There's Something About Twitter

I watched a friend of my son sign up to Twitter this past week and get completely smitten within minutes. There’s something about Twitter. It sort of reminds me of the 1998 Farrelly Brothers comedy featuring Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, and Brett Favre and Jonathan Richman! Any film that features Jonathan Richman is a winner in my book. But I digress.

Almost every male character in this film falls in love with Mary. Each for a different reason and at a different time. But they all fall for her.

I fell for Twitter in April 2007. Josh’s friend fell for Twitter this past week. His use case is very different from mine but the experience is similar. He has 22 followers and I have a lot more than that. But there’s something about being able to have a public conversation with friends and strangers in real time. There’s something about the follower thing. There’s something about the hashtag thing. There’s something about the humor that works on Twitter. There’s something about the behavior that happens on Twitter. Twitter is fun.

I know that Twitter is not for everyone. Someone called it “niche” recently in a comment thread I read somewhere. If “niche” is 300mm logged in monthly users around the world, then I would agree. It is most certainly not for everyone the way Facebook is. But it is also not boring the way Facebook is. Twitter has edge. It has attitude. People get into real fistfights because of Twitter.

Twitter is getting a lot of negativity these days, particularly from the investor community. Maybe they thought it was the next Facebook. If so, they are wrong about that. Twitter is something entirely different. And I love it today the way I loved it in the spring of 2007 when I first fell for it.

Full Disclosure: Our family is very long Twitter. We have a material financial interest in its success. This post is not about that or in reaction to that. But it may be yet another reason I love Twitter.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Chris Mack

    I agree. Twitter is an incredible platform. And a lot of that magic is that you can reach out to complete strangers, have one way relationships (not ‘friendships’) and have real conversations that don’t take forever because you’re limited to 140 characters. Twitter is, for us, the social platform that simply works the best.

  2. Jon Michael Miles

    I switched from Facebook to Twitter fully about a year ago. Looked in the rear view a few times but I agree, Twitter is less of a closed garden like Facebook where you’re fed a small percentage of what you ask for. Not huge on the increased promoted posts, but I get that it’s a business.

  3. Steve Poland

    Twitter is the AOL Chatrooms replacement. The need never went away, just morphed a bit. Hashtags are typically like the Chatroom names (except when used sarcastically).Twitter has been my first destination each morning for several years now. March 2007 SXSW is when I got sucked in.

  4. Nicholas Bagg

    The barriers to entry are higher than on Facebook. But, I would agree, you are rewarded for that effort.

    1. Jon Michael Miles

      The quality of relationships I’ve developed on Twitter far outweigh the dialogue I have / had with Facebook friends.

      1. Nicholas Bagg

        Facebook encourages passivity, I think. Let the conversation develop instead of jumping in.

        1. Jon Michael Miles

          The initial point of Facebook to me was keeping up with my friends. As they’ve restricted and narrowed my feed it’s just become less helpful over the years. Twitter’s open eco-system is more energetic and dynamic to me.

        2. pointsnfigures

          Disagree, possible to be totally passive on Twitter. All who you follow. You don’t have to engage. Can just read tweets.

  5. Ari

    I agree entirely and am a Twitter fanatic. But the fact that they’re “not Facebook” needs to be acknowledged and reflected in the company’s product and monetization strategies. Until they can articulate why and how they are going to take advantage of that special-ness it is a liability more than an asset.For example, if Twitter is by far the best way to enjoy the SuperBowl, why isn’t that a huge monetization opportunity for non-MAUs? Why isn’t there a way for casual users to enjoy the stream without being overwhelmed etc.I’m long Twitter as well but really feel like they’ve got 6-12 months to figure this out before they become the next influential but unsuccessful technology.

  6. JimHirshfield

    There’s something about 140 characters.I can’t overstate the value of brevity and conciseness. If I tried to, I’d run out of characters before I made my poi

    1. Alex Iskold

      Touche ;0

      1. JimHirshfield


  7. Andy Schornack

    “Twitter has edge.” I like that. 140 characters, conversations, opinions, comedy, news. It’s a great platform.

