The Twitter Platform's Inflection Point

I was emailing with a friend of mine yesterday who is a 30 year veteran of silicon valley. He'd written a post that was quite positive about the iPad. I sent him my post which wasn't so positive. We had a good discussion. Which ended with my friend making this point:

fate depends on entrepreneurs inventing new kinds of killer apps. (remember how
desktop publishing saved Mac?)

I got out of college in the early 80s when the desktop revolution was upon us. A bunch of my friends from MIT were piling into startups in Cambridge building products on top of this new desktop computing platform. One of them was a company called General Computer that made external hard drives for the original Macintosh, which you might recall came with only a floppy drive. General Computer did fantastic for a while but its business eventually faded away as Apple filled in the holes in the Macintosh product.

Contrast that with Lotus, another Cambridge company that built something entirely new on top of the desktop platform. Or Aldus, who started the desktop publishing business that "saved Mac" as my friend points out.

Which brings me to the title of this post. I've been thinking a lot about the Twitter Platform and Ecosystem recently. I think it is at an inflection point, much like the desktop software and hardware business was in the mid 80s as the desktop platform started to mature.

Much of the early work on the Twitter Platform has been filling holes in the Twitter product. It is the kind of work General Computer was doing in Cambridge in the early 80s. Some of the most popular third party services on Twitter are like that. Mobile clients come to mind. Photo sharing services come to mind. URL shorteners come to mind. Search comes to mind. Twitter really should have had all of that when it launched or it should have built those services right into the Twitter experience.

When you talk to a new user, they want to know how to post a photo to Twitter, they want to know "what is this thing?", they want to know how to get Twitter on their iPhone. Names like Summize, Twitpic, Tweetie make no sense to them. Of course, without Summize, Twitpic, and Tweetie we would not have the Twitter we have today. They and many other third party products and services filled out the holes in the Twitter product and made it work better.

But those services don't feel like Lotus or Aldus to me. What are the products and services that create something entirely new on top of Twitter? I'll come back to that question, but one more history lesson, this one recent history.

When Facebook platform launched, we saw a massive number of new products and services launched on The Facebook. But many were slight variations on existing Facebook features (like Superwall) or holes in the Facebook service. As Facebook closed up those holes and enhanced their own feature set, those apps fell to the wayside. But there was one entirely new business that got created on top of the Facebook platform and that is social gaming, which industry analysts project will be a $1.6bn market this year and I think that number is low.

Facebook (and Twitter) have also spawned the social media agency business, helping businesses and brands market themselves in social nets, which may be even bigger than social gaming when you add up all the companies in it. That business opportunity is directly analogous to the search agency business that got built on the back of Google as it scaled into the business it is today.

So it is clear that you can build large businesses on top of a social platform like Facebook and Twitter. And because Twitter is so open and so lightweight, I am surprised that there aren't more "new kinds of killer apps" to quote my friend who I started this post with.

Here's are some places where I think we might see these killer apps emerge:

* Social Gaming – There have been a number of attempts to build social game experiences on Twitter. But I'm not aware of any successes of scale like we've had on the Facebook platform. I think we will see it emerge soon.

* Verticals – We have some successes to point to here like Stocktwits for finance and Flixup for movies but this is a wide open opportunity in most verticals and we haven't seen as much effort here as I'd have expected.

* Enterprise – CoTweet comes to mind as well as the efforts that Salesforce has made to integrate Twitter. This is a huge opportunity.

* Discovery – This is one area where there is a significant amount of effort. Hunch, Listorious, TweetMeme, Cadmus, WeFollow, and MrTweet all come to mind.

* Analytics – While Twitter will obviously be delivering better analytics to its users, particularly its marketing and business users, I believe that there is always a market for third party analytics. Google Analytics is available for free and yet none of the large analytics providers have seen their businesses suffer. There is simply a voracious appetite for information on the Internet. So companies like, Radian6, HubSpot, Scout Labs, and others have a bright future.

But these are the obvious places to look for killer apps on Twitter Platform. If I can see them, so can many others. I think there are a number of non-obvious places, like desktop publishing was on the Mac, where something entirely new will be built on top of Twitter. And that's what I'd like to challenge entrepreneurs and developers out there to focus on. I think the time for filling the holes in the Twitter service has come and gone. It was a great period for Twitter and its third party developers.

I believe we are entering a new phase now. Twitter is a global platform, the 33rd largest in the world according to Comscore, with almost 70mm uvs worldwide in February. It is a large company now with the resources to service the ecosystem in ways it never could before. It's hosting its first developers conference, Chirp, in San Francisco next week. And so it's time for Twitter and its developer ecosystem to work together to create entirely new things that will shape the Internet in the coming years. I'm excited to see it happen.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. David Semeria

    Key question: is twitter’s greatest strength also (potentially) its greatest weakness? How far can you go with 140 chars?

    1. Naveed Lalani

      I don’t think so, that’s what makes it unique. And regardless, the point isn’t the 140 chars, the point is that there is a huge user base on twitter that’s growing rapidly and is ready to be tapped with more interesting applications.

      1. Philip J. Cortes

        David – Although I share your frustration with twitter’s 140 characters, what you’ve identified is precisely a “hole” that other companies will fill. Twitter has provided a platform through which we can communicate to the world, and follow others. The revolution we’re going to see is one where people leverage this simple fact to provide other services. An example of this is Amplify – which I use to share what it is that I’m reading, and my reflections on articles through twitter. It posts a short blurb, and a shortened URL to my in depth analysis – thus bypassing the 140 character issue we both dislike.

        1. David Semeria

          I never said I disliked the 140 character limit. But as you correctly point out, the only way round it is via urls.

          1. fredwilson

            not necessarily. the only way around it today is urls. there are other ways. stay tuned.

          2. Naveed Lalani

            javascript compatible tweets?

          3. Mark Essel

            And altenative web services that read write to Twitter and the rest of the web ( software).Maybe Buzz, Tumblr & Posterous?

          4. Ed Freyfogle

            Where there is creativity, there are other ways. See “the Twitter Challenge”http://shreevatsa.wordpress…

          5. David Semeria

            Very interesting, thanks. But we’re still left with the question of whether 140 chars is more of an advantage or a disadvantage?

          6. kbedell

            I think this argument is over. 140 chars works. 50+ million say so.Let the market decide — pp use it because 140 characters works.If I wanted long-winded discussions I’d hang out on blogs and comment. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          7. David Semeria

            Sure. But Fred was talking about a next generation of apps taking the platform to a new level, like Aldus Pagemaker did for the Mac.All I’m asking is whether 140 chars is a limiting factor in this context.Given Fred’s answer above, I think we could see a kind of two-level tweet, with the 140 chars optionally acting as a form of header for more complex on-platform content.

          8. Antonio Trapani

            People use it because it’s a trend phenom. It’s fashion. It’s Style. Email technology works because it’s very usefull, and that’s more much used than twitter.

        2. Antonio Trapani

          Before Twitter, there were many other platforms letting you to communicate with the rest of the world. Twitter didn’t bring any new concept other than 140 chars limit (from SMS). The great popularity of twitter is due to their amazing work on moving celebrities to have conversations on Twitter. It’s all about marketing, and nothing more than a trend at the moment. Please, don’t tell me they brought technologies.

      2. markslater

        if you look at 140 characters throught the lens of a command and not just a statement – 140 characters becomes extremely powerful.

        1. fredwilson


    2. Matt A. Myers

      Simple: $10 charge to extend your 140 characters to 280 characters. ;)Plus, if you piss off your followers with giving too much info, they just stop following you… and boohoohoo for you!

    3. paramendra


  2. AlanPearlstein

    Where does Foursquare fit in? IMO their success is completely related to the Twitter platform. Is Foursquare social gaming?I would like to know who the real audience is on Twitter. It feels more like a b2b platform to me than b2c (which is probably a good thing)

    1. Naveed Lalani

      Really good point! Foursquare I think is one example that does fit into this.I’m assuming the author is referring to those that are exclusively twitter? Not sure. I guess making your API so “open and simple” leads the app developer to sleep with other RESTfull services ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe twitter can learn something from apple here. Or at least offer incentives to folks that stick strictly to twitter to distribute and create functionality for their app, like being featured in a twitter support app store.

    2. fredwilson

      its increasingly japanese, brazilian, and european. it’s not just a broadcast channel although it does seem to be moving that way here in the states, unfortunately in my opinion

      1. Daniel Stoddart

        The Philippines. I understand Twitter has now penetrated there; as a nation they send more texts than any other. How to monetize that is a problem, though. Remember what happened back when Friendster exploded in the Philippines? That was one of the things that killed it…

        1. fredwilson

          twitter has re-architected its entire service slowly but surely over the past two years and they will continue to do that. you are never done scaling in my opinion. i don’t think the phillipines will kill them. i hope that it will enrich twitter in new ways. every country, every society, every person who joins does that.

  3. Naveed Lalani

    Do you think one of the challenges here is that there is no twitter supported “app marketplace”, unlike with facebook?

    1. fredwilson

      yes i do think that is one thing twitter can do for the ecosystem and there are many things they can do

    2. billbing

      Have you seen oneforty ( That’s basically a Twitter app store.

  4. Guest

    Very interesting post, Fred, I think/hope you are right.One note, however: there is an inherent difference between a computing platform and a networking/media platform. A computing platform without apps really has very limited usability. On the contrary Twitter in its very basic form is already astonishing. I mean, everyone remembers the Green Revolution in Iran, and the role Twitter played in it… but even things that are so much smaller in global importance, for example getting immediate reactions from the GM of the Houston Rockets on his scouting trip in Europe… just mind-blowing for an old NBA-junkie like-me. And that’s without any apps…So l am looking forward to this brave new world that you describe, but even now twitter is a very exciting thing to me. After all, in another historic perspective, TV didn’t need any apps for it to be dominant media for so many years. The flip-side is that the “inflection” may not feel really like an inflection, more like linear progression…Cheers.

    1. Naveed Lalani

      The fact that the twitter base service is so astonishing(ly simple) is what opens it up to be a great platform for killer apps. Instead of “twitter on my tv” imagine “collaborative wikis via twitter”. So again, you’re not so much relying on the twitter functionality, as you are using it to get a user base that already trust twitter and thus you can transfer the trust to your web app. If there was another service that had the same type of traction (e.g. facebook), you can simply go to that and create the same functionality.

      1. ShanaC

        I sort have done the wiki thing once. It didn’t go quite as planned, primarily because of the amount of retweeting. Inherently there are problems with collaboration in such a small scale open environment.

      2. kidmercury

        twitter’s simplicity may also be a limitation to its ability to extract more trust. i agree they are a trust broker, but i don’t think they have the model that optimizes for being the trust bank.

  5. iamronen

    DEVELOPER … if any twitter developers stop by here looking to collaborate on a twitter service – please say hello ([email protected])the service is about creating a dynamic/playful/useful experience for “meeting people on twitter” – potentially great for greeting and befriending new twitter users – something to break the cold and silent ice :)the developer I was working with couldn’t allocate time to continue building the service… so it’s on hold (I am a designer, not a developer).

    1. Mark Essel

      We may need your help Ronen, but we moved from twittercentric to feed centric. Part of my problem with twitter is that there’s plenty happening outside of it. So I need to visit several social services which all have feeds (some Push via Superfeedr, some natively Push, hope Twitter API goes that route or another service offers it).One of my trouble points is building a good looking feed organizer page, and a fun reader page. We should talk, hit me up at messel at victusmedia dot com

      1. ShanaC

        I still wish I knew what you meant by feed- where is this feed coming from?

