of the Twitterverse.

The New York Times reports that Evan Williams, who doesn’t get the pub that a guy with a cool name like Biz Stone does was speaking to a group of journalists in San Francisco today. You know those folks right? They’re the ones that if they are lucky enough to work for the Washington Post can’t even use Twitter without facing 20 lashes.

The following quote from Williams’ talk Online News Association’s annual conference tells us quite a bit.

Mr. Williams founded several companies before Twitter, including the Blogger service that he eventually sold to Google. One lesson he has taken from them all: “Create something that you want to see in the world,” not what some M.B.A. brandishing a business plan suggests.

It’s always easy to say for someone who already has one successful sale under his belt and probably not a lot of need to worry about his personal finances. The rest of the world, however, does get measured by those pesky little numbers known as profits and losses.

Admittedly, that sounds like sour grapes and I guess to some degree it is. What is real though, is people getting tired of listening to people who have a lot of money invested in them not seem too concerned about making it back in this decade. The economy right now is pretty rough and having to suffer through another “We don’t need to make money because we are Twitter” deal is getting old.

He said the company is instead focusing on building value, such as through the new Twitter lists, which will allow anyone to create a custom list of Twitter accounts that can be shared publicly or privately. For example, you could compile your 10 favorite Twitterers on the topic of chocolate into an All About Chocolate List that anyone could browse.

It’s a potentially powerful tool that could empower a new class of Twitter curators that will guide others to the best content on Twitter, and Mr. Williams encouraged journalists — already in the business of curating and editing content — to jump into the fray.

One thing this does is actually put a more positive light on the folks at Facebook. They are further along in this game than Twitter and they seem to be pretty focused on creating value AND making money as evidenced by aggressive revenue goals and a glimpse at cash flow positive status recently.

But back to the fantasyland that is Twitter. Williams addressed the one area that most are the most interested in, Twitter’s search capabilities, and admitted that they need some work. As a result, they are working on it.

In an interview after his keynote presentation, he acknowledged that the current Twitter search engine is too basic and the company has a “significant search team” working on improving it.

The next goal, he said, is to eliminate the duplicates and other “noise” that come up in most search queries.

Considering the company has somewhere north of 100 employees and a recent round of $100 million invested in it that significant team should be churning out something pretty quickly. Maybe not though. If there is no pressure being felt at the top then why should there be through the ranks?

Your thoughts?

  • It is amazing to see companies like this operate with no real revenue streams. Everything is based on potential, which in some cases, ends up being nothing like what was imagined. With no ads or annoying emails, Twitter doesn’t appear to have any means to be financially viable (at this time). It remains to be seen how they will monetize the system, but they are sure to upset many of their users when they do.
    .-= Cory Howell´s last blog ..Google Webmaster Tools 404 Error Verification Problems Resolved =-.

  • There are a number of people using Twitter to make money but whenever that happens, you run the risk of attracting the spammers. Its going to be a challenge weeding out the garbage from the quality stuff when developing the new search engine/function
    .-= Website Marketing Consultant´s last blog ..SEO Consultant – What you should know =-.

  • Ironically, FriendFeed is now more profitable than Twitter thanks to their recent sale.

    Twitter will have to buck up and bring in the dollars, we’re just seeing the honeymoon come to an end.

    Let me play Devil’s Advocate though and say that perhaps the resistance to monetize such a hot property immediately is a good thing. Stone and Williams may see the writing on the wall for other news and media outlets and simply want to create a lasting revenue model.
    .-= Social Media Commando´s last blog ..Khloe Kardashian Knows SEO & You Don’t =-.

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  • JV

    On a related note you might find this blog post interesting… — “Dear Twitter. I Want To Share My Revenue With You.”

  • Twitter is an amazing product that has changed the world and turned it upside down. It is breaking down boundaries on a so many levels by connecting people instantly with thousands of people. This is really revolutionizing the “real-time” movement.

    Back to the revenue question though, everyone wants to be apart of something. For such a a viral technology, there must be potential somewhere for it to make money so let’s keep throwing money at it. The weird though is that the people behind twitter and the people involved are some of the most business savvy and smartest people in the industry and yet they can’t monetize it…

    I love it and use it everyday to promote my business and personal brand so I hope they keep on churning out great functionality.

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