  8. LIAD

    Back in the day, I remember Biz saying (and I paraphrase):Twitter is not a triumph of technology. It’s a triumph of humanity.I believe it’s as true today as when he said it years ago.I couldn’t care less about stock price, nor about investors opinions of its CEO.All I know is save for email (possibly) there is nothing I check more times each day and nothing I gain comparative business and personal value from.Due to its continued simplicity and ease of use, very hard to disrupt it from the bottom-up, as is the way with most disruptive innovation. Let’s also not forget, we’re 8 (?) years in. This isn’t a flash in the pan gimmick. Twitter is the real McCoy.

    1. kirklove

      Wow, I’d really like to see the original quote because “triumph of humanity” is some hyperbolic bullshit.

        1. kirklove

          Thanks Liad.That expression just really rubs me the wrong way.

          1. LE

            Same here. I get into rants with my wife all the time about things like that. Cute sound bites as only one example. [1] Not because people say them. That isn’t my issue. [2] It’s how seriously people “the masses” take and elevate that type of hyperbole and give it such importance. Way beyond the actual value.[1] Maybe that’s at least one reason I’m not a twitter user.[2] Good for them do whatever you can to get attention.

          2. andyidsinga

            its still hyperbolic bullshit –even when it was really said ๐Ÿ™‚ (no disrespect to LIAD for posting it..)

      1. andyidsinga

        I love that you called that out – thank you!

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        “triumph of humanity”is over the top for sure but Twitter does give humanity its first truly global-reach “shout-out from anyone to everyone” tool.

    2. MikeSchinkel

      I do care about the investors opinions of its CEO in part because they may well have the ability to drive regrettable changes. Just sayin…

  9. awaldstein

    I’m a believer as well. And a lover of Twitter.I also think that having an edge, being slightly ineffable, doesn’t mean it has to be hard–that is hard to understand or use.Case in point amongst many small companies in the consumer space without rock star known CEOs, what is there strongest channel for expanding their reach. Not twitter, not Facebook, but certainly Instagram. Easy, intuitive,understandable, immensely powerful.My advice to Twitter–care about the majority of people who could love you but don’t cause it’s too hard. Or maybe just that they don’t seem to care that it is unapproachable.So–yup, I love it.But equally questioning a media platform that doesn’t work to help the mass market understand it when they could and should.

    1. MikeSchinkel

      I need to try Instagram again. I have yet to figure it out. Seriously.

      1. awaldstein

        I honestly knew little about it till I invested and took on some temporary operational roles in a Wellness & Food startup. Such a brilliantly simply and well designed product.Eye opener.

        1. MikeSchinkel

          It seems like you need to have a need for photos to gain value from Instagram, i.e. food as one example. What I do does not benefit from photos, and I abhor the idea of talking selfies of myself.

          1. awaldstein

            It’s a graphic medium. If it is not your vernacular, not of much usage.

          2. MikeSchinkel

            Yup, pretty much what I had come to assume before now.

    2. Robert Metcalf

      Instagram is definitely the platform for growth with consumer goods. Anything aspirational, lifestyle, etc is conveyed way more powerfully with a picture than with words! My wife’s luxury skin care line has grown purely through having a great product, sharing it and her lifestyle on instagram, and having evangelical customers/bloggers who have spread the word for her. She technically has twitter and FB accounts, but they’re primarily for retweeting, favoriting, or sharing media. There’s almost no conversation for her there (it’s all in her inbox!). The one problem with instagram is that its native tools can’t handle a multi-thousand person followership. For example, notifications give equal weight to a like vs a comment, so it’s easy for follower comments to be “lost” in the response to a popular image. But that just creates a need for an Instagram management app (googling that in a separate tab!)

      1. awaldstein

        Terrific comment and the same experience I have with Lianna’s wellness beverage company.Everyone in the wellness community from gyms, to yoga studios, to coaches to fashion to body products to retail is there.For Lianna FB and Twitter are not important yet. Email big time. With some changes in the content arena to come.Name of her company? Lianna’s is LuliTonix.