        1. Mark Essel

          The web embraces feeds everywhere (Atom, RSS). The few locations you don’t see them (in Facebook) you can build them. Feeds aren’t service specific and they can be delivered in real time with RSSCloud or Pubsubhubbub. I have some preference towards Push because it sends the update with the “fat ping”, but Dave Winer’s brilliant for including the RSSCloud element in the original standard.If you browse with Firefox you can see a little feed symbol on the right of URLs that support feeds:, a twitter list, nearly any blog (yours included), news sites, YouTube, pretty much “the web”What is a feed: “A web feed (or news feed) is a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it. Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation, which is performed by an aggregator. A web feed is also sometimes referred to as a syndicated feed.”

          1. ShanaC

            I know the orange box is a feed. There are still days I feed like thatdefinition is changing- what you are doing is not some sortof traditional here is my rss reader thing, mostly because you are breakingaway from content into content as a source of information todo something else. So back to the original question- what is a feed? We’redoing something different now.

          2. Mark Essel

            I’ll send you an email offline ๐Ÿ™‚

          3. ShanaC

            ๐Ÿ™‚ deal

  6. Kevin

    A friend was asking me about Twitter last weekend. He doesn’t use it, and he doesn’t understand it. He said he went to check out someone’s Twitter feed and had no clue what was going on with the @, #, and other signs and seemingly random posts. It can be hard to figure out a conversation.I told him that I thought Twitter was ok with being the architecture and platform behind a way to talk around a topic and/or publicly and that lots of other apps were being created that improve the experience for the user. I must be weird, but I go right to the source – Twitter – I don’t like the 3rd party apps for some reason.I do think that what Twitter has is incredible. I also think it is hard to understand until you do it right now – and for a fair amount of time. In some ways that is a plus – especially in the start. The people who get it, get it. That kind of makes it cool; and I think it speaks in part to its success so far.But I don’t think people like my friend ever adapt to it unless it makes more intuitive sense out of the box. It will be interesting to see who provides that experience – Twitter or a 3rd party app. Is Twitter content to provide the platform/architecture of the eco-system or do they become a full service kind of network and fill the gaps that others are currently?If I were them I might consider a revenue model that makes everyone a partner. So if someone has 15,000 followers and suggests a NY Times article and 150 of them click through to it, the Times pays a fee-per-click, and some of that passes through to the referrer and the rest stays with Twitter. In some ways it makes everyone suspect – which I don’t like one bit – but in others it is really compelling for both the advertiser (the Times in this case), and the user – who can be paid for building a community and suggesting good material. Twitter gets to take a toll.

    1. Philip J. Cortes

      I agree with you – the fact that it does have a certain language works to keep its users active. It’s a similar strategy to what Bloomberg is doing with its Terminals – as archaic as the screen may look, it makes its users feel like they’ve mastered something difficult, and are part of an “exclusive” club for doing so. It also entices new users to really apply themselves to learn how the Terminal works, so that they too can become part of this “club” of users that can seamlessly navigate an outdated user interface and platform.What Bloomberg does, however, is train its user base EXTENSIVELY. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing “social media” manuals sprout up in bookstores, explaining exactly how to use services like Facebook and Twitter.

      1. Laura Fitton

        ๐Ÿ™‚ I think you’ll find there’s already quite a body of work in bookstores (social media manuals) explaining Twitter already:… (including of course my own team’s Twitter for Dummies.)But what is MUCH more important is the rise of ways for the community to explain and demonstrate Twitter to one another. More on that in about an hour at http://www.oneforty.comWarmly,Laura(CEO/Founder, oneforty inc.)

      2. ShanaC

        That’s inherently problematic- do we want such a user base, it also creates really big costs to pass a link for someone starting out (do we want a scaled model)

    2. Tereza

      Oy, you have no idea how much slack I get from my (Facebook suburban mom) friends about my (extremely light) usage of @’s and #’s.I feed my (light) Twitter stream into my FB status updates.For those bold enough to say anything, it’s perceived as Crazy at best, and Rude at worst.

      1. ShanaC

        eh- something I am thinking about recently is how twitter search has changed enough so that the hashtags are much less necessary…

  7. kidmercury

    still no business model, which i think is a potential problem for developers. once monetization starts, the beef with developers will start to, as people will start fighting over money. i view it as almost inevitable. and twitter’s worth as a business platform will depend largely on their policy towards developers and how they govern their ecosystem.same goes for facebook, although allegedly they are profitable and doing well. i think that’s believable, although it would be nice to see some proof. soon enough the trust value of transparency will outperform the perceived benefit of secrecy. but, we probably need more competition amongst platforms first, IMHO.i also think a platform without a mission statement is headed down a dangerous path, and runs the risk of doing lots of things without having a clear focus. i often think having a clear mission statement that the world knew about would help twitter overcome the “damn wtf is this for” issue that many twitter novices encounter.all these platforms also still have the basic economics of return on bandwidth. maybe they can get away with it, but the threat of google looms large here. and if not google, amazon waits in the wings as well, IMHO.

    1. Kevin

      Maybe the lack of a “mission statement” is intentional so far? Perhaps they wanted to see how people would use it and then craft both their mission and revenue model around that? Even if that is the case, I think you’re right on — to get to the next stage — whatever it is, it needs to be more obvious how to use it for people.

    2. fredwilson

      i expect there will be lots of talk about monetization at chirp

      1. Jeff Dickey

        Chirp is seeming less and less a developers’ conference, more and more a marketing/sales/”Business x.0″ Showcase Event. I don’t think the Twitter top execs know or (seem to) care how much resentment, if not downright rage, that is fueling in the developer community. The last time I saw a group of people so indispensable to a platform’s success get so angry at the people running the platform (into the ground?) was probably CompuServe โ€” and we see what a world-beater *they* are these days.

    3. reece

      Great point about mission statements Kid.

    4. Tereza

      Maybe we can come up with Twitter’s mission statement for post-inflection point.Here’s a first draft.Twitter: We gather, sort and stream brainfarts of 140 characters or less.Naturally, this mission statement must be 140 characters or less.

      1. markslater

        Action NOT Status

      2. Ahad Bokhari


      3. Al

        You’re an idiot.

        1. fredwilson

          don’t leave stupid comments like that hereif you want to misbehave got to techcrunch

          1. paramendra

            I was just thinking, posts accumulate more comments than most posts on TechCrunch. That is really something, considering the vast gap in traffic levels. And there is no sense of The Regulars on TechCrunch. Yet another reason to be a proud member of the AVC community.

          2. @steveplunkett

            Fred.. I LOVE YOU.. #noRTtechcrunch LOL!!!

    5. Nick Giglia

      Agreed, Kid. They have to start talking about monetizing the traffic and facilitating some kind of clear focus to get to the next level..I also agree with Tereza that their mission statement would have to be 140 characters or less.

      1. Tereza

        Whatever the mission is, having it will crystallize oppotunities for the add-on services.Take for example Fred’s list of opportunities, and matrix them against the mission I made up (and BTW I’m not suggesting it’s “the right mission”).But you can quickly see Verticals and Corporates then building businesses around higher volume, higher quality, faster and better curated brainfarts in their subject area, and analytics that matter to the vertical. And connecting BFs that should be conceptually connected but no one has yet.Incidentally that last one sounds pretty fascinating to me.The mission won’t elucidate all the opportunities but it should at minimum shine a light on the gaping holes.

        1. paramendra

          A tweet is not a brainfart. Oh, what a word to coin. A tweet is to the web what the atom is to the universe.

          1. Tereza

            To clarify. That was a half tongue-in-cheek reference.However, when creating the mission you can’t use the word itself. That’s a circular reference.So call it an atom, an idea, a butterfly, or a brainfart. What it has to be is quick, crisp, memorable, distinctive.Esoteric words are not effective when ready to cross the chasm.

    6. Mark Essel

      I was trying to find your email, but it’s just as easy to share it here for other folks. This could be the beginning of the end for public markets. Why bother to go public when you can trade share’s with private equity firms. Valuing private firms no longer just guesswork. Now if only we can get Facebook bucks that can be converted to shares we’d have some interesting new channels.

      1. kidmercury

        yup….facebook credits used to trade apps built on facebook in the facebook public equity market…..brought to you by facebook investment bankers….all of which is regulated by facebook itself. key question: how does zuckerberg step down? what is the succession process? will we get to vote on facebook staff…..or does it all just stay private. the more we have to trust private owners rather than a public framework, the smaller everything must be, IMHO

        1. MSHYYC

          I am glad there are some critics/skeptics out there re. Twitter and Facebook. They are NOT platforms in the true sense of the internet, they are silos and the idea of buildind upon them as if they WERE platforms is counter to the idea of the internet. It isn’t called twitterNet or facebookNet after all.The internet economy is where personal computing was in the 1980s (so is the mobile computing industry actually) before the great shakeout and consolidation around the “IBM” standard. Remember those wild days when you had Apple II series, Commodore VIC20 and C64, Atart 800, TRS-80 CoCo and TI994/a all fighting for market share, all incompatible and requiring separate versions of software (even if they shared the same CPU and sometimes even manufacturers)? In the end they are all gone, with Apple remaining as the only niche player surviving. All these players in the home market were eventually supplanted by the open architecture of the business machine IBM 5150 PC–and the only reason IBM’s architecture became standard is because third parties reverse-engineered it and legally prevailed over IBM (IBM tried to close up the market again with the PS/@ and its incompatible hardware bus and failed miserably).The internet age has done the same with software that the IBM platform did to hardware. Try as MSFT might the internet routes around its efforts to ghettoise the ‘net with its IE browser. You can quite fully use the ‘net to visit web pages, check email, share files, whatever…and cases where it matters if you use Windows, MacOS or Linux are a shrinking minority.Facebook and Twitter will–100 percent guaranteed–eventually die off completely or become reinvented around TRUE platforms and protocols. If they succeed they couldl be the “IBM PCs” of the “social applications” age, whereby their protocols and APIs are fully opened (voluntarily or by force of market or governments) and they fully interoperate with a multitude of other facebook- and twitter-like sites. They already share APIs to allow apps to attach themselves, plus there are already truly open protocols and platforms like OStatus, OpenSocial, FOAF and so on that aim for inter-site interoperability. If they don’t fully open up then Twitter and Facebook will be ganged up on by competitors using open standards to kill them.It is the building of an open, vendor-neutral stack of standards that could answer or make moot all of the questions you ask. Eventually, if it works out right, it won’t matter if or when or how Zukerberg steps down and plans his succession. It won’t really matter how facebook elects their board or hires their staff or whether private or public institutions run things. I agree with your opinion–the more private and insular the less potential to be big, and the social ‘net wants to get bigger than facebook and twitter could ever be. If they don’t play along, they will stop growing, then begin to shrink into obscurity.

          1. kidmercury

            i agree largely with what you are saying. i do think, however, thatthere is space for something like twitternet vs facebooknet vsgooglenet and so on — i.e. a world where these private ecosystems cancompete with each other. but the way it is currently being done, whereeach one of those ecosystems must have hundreds of millions of users,it is not economically feasible. these “private platforms” need to getto profits capable of multiplying through their ecosystem at a farearlier stage. google is the only one that is really doing it, thenext iteration IMHO is the “private platform” system that is far moreefficient than google at generating an economy. i think the path goesthrough open source, which may again return us to open standards thatare more akin with the vision of technology as liberator rather thantechnology as tyrant.i also think this is why those who advocate net neutrality cannotreally advocate twitternet; if net neutrality legislation is needed,than legislation against twitternet is needed. and the legislatorbecomes more powerful.

          2. paramendra

            It is like when they asked Windows to make public their source code. Why would they do that? “I am not a communist,” Bill Gates said at the time. (Reminded me of that line in Godfather.)

      2. ShanaC

        Even then, you still have to deal with cash, and a semi-liquid pool. The money means something, cash flow does mean something with these firms. (As any other private firm)

    7. CJ

      I don’t think they need a mission statement, they don’t need to be ‘for’ anything in particular. The fact that people use the service shows what it’s ‘for’. I think by taking such an open system and making it ‘for’ something you can limit the way people think about it and limit then what people perceive that it’s capable of. Right now it’s not ‘for’ anything and StockTwits sprouted up, who ever thought Twitter was for exchanging stock information in real time? I think they just need to do what they’re doing well and let everyone else worry about what it’s ‘for’.The monetization issue is separate from this IMHO.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        “The fact that people use the service shows what it’s ‘for’.”Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry pitch the Jerry show to the president of NBC:”It’s a show about nothing””Why am I watching it?””Because it’s on TV!””Not yet.”