        1. Robert Metcalf

          LuliTonix is making me thirsty. I’m a sucker for things with Chia in them. It’s like the tapioca balls in boba, but good for you and without making your jaw tired!My wife’s line is May Lindstrom Skin (@maylindstromskin or She intuitively baked the marketing into the brand from day one (ala Seth Godin) and it’s been a lot of fun to watch it grow. Was running out of a home studio at the beginning of the year. Now we have eight employees and 10,000 sqft of office and manufacturing space. Hold on tight!

          1. awaldstein

            Thanks!Lianna was really the pioneer of both the blended green and Chia as an inclusion in these wellness beverages.BTW–love her sight and could use with some designer referrals as we just completed a raise and that is on the docket for Q2 after a bunch of infrastructure pieces.

      2. fredwilson

        That’s right about IG but the problem is that my Instagram feed is now almost totally commercial. It seems like nobody is on it but brands and celebrities. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s all promotion all the time

        1. Robert Metcalf

          True. And IG definitely falls into the “heavily edited, for social media only” view of people’s lives.And that lends itself less to opinions. To sharing news or data. But it also lends itself to being a positive and beautiful place. My FB feed is mostly people whining about something. IG is primarily beautiful things, foods, places, or people. There’s a superficiality that comes with that, but I’ll take that over whining!I definitely value the “share anything” aspect of twitter. It can be opinion, media, you name it. And the text-primary interface makes it feel more substantive and less Web2.0 “this is beautiful but doesn’t do anything”.

          1. ShanaC

            this – i feel alone on instagram because it can feel very inauthentic sometimes for this reason

        2. Visakan @ ReferralCandy

          It depends on the circles you’re in- I know of fitness and fashion enthusiasts who love the communities they get on Instagram. There are even LGBT communities who use ‘hidden-in-plain-sight’ hashtags to find friends and flirt with strangers, it’s all quite interesting if you know where to look.

      3. ShanaC is what you are looking for

        1. Robert Metcalf

          Thanks @ShanaC:disqus. That’s what google said too, but it bears more weight coming from you!

          1. ShanaC

            I got that from a group of professional community managers/social media managers affiliated with a great startup called Cloudpeeps. They are worth talking to as you or your wife expand. A couple of people here (though I am not naming names, if they want to name themselves ๐Ÿ™‚ ) use them already, and from what I have heard from the other side, they seem happy (can’t say from their actual opinions, ask them, and I not naming names, because I am in the marketplace, and in my own head, rude to name who enters,leaves, and won work in the marketplace)Note that doing serious metrics for Instagram is hard, especially if you are paying someone for sponsorship because it is a branding play, and just because someone with a lot of followers is getting hearts/likes doesn’t necessarily mean they are the person actually driving the largest sales on a CPM basis if someone were to look at the brand overall. Feel free to contact me – my partner and I help smaller brands do this in weird situations, plus help them think about more ways of expanding out on a dollar by dollar basis. (slightly expensive upfront, but worth the cost over the long term life of what someone does in marketing) (that is not a marketplace offering above, totally separate work, and from what I hear, highly unusual, though I don’t know why.)Also, one freebee. she should look at display networks, particularly where she can run “odd retargeting”*, and blog sponsorships.(same advice goes to @awaldstien for lianna – at some point you run out of instagrammers who are worth it)*You can retarget on other people’s campaigns and websites depending o the networks. The issue is largely driven by bot fraud and the floors she is willing to pay for

          2. Robert Metcalf

            @shanaC thanks for the additional thoughts and the cloudpeeps reference. Looks like a good service for people building brands but that don’t have the need for a full-time head.Funny thing about my wife’s company is that she is yet to pay for any advertising at all, so her instagram management would purely to insure that we don’t miss comments. Hadn’t even thought about paying people to spread the brand (which we would definitely want data on to confirm benefit/ROI)! She does share product with bloggers and the like, so it would be interesting to see what social media benefit there is to that in a more specific way.

  10. Justin Gern

    The 140 characters is key. It lowers the barrier to entry for a CEO, industry titan, VC, etc. to interact with many.

    1. LE

      I guess it can be both harder and easier to get into trouble with 140 characters.Taking the “harder” side if you write a 1 page blog post there is always the chance that someone (see the hate tweets against Fred) can cherry pick a single part without including the part that nullifies the point they are trying to make. [1] So it not only takes more effort to write something longer there is more risk of someone ambushing you by plucking a single detail out of context. And using it against you.Possible, but much harder to do that with 140 characters I would think. Of course on the other side there is ambiguity of not being able to clarify your point in a short form.[1] Similar to only seeing part of a video of a crime, you don’t know the entire story you only know part of the story.

  11. Mario Cantin

    Agree with the comments below. What I also value is that it expands the definition of ‘news’ and allows in a very granular way to stay informed on whatever topic / interest that matters most to someone. It out-performs other forms of news IMO.

  12. William Mougayar

    If you asked the question, what does the world look like, or what are people around the world saying or thinking, Twitter is a pretty good reflection of that.Twitter exposes every corner of the world, and gives it a voice. Twitter is the world’s PA system, a public library, an infinite network, and many things at the same time. It is what you want it to be.Twitter: Global. Facebook: Lateral.Twitter: The World. Facebook: My World.Twitter: Use it as you like. Facebook: Use it as Facebook likes. Twitter: Decentralized, distributed. Facebook: Centralized.

    1. awaldstein

      what do you mean by Lateral?

      1. laurie kalmanson

        Facebook is known relationshipsTwitter is the world

        1. awaldstein

          Facebook within groups is the world if the groups are dynamic enough cause in some cases everyone is connected.Not true in tech, in science, in wellness–but most certainly true in a contentless and vibrant community like wine.

          1. laurie kalmanson

            People are the content; this community gathered hereTwitter feels more open to the world — less baby pix or home decor, not that there’s anything wrong with that, than facebook or PinterestTwitter: open news feed, with commentsFacebook, friends and familyPinterest, scrapbooking

          2. awaldstein

            Agree and agree again.Twitter is wonderful and hands down completely non intuitive on how to use. A great platform for business.Facebook has and will always be a mess. Unloved yet invaluable as everyone is there. Even though structurally a F & F structure, actually as it has become more a mess, less and less so. Groups are as global as Twitter is in some cases.PInterest–I don’t have any friends or companies who use it at all. I used it alot early on, no more.

          3. laurie kalmanson

            Yes to all; exactly soSlack is a useful closed tool for what Facebook tried to be for closed groupsAsana, meh

          4. awaldstein

            Closed groups make sense in so many ways, especially companies.Behaviorally though I don’t use any nor as much as they make sense does anyone I know of.

          5. laurie kalmanson

            Work or cause related — when I was active with the climate project we tried to use a facebook group; limited usefulness; threads got unmanageable, no good search toolsI was active in a closed group for women / tech — kept the noise level down by being closed

          6. awaldstein

            True–context matters.Facebook for marketing and certainly for commerce is a mismatch in most all circumstances.

      2. William Mougayar

        I mean that you need to configure your friends yourself as lateral rings of influence/information. Even Facebook groups are a sort of extended lateral ring, although I do see value in some Facebook groups that have economies of scale or a certain expertise depth by the members themselves. But Facebook makes it very hard to search for, and find these groups, btw. You almost stumble upon them.

        1. awaldstein

          Facebook is a mess!Can’t find anything. Can’t save anything. Commenting systems is a kludge.All it has–is everyone on the planet in a mosh pit.My question to you as someone who has large professional networks that proceeded either one, is where do you connect with these people?

          1. William Mougayar

            I’m having success with the Startup North group on Facebook, where I’m meeting all kinds of entrepreneurs and startups; actually many of them approach me now, instead of me seeking them. I work hard both online and offline to meet new people. New people bring new opportunities.But Facebook is largely a social/friend thing. I post some silly food or wine pics or about my dog and get 25 Likes, then I post a damn serious blog post that I’ve been working on for 5 days, and get 7 Likes. But on Twitter, it’s the opposite, at least for me: Twitter is more business slanted.

          2. awaldstein

            agree and my experience is similar.