        1. CJ

          LOL – Yeah I love that episode.

    8. ShanaC

      That’s already started with application development, we’re all curious as to what is a true complement and what isn’t. Turning on a long term cash flow will just be the magician’s reveal.

  8. LIAD

    we developed social gaming and virtual gift apps for twitter a long time ago, I am not averse to dedicating resources to the twitter eco-system, however until we are all clear on how twitter will actually monetise, and how 3rd party devs will/wont fit into the grand scheme of things, i would be apprehensive about allocating substantial resources to ‘pad-out’ or extend the twitter world

    1. fredwilson

      are you going to chirp?

      1. LIAD

        alas, no chirping for me.lots to do in london.Next time I cross the Atlantic will be to demo you USV’s next invesmtent ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Ditto. I could, or couldn’t integrate Twitter into my future projects that I am building (most likely won’t at this point, unless I can find my way to Chirp and something convinces me; I’d definitely go if I could get tickets to F8 too… anyone have?).I tend to notice how Fred’s and Twitter, and other services he’s invested in don’t have a Facebook Connect, etc. IMHO that’s primarily for email collection, or information, control of information, which is where a lot of value comes.Until I hear guarantees about this, why would I integrate Twitter and than use my own money to market my product, and let Twitter benefit from my marketing dollars? Whatever provider allows some sort of benefit will own the marketplace. I have ideas about this, maybe they’re way out there, but I’ll watch and see where it goes, as many people seem to be doing.

      1. fredwilson

        @anywhere, which twitter announced at sxsw, will do much of what you want

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Think you missed my point. :)I didn’t know of @Anywhere but it still primarily benefits Twitter’s business model or perhaps is mutually beneficial for large sites who sort general traffic, like YouTube, and Digg, etc.. For niche, I don’t know if it is yet beneficial, or if ever will be. But the following question comes to mind – Will the virility exist for niche areas?Will it be viral for the niche areas I’m covering with my projects OR will I be building my niche communities and paying for Twitter’s niche user growth with my marketing dollars? Will Twitter be gaining more benefit from my sites and traffic than me from Twitter?Why shouldn’t I just spend my marketing dollars building my niche communities (still relatively cheap these days) and keep the rights to the ‘tweets’ or equivalent that users will create, and resell the rights (even if for $1000 a year, it’s $1000)?I can see Twitter losing out with niche traffic lot if they don’t find an arrangement that can mutually benefits integrating parties, and also gaining a huge deal of success much faster (and blocking out competitors). Twitter will attract real business people this way IMHO, but what do I know – I just think too much and still have lots to learn. :)Sidenotes / my tangent โ€ฆFor Twitter, the big sites likely were paid or some sort of barter to include Twitter into them; YouTube probably put up as part of deal with Google to include feeds?Twitter needs to focus on growing its roots and making it online social-norm, and worry about monetizing later – so kudos to them for understanding this.Once again I believe Twitter will have no problem monetizing because of the information is invaluable compared to the other information that exists currently (from being so real-time and so open), and more so the automatic networks that get created between people, and the self-tagging with vast topics of interest.I imagine there’d be a profitable business just in profiling all of the tags people use, so advertisers can just say what area / industry and target market and have a whole bunch of tags that have been picked out e.g. conference names like #sxsw. And of course a profitable business could be found to run and analyze results from Twitter campaigns.Plus, Twitter will be a good prediction engine for things like stock prices, like was recently published relating to box-office releases. I suppose stock exchanges will have to watch out for this too, to make sure all information is released at the same time to everyone so no one has โ€ฆ well, not sure if this would somehow qualify with ‘insider trading’ or a similar situation. Start some ‘good news’ virally about stocks or other information (or just paying some highly influential people), etc.. I’m sure it happens anywayโ€ฆ Anywhoโ€ฆ.Twitter will still ‘own’ the tweets or rather benefit from the resell rights / feed rights to be included in Google search, etc. so I’d personally rather keep my users and their information.Maybe others aren’t as ambitious and don’t understand traffic as much as I feel I do.But, I do feel like this will hurt Twitter when there are developers who can do it all on their own and don’t want to give free pieces of their pie away to Twitter; I suppose just developers or entrepreneurs who are fully capable of finding, managing, and organizing all of the needed pieces for growth and marketing. That takes time, patience, and money though.

          1. paramendra

            I think I just read the longest comment ever on AVC. ๐Ÿ™‚

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Hehe. I win!! Do I win?? A badge? I win a badge! Hurray!Hopefully longest comment ever made some sense…

    3. falicon

      I built a game on twitter awhile ago too (…our biggest barrier was that we needed to educate people on what Twitter was, then what our game was on top of it…ie. we were too early in the market with building on top of twitter (we will probably try again as people get more comfortable with using twitter in this way)…I don’t think the way Twitter makes money will eat into gaming or virtual goods much…I think it’s really just more of a ‘training users’ issue…and also the fact that less ‘casual’ people are on twitter (ie. I think more people use it for professional stuff and less for wasting time or random hanging out — one of the big differences between twitter and facebook in my mind).

      1. fredwilson

        this is exactly right kevin. for these more sophisticated apps to develop, twitter has to close up the holes and make its product simpler to understand

        1. paramendra

          “…., twitter has to close up the holes and make its product simpler to understand….”That nails it for me. It has to go beyond being a tech elite thing – and, yes, even a simple SEO optimizer is a tech elite in some small town somewhere – and reach out to the average netizen. Learn from Tumblr.

  9. Marsh Gardiner

    Crafting a clear mission statement is a critical part of the inflection point.While all good ones should, Twitter’s mission statement better fit into 140 charactersโ€ฆ

  10. Andy

    Well – Yes I agree that Twitter is a platform or ‘ecosystem’ if you will (You really should read a blog comment I left on Jerimiah Owyang’s blog in Summer of 08);http://www.web-strategist.c…It won me the Nokia contest.What I do not agree with is your choices of what will evolve (games,etc). I think the largest opportunity that will emerge will contain a local (GPS) component. With Twitter, even a ‘Webvan’ will get built atop it.@A_F

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i left out commercetalk about holes in your product ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. kidmercury

      local is a game, commerce is a game….everything is a game IMHO

      1. Tereza

        Totally agree.There are opportunities for all desired human actions to be engineered into games.

        1. Mark Essel

          Imagine a game system front end on saving people with clean water, micro investments (Kiva), and larger infrastructure (free fast internet to poor Americans).

          1. Tereza

            Mark — Yesterday during the iPad discussion, @RobynCowie posted a link to a presentation by Jesse Schell at Dice 2010, called “Design Outside the Box”.In it he envisions all different kinds of programs.Mark his examples support and extend what you describe, about incenting behaviors for the greater good…in addition to those vis-a-vis consumer brands.Here it is:

          2. Mark Essel

            Oh great work by Jesse, I emailed that one to Kevin Kelly a couple of weeks ago, but I think he’d already seen it.Unfortunately we’ll have to take the bad with the good.Imagine massive virtual or social worlds constructed just a distraction. With an awesome enough game I could disincentive a nation from doing productive work. Hahah, of course that’s over the top (and too close to World of Warcraft and Facebook/twitter).

  11. Darren Herman

    Fred – I had a similar conversation a few months back which spurred this post:…I think you’ll find it interesting.

    1. fredwilson

      have you gone public with the investment you made in the twitter ecosystemyet Darren?

        1. fredwilson

          i like the name/url

          1. Darren Herman

            Thank you – it’s coming along nicely. It’ll be a nice project.

        2. Mark Essel

          I like the mission statement: “Helping the world visualize and consume vast amounts of content”

          1. Darren Herman

            Appreciate that Mark – it’s certainly needed.

  12. reece

    “Some of the most popular third party services on Twitter are like that. Mobile clients come to mind. Photo sharing services come to mind. URL shorteners come to mind. Search comes to mind. Twitter really should have had all of that when it launched or it should have built those services right into the Twitter experience.”If I were to really read between the lines here, I might think a few of these services are laying on the Twitter tracks…

    1. falicon

      hopefully for acquisition…not decimation ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. reece

        We’ll see…

  13. Sean Kaye

    I think Twitter strangely enough has alot of promise in the Enterprise space. I know there are companies like Yammer and SocialText running to fill that void, but I think Twitter could be “built” into some Enterprise Apps to deliver immediate messaging.A classic example could be gas meters. Put a small sim card in them and 3G connectivity, then once per month your gas meter tweets back your gas reading to your gas provider along with the meter’s ID code, saves someone doing manual checks.Your credit card company could private tweet you whenever an odd transaction occurs with a customer service line to call if its a false charge.Twitter being an internet service and having twitter clients living on smartphones give us a better transport mechanism for short messaging.

    1. Tereza

      I’m with you. The enterprise space for Twitter is massive and largely untouched.Lot of knowledge workers out there under the corporate umbrella and it is a daily challenge to know what innovation is happening out in the field.A while ago I ran strategic planning for one of the really big consulting firms. Thousands of really smart people out at clients but their intelligence is by and large disconnected from everyone else’s. Thousands of missed opportunities daily to link up insights to take the thinking to the next level and be distinctive vis-a-vis their competitors.Also, the best “thought leadership” is generated by people who are out of the office serving clients. Trouble is, they don’t have time to write up and codify their learnings. At least, never enough. They have to take time off revenue generating client work to do it, and that’s not OK. And thy really don’t have time or momentum to blog.What I love about the promise of Twitter in that setting is that these smart people can generate brainfarts in the field while they’re doing their day job.This is great raw material for streams as well as thoughtful, real- time blog- or report-length length analyses that can be shopped internally for Continuing Ed, as well as back to clients, to sell the next project.

    2. rcwhite

      What advantage does twitter have over email for both of these ideas?

      1. kidmercury

        none IMHO. that is i think why eric schmidt dissed twitter and called it a poor man’s email, i think there is much validity in that idea

        1. ShanaC

          Poor man’s email is sometimes a good thing- to the point forces people to think about what they really want to say…

        2. Tereza

          LOL “poor man’s email”.That’s like free and freer, poor and poorer.

      2. ShanaC

        Clearly, you have never seen an email from me…some people really need the force to be kept short and to the point.

        1. Mark Essel

          or a 5000 word blog post ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. ShanaC

            Oh the last one I wrote was way under that. I should know, it just waspublished.

        2. fredwilson

          your comments here have gone from your email style to your twitter style and i’ve really enjoyed watching that happen

          1. ShanaC

            Thanks, that means a lot. This place caused me to grow up in a lot of interesting ways. I’m much more looking forward to life’s journey now.

          2. Tereza

            โ€œI didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.โ€–Mark Twain

    3. Joe Siewert

      I think enterprises are hesitant to build a lot on Twitter because it is still changing/evolving/uncertain.

    4. Daniel Kligerman

      I agree, and there has been a fair bit of focus recently on Twitter-like applications in the enterprise. Another thing to keep an eye on for this is Google Buzz for Apps, which should be coming out fairly soon – .

  14. Oo Nwoye - @OoTheNigerian

    Is twitter for broadcasting, listening or communicating? Unfortunately it cannot do the three efficiently. I strongly believe if Facebook releases a Twitter like app (separate from the FB wall) Twitter will have a bit of a problemTwitter is lacking some core functionalities. They could have been everything broadcasting, location (Foursquare) Links (, and Photos (twitpic) amongst other possibilities e.g like payment. Their UI needs a massive overhaul! It stops making sense when I follow more than 20 people as people get ‘lost’ ( I recently unfollowed everybody but I am trying to see how best I can use Twitter).For Twitter to have a chance at commercial success, they shave to โ€˜alienateโ€™ some developers and do some core things themselves. There is a limit to outsourcing features.

    1. paramendra

      “…when I follow more than 20 people as people get ‘lost’ ….”I am so sorry.

      1. Oo Nwoye - @OoTheNigerian

        I made a million grammatical errors in my post! :). Points I was trying to make are1. The UI of Twitter is limits its usefulness. When I follow too many people (more than 20), their tweets start getting lost in my stream.2. Twitter outsourced too many core features.3. They would have at ‘alienate’ a lot of developers to get it right. I think they should.

  15. Mark Essel

    Fred, as you’re aware I did some work developing a simple personalized content web app (it’s first implementation an ad widget). It’s great for a wide demographic, but my findings were that there weren’t enough normal folks using Twitter to be appealing to hosts. More important we have to work more on a compelling reason for folks to opt in to any personalized content social reader.A month or two back we switched architectures to be able to handle any real time updates on the web (not just tweets – Pubsubhubbub) and real time upstream updates (Salmon) but there’s still plenty of work to be done on user front ends (feed organization), and a small tag based game system.

  16. jonathanmendez

    Interesting that you (and no one else) has mentioned the word advertising in this post. That would be the real killer app.

    1. Laura Fitton

      Twitter has indicated that a “monetization system” is coming that most accounts indicate will involve advertising and will be shared with both the main site and the ecosystem applications. Hopefully this will be detailed at Chirp.Meanwhile here’s a list of 40 of current existing advertising initiatives built on the TwitterAPI platform:…Many of these companies have reached out to us and are coming up with some good approaches and thinking on it. Interesting to observe.

      1. Mark Essel

        I’d suggest tacking one on but we’re moving outside of twitter’s information and identity system.

  17. John Caddell

    Fred, there’s an interesting subtext to your post: if you are developing apps like Summize,, etc., that contain features that should be in Twitter, watch out.I agree that Twitter as an end-user experience is incomplete. And the fact that many (most?) people access it through a third-party gateway affects the user experience and poses a risk to Twitter itself. You should be able to link-shorten, post pictures, schedule tweets, etc., from your Twitter page.Given that, to create a more integrated, simpler user experience, Twitter’s options are to build these features or buy the companies that create them.Either way, it’s going to take a hit with its developer community, who will now be looking over its shoulder when anything new is developed, worried that the big Kahuna has it on its product plan.regards, John

    1. andyswan

      Ya….I thought the entire “Discovery” section should have been placed in the “General Computer” category…because it’s something I think twitter really should be doing themselves.

      1. fredwilson

        They are. Bit its like analytics. There will never be too much of either

        1. andyswan

          good point

    2. Mark Essel

      If they buy the leaders I don’t think the community will complain. The unpurchased businesses though…

  18. Satish Mummareddy

    One application that can be monetized right away using twitter is taking surveys for different products. Right now the online survey business is done through recruiting people to take a survey and you pay for it. you can use twitter to pick seeds who can post survey questions and get responses. you can make a more democratic and cheaper way to get higher sample size surveys done. I think twitter fits very very well for this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. andyswan

    I really like the idea of twitter apps that don’t require the end user to be on twitter. Data extraction I guess you could call it. Like these guys are doing:'ve started a VERY early side project designed around the concept that twitter can be used to display useful information to non-twitter users. http://www.bugzug.comIt's super early in algo-testing phase from an intentionally very restricted piece of the hose….but the concept is to give people the LINKS that are being shared and clicked on twitter.

    1. Pete

      Andy, Bugzug is a cool idea… look forward to see where it’s going.Pete

    2. Mark Essel

      I started working on the user-centric version of bugzug where people you follow or list can sub-filter the trending links shared. Links that trend within my deliimited input streams are more relevant than popular trending links. This same concept will transition to our feed centric push, I think it’s important.I think Kevin (@falicon on twitter) did this with (specifically had a nice way of looking at trending links in your social stream.

      1. falicon

        Hey thanks for the mention ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yeah a lot of the stuff is playing with different views to Twitter, different ways to filter and collect Twitter information, and different ways to connect information…we also play a lot with different ways to stitch all the social systems together in hopes of making it smarter, easier, and more fun for the average user…of course we’ve got a LONG way to go on all of this, but yeah, it’s a big part of what I’m working on ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. andyswan

          Very cool.

      2. andyswan

        Ya that’s how we started out the project (it’s NOT a business) too….but we found that people were more interested in what they were missing than what they had.

  20. thewalrus

    “I think there are a number of non-obvious places” …..agree, but only time will tell :)Does twitter have or are they planning to have a fund? Not going to Chirp, but would be interested to know who is most eager to fund this space.btw: whats up with hunch showing up in the disqus comments? pretty annoying i think.

    1. fredwilson

      I an not sure what you mean by hunch showing up in Disqus comments

      1. marko

        i was playing with hunch, and then opened your blog in a new tab (using firefox on a macmini). in this box to enter comments i got some hunch questions. not sure if it was an error or something for user feedback. i just refreshed and it went away. haven’t seen it since.

        1. CJ

          Happens to me sometimes and a refresh fixes it.

        2. Mark Essel

          Wild javascript mangling during download I’d presume. Either that or Chris is busy infecting your browser to get more orthogonal question/answers to suggest, and answer anything ๐Ÿ˜€

        3. paramendra

          It went away, eh?

  21. Tariq

    Great point about verticals. I don’t know if you saw, but Bloomberg started picking up StockTwits in one of their search functions – to me, that is a pretty big confirmation of their model/potential.My guess is that when some more details come out about the plans for monetization, you will see a huge jump in activity around development of verticals and more broadly other services attached to twitter.

    1. CJ

      I’m a big fan of Howard and StockTwits, I just wish I knew more about stocks so I could really contribute.

      1. howardlindzon

        links of interest about stocks from the world wide web just as good as an idea. thx malcolm

        1. CJ

          I’ll keep that in mind.

    2. howardlindzon

      good catch tariq. it’s not sexy but the niche can make you rich ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Tereza

        That’s sexy!Hahaha

      2. paramendra

        The niche can make you rich. Is that an African proverb? Or Chinese?

  22. Openworld

    A breakthrough may come with a “fish in the Tweetstream” app – one that lets individuals and online tribes toss outlines of what they want into the exaflood, and then reel back in accreted Tweets/links that others in their trustnets deem as valuable.Discussions on this approach follow @hello_world’s post in “Slaves of the Feed” ( ). In recent days, it has also come up in @venessamiemis Emergent By Design blog – see comments on fractal patterns in socnet projects at .Best,Mark Frazier@openworld

  23. Barrett

    I would throw social learning out as an opportunity as well.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a cool idea. social learning.

      1. Barrett

        We are launching something in June. Social learning or learning in the cloud is one of the hot topics in the next 12-18 months. The corporate elearning market is ripe for change and a lot of the existing platforms should be aware of the implications.

        1. fredwilson

          i agree. i’d like to see what you launch.

  24. cyanbane

    The “point” for a twitter app, is going to be when twitter can publically measure that the given twitter app is getting people to *sign up*/restart using twitter. I belive gaming or search will be the only apps that are able to do that with the twitter platform. The recent twitter app for the 360/PS3 is probably the biggest draw I can think of right now outside of mobile platforms. All the apps you mention above are really semi-niche for a specific subset of active twitter users.Creating a twitter app appealing to those not of twitter > appealing to those already on it.I take that back, let me restate it:Creating a twitter app appealing to those not *actively using* twitter > appealing to those already *actively using* it.

  25. Tropical Gringo

    Unfortunately, I also remember Data General, Lotus and the killer app days. ๐Ÿ™‚ Of the areas that you mentioned, I think Social Gaming (though perhaps not just as a killer app) is what will propel Twitter (and others for that matter) as a platform. It’s really interesting how, nowadays, in order to visualize where things are going, you have to be almost as competent as a “sociologist” as you are as a business person and technologist. It just seems that Social Gaming taps into the whole reputation building/management behavior that propelled open source, social networks, etc. I think the easier twitter, facebook and others make it to integrate apps with each other, this will allow Social Gaming (whether as an app, a feature or something else) to proliferate even more, the industry as a whole will accelerate even more. KP just created their 100M (now $200M) iPad fund. Someone should create a similar fund to address startups that will be helped by the Social Gaming wave.

    1. ShanaC

      I used to read sociologyy for fun as a kid- it seems to me that the game thing is much more a drive towards establishing immersive independent identities that are shared and confirmed as identities with similar others that develop as add ons (or subsume) the real world ones- it isn’t clear if it has to be through a social game. That may be why broadcasting links are so important in twitter- it tells something about the person that are then confirmed as a true identity in the network.It is not so clear to me it needs to be a game. There are immersive, shared experiences on this blog (yes I know that seems odd, but there are running jokes about bourbon on this blog, and in blog community dynamics, that have seemed to spread to other blogs) It seems to develop reach, what we’re really looking for is community dynamics.

      1. Tropical Gringo

        I’ve never read sociology and it shows. I like the way you put it and I think the underlying dynamic is what you describe (establishing immersive independent identities..). What’s being called “social gaming” is probably running on that underlying fuel or another way to put would probably be that it’s a way to to unfold those “community dynamics” even more. Whatever is at play, I just feel that from Fred’s list, I feel that this factor (gaming, etc.) is by far what will drive the most growth in platforms such as Twitter.

        1. ShanaC

          ๐Ÿ˜‰ Bingo. Question is, how do you develop identity online? It is studied,I’m not so sure we completely know what we are looking for (back to myeternal question of what is space and the individual online and where arethey the same, where are they different…)

        2. Tereza

          I agree.Perhaps whether or not the gaming is “the thing”, when you incorporate it in smart ways it absolutely drives usage and adoption. Like kerosene.

  26. Mark

    This post was thought provoking, thx!

  27. Jim Milbery

    Fred,Your examples seem to validate the Geoffrey Moore philosophy for early stage products. First, encourage partners to fill out the “complete solution” — then engineer them out with your own components as you grow.

  28. Mark

    This post was thought provoking, thx!

  29. Peter Cranstone

    You’re friend is spot on. It’s now about the developers and how they can extend the Twitter platform. The friction points that it overcomes will determine the eventual value. Somewhere there is inherent value in the platform. From what I’ve learned about social network the ROI isn’t “IN” social network it comes “FROM” social networking. The killer app will leverage that.

  30. paramendra

    “Twitter really should have had all of that when it launched or it should have built those services right into the Twitter experience.”There you go. That has been my point. Twitter needs to eat into its ecosystem. Windows did that. Bill Gates’ last threat was he was going to incorporate antivirus software right into Windows. Good thing for Norton that he retired instead.And Twitter needs to appeal more to the mainstream users. The first page is not welcoming for new users. For one, it is cluttered. Tumblr could teach here.One way to eat into the ecosystem is to go on a buying spree. For that you need money. You get that money by going public. (…You should hire me and put me to work on this. (…Don’t get me wrong. Blogger remains my favorite social media platform (… And my enthusiasm for Twitter is well documented. (… It is not possible I lack respect for Evan Williams. But I think I can help.Hire me for a year, and let this be my first project. ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously.10 years back a lot of people wanted to go online so they could get Hotmail. Twitter has to reach that level of appeal.” I think the time for filling the holes in the Twitter service has come and gone.”True. But not true. 2009 was Twitter’s year. True. 2010 is the year for location, random connections and the inbox, as I see it so far. That list might look different in six months, I don’t know.But Twitter could still do it. It needs to eat into its ecosystem.

    1. kidmercury

      this will be the tricky part IMHO, will twitter devour its ecosystem, will ecosystem lash back….natural platform problems of course. but beefs will surely emerge.