          3. Visakan @ ReferralCandy

            Not an FB fan, but actually the search just got a lot better and you can save links/posts- click the arrow at the top right!

          4. awaldstein

            If you are saying that you can save and index the entire conversational string from any post, this is a huge step.Thanks and checking this out.

    2. Twain Twain

      Twitter is the world’s PA system — THIS.Jack Dorsey in his interviews talks about despatch radio being one of the inspirations behind Twitter whereas Mark Zuckerberg refers to yearbooks.So even at idea germination stage, they had very different views about people and information flow.

    3. Twain Twain

      Also worth watching this BBC interview with Jack Dorsey in which he refers to technology like Twitter being about “Making the world a better place FASTER.” Video is about 4 mins and it’s from about 2 mins in:*…This idea of speed ties back to despatch.Meanwhile, Zuckerberg refers to ideas like the DEPTH and context of people’s relationships and putting the other 5 billion people, who aren’t currently online, online. This video’s 5 mins long:*…They tend to be compared as if Dorsey is this era’s Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg is Bill Gates. When, actually, they’re their own people with very different sensibilities and choices from Jobs and Gates.If Twitter continues to be compared with Facebook as a social network, it will be found wanting.Also, Facebook has launched a BUY button in its newsfeeds, Twitter has followed suit with a BUY button and Google too is planning to launch one (http://uk.businessinsider.c….

  13. Tom Labus

    Twiiter is CBS News in it’s Walter Cronkite days with great correspondents stationed around the world’s capitals. And, ready to fill us in about whats happening.

  14. tgodin

    For context: I’m 48 years old. Facebook remains the platform to stay connected to the lives of family and close friends. I suspect that the majority of my FB friends are not Twitter users. I am probably a proto-typical Twitter user – finding it an incredible platform to keep in touch with people and topics I’m interested in and as a means for discovering new things. Twitter is – by and large – much more interesting on a day-to-day basis.My oldest son is 16 and Twitter – along with straight text messaging – is by far the dominant means in which he interacts with his friends.I wonder what will happen as his generation “grows up?” Will there be a migration back to FB as family becomes important again and they find that their circle of friends shrinks? I think its been well documented that people are “acting young” for longer periods of time. What will that mean with regard to their online activities?

  15. laurie kalmanson

    My middle school daughter, who Instagrams with a screen name but finds Pinterest irrelevant and doesn’t Facebok because it’s for parents believes that Twitter is where people hear newsTwitter for me is a news wire — that I curate and that I consume; other people use it more to talk to friends about where to go for lunch; that’s not good or badSome use it both waysMy kid doesn’t see anything beyond the ordinary in knowing that satellites bounce her text conversations around space, and finds the Apollo moon program to be ancient history, but she was looking over my shoulder the other day when I was retweeting posts from NASA / @MarsCuriosity, and she stopped for a moment to contemplate a remote controlled robot travelling on Mars to do geology and shoot photos, including the occasional selfie — thanks, TwitterTwitter is a curation and discussion area of the web for me — UX lists — and discovery and fun; William Gibson’s feed and NASA; and where news happens and hashtags create community: #icantbreatheMore, better discovery tools would be usefulDashboard like Tumblr would be helpful — I used to use Tweetdeck that way, to highlight the feeds I wanted to see most oftenLists are great — need to be easier to create, find, manage, share — A directory of lists / auto generated / curatedFacebook is useful for seeing the same peopleTwitter is always new

    1. Alex Wolf

      I agree that lists need to be easier. It’s the feature that makes the experience manageable and hence more usable.

      1. awaldstein

        Twitter tools are pretty unfriendly generally.BTW–you know offhand what happens when you @ or # something as in who sees what?Almost no one does which is astounding.

        1. laurie kalmanson

          Good pointThe lurching from the iPad app to opening a link in the browser is slow and disorienting; smoother and easier and better to just use the browser

        2. Alex Wolf

          And why they have the luxury of unfriendly, or want that reputation????

        3. laurie kalmanson

          twitter, like apple: how-to comes more from elsewhere than from the brand

          1. awaldstein

            probably true but Apple support in store and on phone is pretty damn good. and the forums for just about everything are awesome.twitter–dunno but throwing a series of questions out there and see what comes back.