      1. fredwilson

        i don’t think devour is what is going to happen

        1. markslater

          i am somehow reminded of the time when the awesome aura of google had settled on us and we were beginning to think on how they could take this amazing search engine and monetize it? Along came the killer app and the rest is history.Is it possible that twitter is working on or waiting on that killer “purpose”?

    2. ShanaC

      Twitter because it is so basic is in a difficult design spot- and a netscape IPO is a not smart thing to do from a valuation point. The market won’t bear it. Twitter needs to sustain itself or be bought, just like facebook, just like Meetup, just like any other company.I have full confidence that this will happen- it is an extremely interesting product/design question how if only because of the interesting design limitations of the problem. Right now my answer is “A stool is not a stool- it is a table if you put your tablecloth on it” The question is- what is the tablecloth. Largely, I would like to see some questions answered by crunching through the firehose at very minute levels, and seeing what search look like (if it is being used at all, or through third party clients) I also think paid accounts for certain services may be a good idea, especially with tiers. (The MTA may have to pay more as the official harbinger of all things about the subway…and there is constant chatter about the subway…)However, without crunching through and doing some really good case studies, no. Buying your complements is a maybe, but not because of an IPO. That could cause a weird value fluctuation of things like because people do stupid things like pile on twitter and raise the cost of above its actual worth. Buying with stock, not worth it….

      1. paramendra

        The idea that Twitter ought to be bought to me is blasphemy. Twitter is headed for an IPO, not a M&A. The question is not if, but when.

        1. ShanaC

          It is likely it will go to IPO- however I think when they buy say -pay part in cash, not shares

  31. Phil

    Interesting points, thanks. Just dropped you a mail in case you wished to see something we’ve come up with in the “Discovery” space, as we happen to be in NY this week.

  32. Boris Wertz

    The strength of the Facebook platform is that it is truly social: you have almost all of your friends on the platform and the communication is mostly two-way (which translates into large viral growth opportunities for apps). Twitter is way less social, both in terms of the strength of the connection you have with your followers / the people you are following and the amount of communication (mostly broadcasting). So I am sceptical of applications opportunities that are based on social interaction – for those Facebook is the better platform. I think opportunities for Twitter apps will be around information/knowledge creation and aggregation – unless the platform changes from the current broadcasting focus to a more social focus.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a good observation if you define social as friend centricbut it is not if you define social as people centric

      1. falicon

        People is where it’s at. Always has been, and as long as humans are the end users, always will be ๐Ÿ˜‰

      2. Boris Wertz

        Agreed – but probably 70-80% of our social interaction is with friends & family

        1. fredwilson

          but does it have to be? the social web makes it possible to have a vastly wider set of social relationships. that’s what excites me.taking the social graph that works offline and taking it online is less interesting to me

          1. Jeff Pester

            Agreed. Friends and family are determined by genealogy and proximity. That’s what I find limiting about Facebook.IMO some of the most interesting and fulfilling relationships are those formed and nurtured around shared interests and aspirations. Building and facilitating relationships beyond genealogy and proximity – that’s where Twitter will excel.

          2. Boris Wertz

            Bigger potential, much harder to figure out – will think more about it and we can continue our discussion offline some time soon….

          3. paramendra

            And that is why Twitter beats Facebook.

  33. Tom Damico

    We are building Koitunes โ€“ย the killer app for music.Still very early, but please check it out:

    1. ShanaC

      That oddly sounds appealing, a player in your client, click on the right link and music plays….

  34. Pete

    I’d be interested to see how Twitter segments usage. I personally use Twitter as an RSS replacement, and occasionally to communicate. I see active use by companies, marketers, and bloggers, where their businesses benefit from traffic and attention. There are also a lot of professionals in the internet / tech industry actively tweeting. But my perception of Twitter is certainly biased by how I use it, who I choose to follow, and who they choose to re-tweet.What kind of usage is there by people who have nothing to gain financially or professionally? What keeps those people coming back to Twitter, rather than going to Facebook where their friends are? Very few of my non-tech friends are active on Twitter, unless they are marketing something.Facebook has likely achieved mass adoption on core value alone, while the 3rd party apps have enhanced stickiness. It sounds like Twitter will rely on 3rd party apps to drive mass adoption, rather than the core value of Twitter itself. If that’s the case, then Twitter better create the greatest developer program ever known, and provide good reasons for developers to invest in creating Twitter’s momentum in the mass market. Facebook’s success as a platform does not necessarily predict Twitter’s future success.

  35. MartinEdic

    I know you have a vested interest in Twitter (literally) but, as a long time user, I see no future in it. I’ve migrated my use to Facebook and my client focus to Facebook. With the right preferences settings Facebook offers far more than anything I can accomplish with Twitter (I’m specifically talking about business benefits) and I can’t see a future improvement that changes that. With 400 million users, 50% of whom visit the site at least once daily and an average time on site of 10 minutes (these are astonishing stats for any site) Facebook is the de facto social destination. It’s going to suck up all the air in the room the same way Google did in search. And they make money.

    1. fredwilson

      twitter has always climbed a wall of naysayers. the only time i was really worried about twitter was in the spring of 2009 when everyone thought twitter was it.

      1. paramendra

        “….the only time i was really worried about twitter was in the spring of 2009 when everyone thought twitter was it…..”LOL

    2. falicon

      On the surface, it’s easy to say facebook and twitter accomplish the same thing and facebook is better at it…but in reality, and especially at the very core, they are completely different beasts…and so there is plenty of room for both to continue to grow and thrive.It’s Mac and PC…they seem like they solve the same problem, but really there’s more to it than that.

      1. fredwilson

        its mac and pc ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. falicon

          BTW – Twitter is totally Mac in this case!Now they just have to avoid that late 80s early 90s period and they are golden! ๐Ÿ˜€

          1. MartinEdic

            Actually I think FB is Mac- much more intuitive interface…;-)

          2. falicon

            I was speaking strictly from a branding point of view…I actually mentioned this to Ev at Chirp this week as well and he made the point that in a lot of ways Twitter is more like PC because they are much more open (and I agree 100%)…but I feel like Twitter has the fanboys (much like Apple always has) and Facebook has much more of the casual user that doesn’t really care about the brand (just what it lets them do).But overall, how cool is it for Twitter to have a chance to build a brand like Apple and yet be open like Linux? If they can continue to pull it off, it really will be a legendary company.

    3. Jeff Pester

      I think you might be change your mind once Twitter and it’s ecosystem starts rolling out additional features and functionality. Facebook is a friends/family communication platform, Twitter is an information exchange – it’s a utility at the core, and the implications and ramifications of that distinction are huge.From a revenue generating perspective, I’d much rather have 100 million active Twitter users than 500 million active Facebook users. Over the next couple of years that is going to become increasingly obvious.

      1. MartinEdic

        Actually I keep hearing about all the wonderful things Twitter has coming- unfortunately it has a whiff of vaporware. Facebook’s Business Pages are probably the most powerful business tools to come out of social media. For my local business clients they have eliminated virtually all of their media buying costs. When I bring up Twitter I get a blank stare and a ‘why would I care’ response. I’ve used Twitter successfully for lead generation in a B-B setting but the proliferation of shortened URL usage has basically destroyed much of that usefulness because you cannot see where the shortened URL is sending you. I’d like to see analytics on how many get clicked. Personally I think Twitter should only allow (and enable) links with anchor text describing where they point to. As for the 100 million active Twitter users- they don’t exist. A fraction of that are very active, the rest are occasional. Facebook, on the other hand, has 1/4 of all the people on the planet with Internet connections and half visit daily. As a marketer (of anything), that’s where my focus has to be.

        1. Manu

          Martin, Very good comment, I agree comparing FB with TT on the basis of web time and usage frequency alone makes FB far more compelling. But as Jeff was saying Twitter is more of an information exchange, a new communication channel that businesses have adopted, mainly, I believe, because the information shared is by default public, as opposed to FB where it is private. Also your cost of broadcasting information on twitter is far cheaper than on FB.I don’t believe you can compare FB and Twitter because they are different products all together, geared at different personas. Both have opportunities, twitter’s one is more in its infancy and for a good reason, the service barely existed 3 years ago.The whole platform argument, however, seems to me as just history repeating itself. each time a new ecosystem is created, the owner of that ecosystem will invariably fill holes over time, either through buy (what probably a number of twitter apps are hoping) or build.Fred’s blog makes plenty of sense, there are plenty of opportunities left and plenty new will come, but one got to first think how core to the twitter proposition this opportunity is: with hindsight, shorteners, pics, mobile apps all feel like core.

          1. MartinEdic

            Your reasoning is good, however, from a marketing/revenue POV, the ‘privacy’ of FB is actually a significant advantage. Due to the network effect and the recommendation engine inherent in FB, you can reach very targeted customers. Twitter is a shotgun. Both have their value (I’ve had real success using Twitter as a lead generation tool) but Facebook is a far more flexible and vigorous platform. The stuff they are doing with the Business and Group Pages and Analytics are fantastic. Right now my clients are getting more views on FB than they are on established, thoroughly optimized web sites. I have people wondering why they need a web site at all…

          2. Manu

            This is interesting input. FB is certainly doing great work with the business pages and their personalization rules are quite effective (I’m saying this both as an end user but also as somewhat tuned to that space as I work with a company in this space,, a SaaS personalized recommendation service based on location). I think Twitter will naturally evolve in this direction as well. As announced @chirp, they are adding places and advertising, very important components to achieve the above. And they got brands well on-board as well.That people even wonder why they need a web site is also very relevant of the strength of FB!

  36. Darth Binamira

    i think somehow buzz is filling in the holes of what twitter lacks…

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t know anyone who uses buzz

      1. falicon

        I ‘buzz the tower’ every so often…but I don’t really use it, I just click over to get rid of the ‘new’ number in my google mail area and while I’m there I check the top post or two…I still prefer Twitter for my random chunk of info when I have a few down minutes.

    2. CJ

      I think Buzz is more competition for Disqus than Twitter, I don’t think that they know it yet though. Neither Google nor Disqus, that is.

      1. fredwilson

        that makes sense to me because buzz is friendfeed 2.0 and i always though friendfeed was more competitive with disqus than twitter

        1. paramendra

          Disqus is in a league of its own. I use Disqus more than I use FriendFeed/Buzz/Tumblr.

  37. sweller

    As someone who has been experimenting with apps integrated into Twitter, I have found one of the biggest challenges is getting people to actually engage in the same viral nature that people do on Facebook. This has been a challenge.

    1. falicon

      I think of this as a stronger design on Twitter’s part…facebook initially made it too easy to be spammy and inflate numbers/users…Twitter, from the start because of it’s asynchronous following nature, hasn’t had as much of the ‘spam’ issue…but it does make ‘going viral’ a bit harder (in a quality way I think).

      1. sweller

        You could be right, it is part design, but I think it also has a lot to do with how people use Twitter compared to how they use Facebook. Also how they perceive the usefulness/utility of Twitter vs Facebook.I follow many people on Twitter out of interest — I am interested in what they might have to say. I some ways I follow people I don’t even know to explore and open myself to what other people are doing in the world.On Facebook, most of the people I am connected with are my close friends, relatives, acquaintances. This could have something to do with the vitality of Facebook vs. Twitter.Yesterday I did a test. I have my Tumblr account set up to repost to Twitter, which will repost on Facebook. My post was simple — “Is Twitter a one-way conversation?”.Where did 99% of my friends leave comments? On Facebook. 50% of these people have Twitter accounts.I am not entirely sure what this says, but as I experiment with apps integrated with Twitter, I notice a much lower referral rate from Twitter vs similar apps integated with Facebook.

        1. fredwilson

          it says your friends are on facebooki get 99% of my comments, right here at avci rarely get any on facebook

          1. sweller

            You make a good point. I really cannot say these are experiments due to the fact that i’m dealing with such a small sample size of friends. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  38. jv99

    Shush, have some respect! Free is dead. He had is day and rode with the best of’em. But his time is past. He always laughed at walls around the garden. Good thing he died before he saw his wild west pass into history and pay-as-you go toll roads and private property take over the last open range. Poor old sot, it would’a broke his heart. But times change.

    1. kidmercury

      yeah, google sure is struggling. damn. i feel sorry for them.

  39. Dave Pinsen

    Your world frightens and confuses me, but I have one small suggested improvement for Twitter. Problem #1, from my perspective is that responses/dialog is relatively rare. Problem #2 is that when someone responds, there’s no immediate way of knowing which tweet they responded to (unless they mention it specifically). That’s something we take for granted with e-mail.Example: I got this tweet a few minutes ago: “If it looks as good as on paper, we’re in the kill zone. Lock and load.” I assume that’s a response to something I tweeted. But what? I can’t tell from the tweet. If it were an e-mail, I would know. So my suggestion is to include some sort of automatic back link in responses (or whatever the right terminology is).

    1. Tereza

      Is that what a trackback is? I’ve not been clear on that.I agree driving clarity on what people are responding to would be a great improvement.Incidentally, I am obsessed with scoring points on Disqus and more specifically, to get alerts as well as rapid clarity on what comments were deemed of highest value. And also who did the liking.This knowledge/insight loop is under-developed (or under-provided) across all platforms, including Twitter, Disqus and others.The loop needs to be complete in order to make the “game” work, and generate more of the desired behavior.

    2. Adrian Palacios

      dave, i like both your points. when trying to wrap my head around twitter, the thing i keep coming back to is that it’s one giant public email and/or sms conversation.more to david semeria’s quetion, the 140 characters is, imo, limiting. and like you said, there is hardly structure. i’ve come across a few different apps trying to provide that (the names of which i can’t recall), but still felt they were lacking. so, if twitter is the largest public display of (the poor people’s) email threads, it should probably have some type of gmail-like structure…sort of where retweeting is headed. because otherwise it’s just, as many have mentioned here, a *hose*…a rather unwieldy one…

  40. Jeff DiStanlo

    i still think twitter’s value lies in the fact that interesting people converse about interesting topics on twitter. i never see that on facebook – i don’t care how many people use it. i think the game changer in the ecosystem has to build on that, imho. i am not as concerned about each detailed feature twitter does/doesn’t have – for whatever reason it generates more interesting conversations and connections than anywhere else on the internet.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      How much of it is actually conversation though? I’d love to see a rough breakdown on what percentage of tweets fall into each of these categories: – People I don’t know announcing that they are doing something mundane with other people I don’t know (e.g., “At SFO with @bobsmith and @suzyjohnson). – People I don’t know announcing that they are doing something mundane by themselves (e.g., “Eating lunch in my office”). – Aphorisms or quotes I see every other day, e.g., “African Proverb [sometimes this is presented as a Chinese proverb]: the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now”]. – Retweets of blog posts. There was one guy I used to follow whose M.O. was to be the first guy to retweet Fred’s and Seth Godin’s blog posts. Is there anyone interested in those posts who isn’t already reading those blogs himself? – Tweet about the latest way to make a fortune via social media or MLM.

      1. Jeff DiStanlo

        agree that there is plenty of noise.doesn’t downplay the fact that there are some very interesting people usingtwitter who converse and are more open than what i have seen on facebook. ihave made some good acquaintances/work associates/friends through theservice.maybe it’s just me, but i don’t think so.

        1. ShanaC

          I have found that I use both to converse, just a matter of whom and about what.

      2. ShanaC

        One of the one things I like about you is that you are a realist about my own bad behavior…

      3. Aaron Klein

        Twitter is e-mail where people can’t send anything to you unless you ask for it, and you’re never pressured by an unread inbox.I’m unsubscribing from most marketing and political campaign communications I used to get by e-mail. Some of the smaller ones immediately e-mail and say “what did we do wrong?” and the answer is simply that Twitter is 100 times better for getting their information than mixing it in with my e-mail messages.

      4. paramendra

        “”African Proverb [sometimes this is presented as a Chinese proverb]: the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now””LOL Sometimes Chinese. Ha ha!

  41. Jeff

    Another thing we learn from the example of Lotus and Aldus launching (actually latching) on to the desktop platform rocket-ship is the momentum created by “platform-plays”. While its great to create a new platform or disrupt a current industry, the ability to leverage the momentum of someone elses marketing efforts can’t be understated. A few years prior to founding Odeon Capital 11 years ago, I was an exec at Cheyenne Software, the firm that created network backup…put the back up device on the server, stupid!. We were fortunate to catch-the-wave of first the Novell server market and then Windows NT. We told the sales staff, “find the largest Novell distributor and storage distributor in each region and sign them”. As a result we had 16 quarters of double digit growth and 3 years of 35%+ EBITDA margins….pretty good in the enterprise software space. We wouldn’t have been nearly as profitable if the Novell and NT platforms didin’t eliminate the wind current.

  42. ShanaC

    There are definitely not obvious places, games are definitely one. One of the large questions brought up here is the influence of Javascript versus the timeline. if you are following a large number of people, something like a presentation, while doable, may not be smart to run through twitter (open presentation at will? who knows who attended? how do you monetize?)And like many people, I’m still sitting, mostly non-plussed, waiting for the twitter manifesto in order to monetize. Or a social media manifesto. One of the large questions I do have is can you charge people to connect with each other? As in can you charge per follower (or per hundred followers? that may cut down on spamming…)

    1. Adrian Palacios

      heheh, charging for connections…i’m sure capitalism has already found ways of doing this in a number of places ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. iptiam - iPad Therefore I Am!

    to turn a status message update into all this – hats off guys !!

  44. Ivan Ivanov

    Main Twitter problem remains the monetizing and don’t see them solving it soon.

  45. ShanaC

    Also, this is a purely observational point- I am witnessing an increase in comment traffic, and I am not sure why. There are over 100 comments and it is close to 2 EDT. According to your chartbeat, there are 158 people on this page. Do you know what is with this?

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, anytime i talk about twitter, a lot of twitter users show up here. and this post is on techmeme. and hacker news. avc will get at least 10k visits today. a normal day is 7k.

      1. ShanaC

        That abstractly worries me about twitter as an echo chamber. Clearly it passes links and other stuff, but 3K is a signifigant number. It’s the kind of number that says, some people will have to be monetized a different way or not at all because they may or may not be stuck inside twitter doing not much or not expected case use (talking to each other?..)

        1. fredwilson

          i underestimated. avc got 15k visits yesterday, more than double its normal.this post got a lot of debate yesterday. business insider cross-posted it and then ran a post of their own on the topic.

          1. kidmercury

            damn boss you gone platinum on us. congrats!

          2. fredwilson

            very funny kidbut you know, 15 thousand people is a lot of people. i’ve got to be more careful with what i say!

          3. kidmercury

            no worries boss, the haters will hate, but you have to stay true toyour game. it’s what made you platinum in the first place!

          4. paramendra

            The word out there is the top investor in Twitter spills the beans. ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of them think this is an “inside” job, whatever that means. ๐Ÿ™‚ One respectable publication says about that company you mention in the first paragraph, that you worked for them at the time. I left a comment saying not true, at least that is not what Fred says in the blog post. ๐Ÿ™‚ This is fun.

        2. Adrian Palacios

          shana, could you clarify you mean by “that abstractly worries me” in relation to twitter as an echo chamber?i.e., it is so easy (perhaps too easy) to echo other tweets that there is a large segment of twitter traffic that is…?

  46. Sam Henderson

    Great article. Lots of talk about in the valley as one of the first true “interpreted web” applications using this platform.

  47. ahoving

    For your consideration in the Verticals category: “The Frequency” – featuring content from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting on Sudan all this week.

    1. paramendra

      Hello Allan.

  48. hypermark

    Fred, that is a great articulation of the “definition of the situation” for App Developers based upon the stage of a platform’s development – i.e., moving from filling holes of an immature platform to building game-changers on top of maturing platform.XLNT pattern recognition. Thanks.Mark

  49. efliv

    Fred,I found your point that Twitter should have launched without the “holes” filled by 3rd party services really interesting. I wrote a graduate school paper on Twitter as a Complex Adaptive System that argued Twitter’s success is due to it’s willingness to let customers define the product.The argument is that Twitter, knowingly or unknowingly, followed many of the lessons of Complex Adaptive Theory, recognizing the natural emergence of features and behaviors in the user base and incorporating those into the platform experience. Specific examples are features like Retweet and @ replies. So, the idea that Twitter had predetermined these โ€œholesโ€ and should have launched with all the current features of itโ€™s ecosystem intrigues me.Was Twitter cognizant of all the “holes” early on or were they discovered more organically?

    1. fredwilson

      they didn’t know they were launching with holes. or maybe they did. but they certainly didn’t know about all of them. the market defined the use cases and the holes emerged. scaling issues, which plagued the service for the first two years of our investment, got in the way of feature development and the ecosystem stepped up and filled them instead. at least that’s my version. i am sure others who were at twitter or close to it in the early days might have a different take.

      1. Michael Sean Wright

        Ev was very clear on this when he spoke with Charlie Rose –… Paraphrasing … ‘Twitter is Twitter because of the thousands of third-party developers who built off the api.’ My hope is there is a balance between the need to drive towards a Twitter based app (ref. a certain tweet from a Twitter employee) and keeping the outside dev. community empowered.

        1. paramendra

          Thanks for that link to that Charlie Rose interview. I went ahead and watched. Evan Williams is one impressive presence.

  50. Ron

    Being a platform at a center of an ecosystem creates relationships that are by definition asymmetrical, as in big company with small developer. This means great opportunities but also potential conflict of interest.I have posted the following question to the Chirp API policy panel in reply to a tweet by @delbius:โ€œWhat is Twitter doing to ensure its legal team does not abuse the power it has over third party API developers? Can Twitter ensure something like the Totlol story ( will never happen at Twitter and how?”You can vote for it here: this can lead to an interesting discussion.

  51. Mike Champion

    Agreed with Fred that one of the things I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of is the various “verticals” around the Twitter data. (Although there are several that are cool like CheapTweet.) One of the comments that Ev made in his keynote at SXSW was that at this point there is something for everyone on Twitter. They might just not know it yet, nor is it surfaced well yet by twitter itself or many apps.One other category of applications that I think will emerge is around simplifying buying via Twitter. For example, as much as I like HypeMachine,, etc. I tend to trust a music recommendation from Fred (we have similar musical tastes) much more than algorithms. If I follow someone on Twitter over time I know if I have similar tastes in movies, music, books, etc. The difficultly is the data is largely unstructured (unlike how Hunch learns) so it might be difficult to capitalize on the social value of those links & mentions.

    1. fredwilson

      got any good music suggestions graysky?

      1. Mike Champion

        Sure! For me, the Local Natives album “Gorilla Manor” has been on pretty heavy rotation. Feels like Fleet Foxes or Andrew Bird. And I’m not usually a big fan of Massive Attack, but their latest album is really interesting.I used to run a site called which was one of the widgets slowing down this blog ๐Ÿ˜‰ and would be a bit jealous about the great shows you get to in NYC.

        1. fredwilson

          i loved

          1. markslater

            i loved it too! i think i met you guys at one of David Beisels events – i was actually trying to touch base some months ago and could not find any contact details. Ping me if you get a chance.

  52. Twillage

    At we’re datamining the twitter feed to find events, like conferences, tweetups, meetups, festivals, concerts, and mash it up with Yahoo PlaceMaker to detect where and when they happen. It’s a kind of “discovery” service, automating what and other event sites do.

  53. deancollins

    Hey Fred, whats the difference between Superwall and Social Gaming?is there anything that cant really be considered not suitable for “nationalization” by any parent entity with an API and third party developers.Be nimble people, be like the water.