          2. laurie kalmanson

            instore and phone: yes, awesome.”how can i x” online: apple moderated forums with user generated content are sometimes on target, sometimes not; random web search can be more helpful at times

      2. laurie kalmanson

        Discovery FindabilityRelated — easier to use in the browser on iPad than the app

        1. Alex Wolf

          Lists on mobile big fail

      3. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yes. I feel like it’s their hidden gold mine, somehow.

        1. Alex Wolf

          I have so many needs also for it to connect with what I hope will make life easier for our team – Insightly.

        2. Alex Wolf

          So I sense that same open opportunity.

        3. laurie kalmanson

          also, show the RTs and the <3 — the reblogged feature in tumblr shows who’s engaged, not just the tally

      4. ShanaC

        yes, i follow too many people, and i should clean up/make lists

        1. Alex Wolf

          delicate balance between curation and firehose. it takes less than you think to crap up a feed.

          1. ShanaC

            i like so many things and want to be nice to everyone :/

  16. JJ Donovan

    The 140 characters is a perfect size for scrolling. Someday, I am hopeful that Twitter can offer a corporate edition that can serve as an email replacement. Imagine your name on the CC: line of an email message. You could “follow it” and see all the reply all’s. Failing to follow it, you would not see the barrage of reply all’s and thus reduce inbox clutter. JJD – Wishing he could go back to Wellesley High…

    1. laurie kalmanson

      nytimes phone app looks a lot like twitter; headline/summary

  17. lisa hickey

    I have always loved Twitter in part because of the way you build your network. With FB, you start with a core group of friends and expand outward. With Twitter, I start with strangers and watch for “increasing levels of engagement” to bring people into my circle of friends. (As @ChrisMack pointed out, my daughter used to use airquotes to describe my “Twitter friends” until she saw for herself how it worked). Because of this, you can also use Twitter as a broadcasting device in ways you can’t on Facebook. When I run a Twitter Chat, it’s like a new version of talk radio. There have been times people from all over the world not only participate in conversations, but translate the tweets into different languages. That is powerful, and an experience unlike any other medium. I think that looking at ways you could better manage and monetize participatory conversations around live events would be a good exercise for Twitter or anyone else to think about.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      Finding smart interesting people aligned w my interests vs keeping up w people I used to know in high school, yes

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      +1 I think you really nailed it. Twitter is about discovering new friends. Facebook is about discovering old friends.

      1. Jon Michael Miles

        Exactly right.

      2. MikeSchinkel

        Maybe that should be Twitter’s new positioning statement to allow them to make Wall Street happier. Fred? ๐Ÿ™‚

    3. John Revay

      Once saw this quote….FB is for the friends you had in High School….Twitter is for the friends you wished you had in High School…

      1. lisa hickey

        That is funny about FB friends vs. Twitter friends being the friends you wished you had in High School. But to be clear to you @John Revay, @MsPseudolus:disqus and @lauriekalmanson:disqus — for me, it’s not either/or but yes/and. I enjoy catching up with old friends. I like seeing friends posts pictures of their families or day to day life. I don’t want a replacement for FB, I just don’t want it to be my only way to socialize. There are times—late at night when I’m exhausted, for example—when all I want to do is press a “like’ button. And FB allows me to do that—to simply acknowledge the presence of people I have known for a long time. But there are other times when I want to engage in quick repartee with total strangers. I love that the era we live in allows us to do both—any time we want.

        1. Joe Cardillo

          Did you catch Zeynep’s Medium piece about favorites, and social signals? If not I think you’d dig it, others here might as well —>

          1. lisa hickey

            Thanks! Great article! (hadn’t seen it before this). I have often said when solving challenging problems: “I want to invent the blinker”. The signal that is universally understood because it is intuitive why that particular bit of communication is important.