  54. Michael Jung

    I have not yet read all, stopped at “iPadโ€™s fate depends on entrepreneurs inventing new kinds of killer apps. (remember how desktop publishing saved Mac?)” quote.Interesting for me is, I am currently writing a blog post “Why your love for App [X] is just a fling.” Not only bc of the iPad, but bc I want to support Jeff Jarvis.On the Twitter (&Facebook) application craze who operate on top of an ecosystem; it is hard to validate ‘it is just a feature, not a product’ against VC who have to get into these ventures and potential +5x return … or return on that Angel investment.How often has FB changed its TOS and privacy statements in the last 12 months (including the big user vode)?

  55. leapy

    There are a lot of comments here so forgive me if I missed them but does everyone think that tweets have to be human readable. Why can’t they just be API calls that remain ‘hidden’ and just trigger events in a “listening” application? Am I off-beam here? twitter looks to me like a terrific SOAP interface.Hey, there has to be a porn / hook-up-for-local-sex angle here, right?

    1. fredwilson

      when filtering becomes better i think we’ll see a lot of that kind of thing

    2. paramendra

      Most tweets in the long run will be M2M, machine to machine.

  56. inboulder

    “There have been a number of attempts to build social game experiences on Twitter. But I’m not aware of any successes of scale like we’ve had on the Facebook platform. I think we will see it emerge soon.”The medium is the massage and it seems like you don’t understand the medium, the twitter medium is so different from facebook as to require an explanation of why exactly you think gaming will emerge in 140 chars of text.”* Verticals ” Again, why do you think the 140 char text snippets from twitter lend themselves to any of these verticals? If you remove the hype, does this even make sense? What aspects of the twitter platform are so compelling that someone would want to restrict themselves to the ~20 mill US, ~70 mill world (and falling) twitter users rather than the 2 bill web users?I think people in SF get a little myopic, twitter is 95% hype, it is not a real business, most people don’t and will not ever use it, it is unlikely to ever turn a significant profit, it has a lot more in common with friendster and geocities than google. It will probably have a mildly successful arc akin to digg.The ‘twitter platform’ can be replicated trivially, there is not enough ‘value add’ besides the network effect to ever garner significant revenues.

    1. fredwilson

      maybe its the people in boulder who are a little myopiclast time i looked 70 million people around the world use twitter

  57. Dave Hendricks

    Fred – great post, needless to say that @liveIntent agrees with much of it, especially the part about discovery.Twitter killed the recommended list because it didn’t work. Anil Dash’s post about this really drove this point home.So we don’t agree that Lists are the optimal way to fuel discovery. Who wants to follow 112 people instantaneously and simultaneously? Putting a simple ‘follow me’ button on a site doesn’t constitute ‘discovery’ either.Check out – powerful contextual discovery and driving value for consumers who are struggling to discover the best creators of content, in real-time. Not another twitter list.Oh, and a monetization play too. Check it out Fred!

    1. fredwilson

      i will check it out dave

  58. Shyam Subramanyan

    I agree Twitter discovery is big. These Apps will help you make sense among all the noise. I will term these “downstream apps”.Looking from a different angle, I see is Twitter as a general purpose communication bus that can be leveraged by all kinds of “upstream apps”. These apps help people crowdsource/collaborate and create content through tweets. Case in point, something that I’m working on in very early stages… Feedback welcome.

  59. TweetProbe

    Hi Fred, probably a good time to update you about my twitter search app – tweetprobe – it’s done…

    1. fredwilson

      i will check it out

    2. fredwilson

      i think you should have a freemium model. hard to get people to pay $99 for something they can’t first try.

      1. TweetProbe

        I’ve reworded the tumblr post to highlight our free/premium versions. Thanks.

  60. falicon

    BTW – I actually will be at Chirp next week (in full mode) so would love to hang with any fellow people if you’re going…look for the chubby guy with no hair, probably poorly dressed, and most likely exhausted (been awhile since I pulled 36hr marathon that didn’t involve drinking and showing friends around the city!). ๐Ÿ™‚

  61. Linked Media Group, Inc.

    Twitter should have the good sense to look at Autodesk’s Third Party Developer program, which has been copied (poorly at times) by many in Silicon Valley. And, they should be careful about “cannibalizing” their own developer community. Nothing wrong with buying some of their developers, as this is seen as a positive by many. But “PR saber rattling” about where they developer should go or we will go there sends the wrong message. A “well fed” and “nurtured” third party developer program will drive significant competitive advantage for Twitter. I agree with others, Twitter needs to flesh out its platform significantly to compete with Facebook – I’d opt for more focus on building a B2B community, Facebook has too much scale on the B2C side and there is opportunity providing a subset functionality of a Linked In but with broader/richer social touch points.

  62. brett1211

    Fred and all, do you think 4sq has the potential to become a LBS platform/utility/infrastructure layer in the same way that twitter has for content and FB has for social?Even thought the 4sq is young, I’m surprised that more people haven’t jumped on the opportunity to deliver services to people that are voluntarily announcing their location to the ether. One of the biggest problems with LBS apps is the fact that I have to open them up for them to know where I am. I am always 1) on the look out for new threads, 2) a fan of indy rock, and 3) want to try new restaurants (sorry for the bad //ism) but I don’t want to open a shopping app, concert finding app, and restaurant app every time I go anywhere. Perhaps this problem will be ameliorated by multi-tasking (battery will still be a problem) but I’m still a bit shocked that more people aren’t taking advantage of 4sq as a platform (especially since you don’t have to limit yourself to it, just serve data to it’s users…).

    1. fredwilson

      yes, i very much agree with you

    2. markslater

      Again i say this for about the 100th time. Vendor participation is not built properly in to their model. I really truly believe this and we are out to prove it with a company i am working on.Location is only one piece – they are going to run in to all sorts of problems with accuracy – if vendors are going to trust this approach then they will need RFID like accuracy – not GPS – i can stand outside of any location and game the merchant – we looked at this problem over and over about a year ago. RFID is the only sure fire way to prevent the 4SQ game fraud phenomenon – which is a direct barrier to implicit vendor participation.We ended up looking at it from a very different angle.

  63. Mo Koyfman

    just jumping on the bandwagon — fantastic post today…

    1. fredwilson

      thanks moshe

  64. HowieG

    With 50 million tweets per day there is between 7 and 20 million people active on any given day on the service. That is a nice ecosystem. What I have been most shocked about is the platforms like Tweetdeck which if are 3rd party completely hurt twitters ability to advertise (thus my repetitive call for a subscription service same as what facebook has failed to do). Without the users paying we have ZERO loyalty and will leave when the next best thing comes along. Think of world of war craft. Who wants to leave after spending $14 a month and gaining level 60 all tricked out with gear? Or they should license the technology so that any company can create their own ecosystems and products vs figuring something similar to bypass completely.So I agree Twitter is at some point of inflection. I recently saw a graph in a presentation showing we are at the peak of hype for social media and soon will come the crash then will come the true utility and profitability (maybe if done right).

    1. paramendra

      Social media is not hype. In a few years we will not be using the term. Media and social media will have become one, simply media.

  65. Rahul Deodhar

    I think you are on to a (sort-of) evolution template for 2.0 start ups? The evolution template is changing is what I perceive – it is different from usual innovation and yet similar to some 80s tech startups.May be you can expand on it either publicly or simply for your business.

  66. JR1M

    “URL shorteners come to mind.”Here’s an idea: rather than building an integrated URL shortener, why not simply develop a way of embed links into the text? I was truly shocked by the absence of this feature during my early tweeting days. I mean, how can a site with a 140 character limit NOT offer this from day one? What were they thinking?! It just makes no sense. Sites like WordPress, Blogger, and even Gmail have proven just how mindlessly easy it can be to create a hyperlink. My mother is the least techie person I know, and even she figured out how to create hyperlinks in gmail. Seriously, this is as standard as internet standards get.Now, it’s one thing to make the mistake of not launching with this feature, but the fact that Twitter still lacks this is inexcusable and raises very serious questions about the priorities and capacities of the people who run the site.Consider the rationale for the new retweet system. As I understand it, a major reason for integrating it officially into Twitter was to make the site more legible, orderly, and fair. For the most part, I think it worked. Most tweeps seem to have struck an adequate balance between the old system (which is still necessary if you want to comment on the RT) and the new one (which makes the tweet more legible and gives more exposure to the original author). If the goal was to make twitter easier to read and navigate, the succeeded. But if that was REALLY their goal, why not start by adding the option to insert hyperlinks? This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder how the thought process works in twitterland.Are these guys content with having their profiles covered in unintelligible links? (No offense to, they’re awesome.) Do they really want us to choose between ACTUAL words and a link? Because let me assure you, given the choice, almost everyone will delete their comment and leave the link, and this diminishes the site’s value considerably, not to mention that it also makes it more difficult to identify spammers who do nothing but send out automated tweets with the same links over and over again.Without shorteners, it woud be virtually impossible to write and link on the same tweet. Some links would be too large, period. They couldn’t fit even if you tried posting them without a single word of actual text. It’s almost embarrasing to consider that an entire industry exists for the sole purpose of making twitter usable.A link, after all, is the equivalent of telling saying “go here” or “read this.” The irony is that twitter, founded on the principle of brevity, actually forces users to waste more precious than should be necessary for such a simple message.

    1. fredwilson

      you are right about links. i can’t say more.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      It’s easy to just do an to auto-link based on searching for valid extensions.I’s great too because it makes the domain name more prominent, and you save 6 characters not needing to include http://Could also just allow a link to be included with tweets and displaying a little link icon that’s clickable… will probably kill the URL shorteners though, except I’m sure people like the stats.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Just a secondary thought that stuck with me after poistng this yesterday…[email protected]/whatever = allow stats to similar to does.. could create public directory too, Digg-style perhaps that people can retweet, etc.. and just doing a mouseover for a javascript popup to show basic link stats info.. could show # of retweets, current popularity, maybe 1st person who posted it.. last person to post it …etc.. fun stats!

  67. Peter Renshaw

    “… But these are the obvious places to look for killer apps on Twitter Platform. If I can see them, so can many others. I think there are a number of non-obvious places, like desktop publishing was on the Mac, where something entirely new will be built on top of Twitter. And that’s what I’d like to challenge entrepreneurs and developers out there to focus on. …”A couple of problems here: Valuation. Assuming you build an Killer-App and want to sell, having a commercial company owning the platform complicates matters. You miss out on rival companies competing for your product? A big if, but worth thinking about.If building a Killer-App for Twitter is like “desktop publishing was on the Mac” does mean we have to ask for permission to innovate?Both can be deal stoppers. The first has the potential to reduce reward. The second breaks a cardinal rule in innovating on the Internet, the need to ask permission.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a concern but it hasn’t hurt zynga yet

  68. Boris Wertz

    Interesting to see discussion on Twitter today about this post – excitement about new app opportunities versus fear of existing app makers being pshed out by Twitter.

  69. unaphiliated

    The killer app already exists, it’s a cheap-reliable, easy to use portable interface into an endless cloud of prosumerism. Most will chose the iPad. Because it easy enough for a 3 year old, and desirable for the rest because it’s a cool toy, that can work as a business tool.

    1. paramendra

      The iPad is an important addition to the computing experience ecosystem, touch is an important addition to point and click, but the iPad is no laptop killer.

  70. Marcelo Calbucci

    Fred, my thoughts would not be a fit for a comment box so I wrote a blog post:

  71. Katie Morse

    Hey, Fred. Funny that I should see this post now, as I was just talking about Google Analytics with some people last night. I agree that Twitter wouldn’t be nearly as attractive of a platform as it is currently without a lot of the development that has gone on outside of the actual service itself. I’m interested to see where the future leads and am interested in seeing what innovative ideas people come up with for using, and re-imagining (in some cases) Twitter.CheersKatie | @misskatiemoCommunity Manager | Radian6

  72. sgilberg73

    Fred, I’ve really enjoyed following the comment thread for your latest post on twitter.DrinkTwits, LLC is a twitter powered platform for the drinks industry. Our flagship site is WineTwits ( a twitter powered wine community for consumers and trade to twitter about wine tasting events and daily deals, among other liquid tweets (e.g. CocktailTwits, RumTwits, VodkaTwits, TequilaTwits, ScotchTwits, etc). I was excited to see your comments on the vertical applications for twitter.Check us out. Would love to share more of what we’re learning from this beverage vertical.Steve

  73. guest

    Twitter is garbage, its nothing but spam and worthless crap. Anybody who thinks this is worth money is a fool.

  74. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Sorry about the preamble, but a bit of background:I was clearing out my archive of books last week – prompted by the fact that we are moving home next week – and amongst the hundreds of books I (reluctantly) decided to donate to the local charity shop there were a number of works by Gore Vidal.I decided to include them all in the donation bag – we want a clean, fresh start in our new place. Keeping only the essentials and also ‘passing on’ good stuff to others. Anyway, one of the works by Vidal I remembered reading many years ago, so entitled ‘Palimpsest’ – I’ve mulled over this beautiful word for a few days since and Twitter’ed the other day that this is how I see Twitter.From the feedback that simple Twitter catalysed, it seems to have resonated with a number of folk.

  75. mobeenkhan

    Excellent posting Fred! And as we know from the history of these killer apps. There will be 50-100 that will be off the wall and fail and one desktop publishing and Lotus will emerge…….lets wait and see….mobeen

  76. paramendra

    Twitter Need Get Work Done, this particular blog post of yours seems to have raised a lot of dust. They are talking about this on UK’s Telegraph, of course on the Silicon Alley Insider, and on GigaOm, and a whole bunch of other places. Talk about drama.

  77. amit nanda

    Obviously I’m way late on this thread. But then again I forgive myself. Busy working on a twitter (killer?) app!This statement resonates big time – “Facebook (and Twitter) have also spawned the social media agency business, helping businesses and brands market themselves in social nets, which may be even bigger than social gaming when you add up all the companies in it.”Doing the rounds with digital agencies in India this summer we got the idea for a new app. And we’ve just got it out – โ€“ specifically built for marketing folk to run SMS contests/campaigns on Twitter.

  78. David Banes

    The killer app is microblogging – that’s what many people have missed, just as email was (is) the killer app that kicked off when federated email arrived on the net.

  79. David Banes

    My view is that the killer app is microblogging โ€“ thatโ€™s what many people have missed, just as email was (is) the killer app that kicked off when federated email _arrived_ on the net in the 90โ€™s.

  80. rickmason

    Oh Fred there is so much irony in your mention of how Adobe and desktop publishing saved the Mac. Even more so when you speak of developers helping make a product.Today there are a lot of my Adobe brothers whom Apple will find out have a stronger tie to Adobe than they do to Apple. Twice in one career Jobs desire for total control will cost him part of the developer base that build all the cool apps that make people desire his hardware.I’ve observed that the best developers often have a very strong identification with a language and a set of tools. I am certain there will be lots of apps for the iPhone/iPad but fewer than there might have been.

  81. pcmulzoff

    I agree. Your insights are right on point. But it all comes down to economics. Where is the cash benefit to those who venture into this particular space with an idea what the ROI will be. Cash flow is king. Where there is flow, so will ideas. Great article. I’m sure there are plenty of innovators taking note of it.

  82. Ayden Byle

    the way we get instant news for example instantly from hundreds of locals when an earthquake happens revolutionizes what i call the “global collective conscience” and it pretty much topples the old silly news media models like BBC and such – this is where i see twitter being of longer term value …as well as in the “real time search” of subjects which google hasn’t turned it’s attention or resources to yet ! twitter also is a perfect conduit for forming social communities fast around common interests and goals as it’s so open and so fast and simple and searchable by keyword…in many respects i see twitter or rather its applications as way more revolutionary than facebook or google could ever be – they are such simple applications…organizing websites and creating profiles of people….quite boring really…at the end of the day it’s all about communication and communing with our fellow man …twitter is the new pony express and messages become collective and engaging – thats what its all about !

  83. William Mougayar

    What a post this was that triggered a flurry of speculation on Twitter’s direction and Chirp rumors for next week.The big shift is that Twitter doesnโ€™t want to be a one-trick API pony, whereas the API was the main entry point for innovation. They want to own eyeballs, direct end-user loyalty, and are getting geared up to monetize. At 70+ million users, Iโ€™d get worried if they donโ€™t start right away.Twitter has finally shown some teeth & aggressiveness with Tweetieโ€™s acquisition, @anywhere, enhanced homepage, rumoured meta-data/new advertising model, and who knows what else. Being a global platform and having an API are 2 different things. The platform is where the money is, whereas the API was the way to get there.Tying back your challenge to developers to up the ante and be creative, I think Twitter will raise the bar next week and show leadership in product innovation in which they had lagged so far. Twitter is now a big dog, like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and itโ€™s clear they didnโ€™t want to be subservient to anyone.I see them already crossing the $1 billion valuation range and well on their way into the $10 billion range. If they were a public stock, their price would have easily doubled this week. My prediction is they’ll produce $300 million in revenue by end of 2010. The Twitter eyeballs are screaming to be rubbed with dollar signs.

  84. Portman Wills

    I think the ecosystem analogy is invalid.Twitter is 1280-bit messages, plus an identity provider. That’s not enough information complexity to create new applications. Imagine a 1986 Mac Plus with 1 kilobyte of RAM instead of 1 megabyte — you couldn’t have build any meaningful software on it. Similarly, I don’t believe that Twitter has the “RAM” to be a platform in the way that Facebook is. I think the third-party tools will always be “hole-fillers”. I also think that’s fine, and that visions of platform grandeur might actually be doing more harm than good.Longer version of this comment here: http://blog.jointhecompany….

  85. Liza Sperling

    Fred, I work for Scout Labs, and I could not agree more: the future is bright. We will be at Chirp, and, if your insight is any indication, it should be an exciting event. I hope to see you there and meet in person. Also looking forward to hearing your feedback post-Chirp! – Liza Sperling / @lizasperling / @scoutlabs

  86. @steveplunkett

    Fred,As a VC funding Facebook Apps.. are you concerned about all the malware and phishng apps that are out there? i.e. Farmtown? (NOT FARMVILLE by zynga) at some point can facebook apps be better policed?

  87. kiichi uemura

    “The Twitter Platform’s Inflection Point” by Fred Wilson

  88. Paul Smith

    “They and many other third party products and services filled out the holes in the Twitter product and made it work better.””…for these more sophisticated apps to develop, twitter has to close up the holes and make its product simpler to understand.”The point may have been made Fred, but I have an issue with the term ‘hole-filling”, because the suggestion is Twitter always planned the key features developed by third parties, they just never got around to it.Twitter has relied on its users to create and define the bulk of its functionality and terminology. Was photo-sharing and link-shortening always on the cards for Twitter? I don’t see those developers as filling any holes, because they devised services to enhance Twitter in a manner Twitter didn’t necessarily consider themselves.What concerns me is the inference that now Twitter has the muscle, it will build similar services to compete. Of course it’s a logical step forward, but I’d hope Twitter doesn’t trample over those developers, as if it has a right to simply cherry-pick good ideas on the basis Twitter’s staff might have thought of them given enough time.It’s very easy to look at a simple idea and say “I could have thought of that!”; it takes talent to have and execute those simple ideas in the first place. Many developers didn’t “hole-fill”, they built from the ground up.

  89. VC

    Twitter should fill its own holes and capture the revenue being lost to 3rd Parties. The only reason Fred would claim otherwise is he’s talking his book as an investor in some of these 3rd Party companies.Here’s a no brainer: Twitter should have a dashboard in their platform and users should have access to the same analytics as, etc. That way we don’t have to go to 10 3rd Party sites to monitor all the features Twitter could deliver inside Twitter. Doesn’t that make sense? People are starting to get sick of using 100 3rd Party programs to make the main software function appropriately. It’s clearly a natural growing pain of the web.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t have an investment in any third party companies

  90. Brand Winnie

    Twideo Contest is working on social voting platform that combines Facebook and Twitter together and forces users to take social actions like tweeting on Twitter and sharing on Facebook. These actions are then counted as votes. We are currently expanding the platform to offer it to other contest types other than just video contests.

  91. Guest

    Google Analytics is available for free and yet none of the large analytics providers have seen their businesses suffer.I’m not so sure this is the case – I thought GA was really eating into the Omniture’s margins, and that its declining profitability was part of reason why Adobe was able to acquire it.

  92. phreakhead

    This is ridiculous. Instead of just copying 3rd-party services that already exist, Twitter should be focusing on INNOVATING! The Twitter API is so sparse and so static, they could finally add some real features to actually improve their product.Why are they just making their own link shortener? Link shorteners are just workarounds for Twitter’s character limit. They should come up with an actual solution instead of a workaround. Why don’t they just add a “URL” field that is attached to each Tweet? Most Tweets are about a single URL anyway, so why not just have the whole Tweet be an unshortened, invisible link? That way, the actual URLs are preserved so all these Tweets to interesting links can still be relevant a year from now, instead of recycling links like’s URL hashes.The current system of link shortening is transient and goes against the nature of a more permanent, semantic web. It confuses Google, and makes interesting sites harder to find and track. Twitter needs to fix this instead of contributing to the problem.

    1. fredwilson

      they announced a bunch of new APIs, including full feed, places, andannotationscheck them out

  93. Jack Repenning

    If you think Twitter is a shotgun, you’re probably using it wrongly. The powerful thing about Twitter is not the tweet, but the retweet. It’s not about how many followers you yourself can collect (and brute-force into mainlining your message), it’s about how many times your followers actually think you’ve said something interesting, interesting enough to pass onto their followers without embarrassing themselves.There’s an analogy in TV ads: I don’t know about you, but I’ve been zipping right past them since I got my first VCR. But curiously, you have to pay closer attention to the commercials when zipping than when watching (certainly, closer than when you go into the kitchen to make a sandwich!). And after a while I noticed commercials built with some image that was on-screen long enough that I got the message even at 2x speed. And very recently, I’ve started to encounter commercials that actually catch my interest enough that I stop zipping even though I know they’re not “the show.”

  94. fredwilson

    what is its approach to privacy?

  95. David Semeria

    …and also otherwise known as off-platform.

  96. Mark Essel

    Let’s not forget the value of sending folks away to information they enjoy/need (aka Google)search and filtering is where Twitter can drastically improve

  97. kidmercury

    twitter has already created a culture of going off platform (i.e. linking to whoever you want, however you want). i think monetization means to some extent they will start closing. that could be fine IMHO, depends on how it’s done. i remain skeptical a company of twitter’s size can do it properly, even if they have the best of intentions.

  98. kidmercury

    central PA ftw!

  99. Dave Pinsen

    Ajax pop-ups? You are thinking small, Charlie. They are developing video games now that you can control with your mind. Twitter should move toward accessing the brain directly as well, via some sort of headgear. You would click on the 140 character tweet, and have an option to download a whole blog post directly into your brain.You could download it in video format too. Instead of reading Tom Friedman’s latest column about the wonders of immigration, or how the next six months in Iraq will be the crucial ones, you could watch him read it to you in your head. Or, you might have the option of just having a disembodied image of his mustache read it to you, floating in space like the old Microsoft Office paperclip (“It looks like you’re interested in my latest column but are too lazy to read it…”).

  100. David Semeria

    i remain skeptical a company of twitter’s size can do it properly..Do you mean twitter is too big or too small?

  101. Mark Essel

    Hahahah, awesome Dave

  102. kidmercury

    I meant too big, but now that you mention it, you could probably make a point that they are too small — as they are smaller than google and will compete largely on the same dimensions in the long run.But I was thinking too big, in that if they were smaller, they could establish a better “government” more likely to satisfy all stakeholders. The best government is local.

  103. fredwilson

    twitter is a public service by default. they don’t promote privacy as one of the reasons to use it.

  104. fredwilson

    great comment alex