        2. laurie kalmanson

          yes to alltwitter has become awesome for breaking newsthink about how to strengthen ongoing engagement/community; searchability, findability: what awesome thing did you post last week that i missed? how can i find it?i say things on facebook that i don’t say on twitter; to people i don’t see on twitter

  18. kirklove

    Can’t argue it’s a beast and game changing platform. And while they got lucky and rode Facebook’s coat tails they also built a great product and executed well. You gotta give them credit for that. The future though… well the jury is still out, because Twitter itself doesn’t know what it wants to be. A communications platform? A Media company? An everything arms race with FB? Still, It’s so embedded in society now though that maybe that doesn’t even matter.In the end, for me, it all became far too noisy, petulant, and self-promoting. I did the “work” of trimming it down to around 30 people, but they ended up being folks I just text or Email with anyway so no real gain.I still check it once or twice a day on my computer for @s and DMs, but I deleted Twitter from my phone and that’s been really mentally liberating.

    1. fredwilson

      not exactly right. i saw you chat with Cory Berger and Jonas over the past few days. they are not people you text with or email with

      1. kirklove

        Totally. I’m not saying I don’t use Twitter I do. I put a link to my blog post each day there. And I def reply to folks. I just have no desire to seek out new folks or find my news there.

        1. LE

          All along I had thought that you and buster were brothers from different mothers.

          1. kirklove

            We’re more like soul sisters on “most” things. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          2. LE

            In reply, I wanted to post Lady Marmelade but I can’t find a good version. So I will post Donna Summer “I feel Love”.

          3. fredwilson

            But not on the fact that the Thunder is the best team in the NBA when KD Russell and Serge are all healthy

  19. Shaun Dakin

    Personally I’ve been spending less time. One reason is personal. I work on gun violence / gun control and the hate and vitriol of the gun “rights” nuts on twitter is insane. The other is professional. I’m a digital communications consultant and my goal is to drive results for my clients WHERE THE AUDIENCE IS LOCATED. The overwhelming DATA has facebook as the location for pretty much any audience you want to be communicating with.

    1. fredwilson

      the hating on twitter is pretty tough to deal with. my kids had fun with someone doing that to me the other day…

      1. Shaun Dakin

        Yeap…. see this and what happens every hour of every day, particularly to women who have the gaul to take on the gun industry >

      2. laurie kalmanson

        Good kidsOld saying: the comments on any post about feminism are proof of the need for feminism

        1. ShanaC

          don’t remind me

      3. William Mougayar

        I got some dose of that yesterday when my blockchain post got favorited 150 times and re-tweeted 200X, and generated tweetstorm replies from a Bitcoin core developer. I loved the openness of the discussions.

        1. Joe Cardillo

          Right, and imagine being in Anita Sarkeesian’s shoes where being told you’re wrong or an idiot is only the starting point.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Thank you. I think Anita would welcome simply being called an idiot at this point (as would Brianna Wu and so many others).I make decisions almost daily about expressing my opinion online because I don’t want to put my family at risk of being threatened by someone who has decided that I need to be silenced.

          2. Joe Cardillo

            Yep. Dealt w/exactly that in a comment above.

      4. LE

        the hating on twitter is pretty tough to deal withThat’s because of the short form. It’s possible to write anything, include a link (which could be of anything that even mildly supports a point) and then get your ass out of dodge. It’s a stupid grunt and it’s easy to do with no barrier to entry.If the same detractors tried that in a blog post (A 140 character blog post) nobody would give two shits about what they were saying because they would appear to be uneducated right off the bat. Because educated people are willing to back up what they want to say with more than 140 characters and whatever it takes. Lazy people want to just should something l like a child and then go out and play.

    2. pointsnfigures

      an aside, what if you used probability on guns. If everyone had a gun, or had access to guns wouldn’t we create a Nash equilibrium where gun violence would decrease? Most of the gun violence in poor neighborhoods is because of the war on drugs-not guns. The criminals don’t follow laws anyway.

  20. gregorylent

    twitter is so different now than in 2008 … remember tweetups?first incarnation, i had 4500 followers within 18 months .. quit for a month, started again, 1800 after three years or so ..i love the exchanges, the eavesdropping, the information .. it is my primary source of news ..incidentally, i have become free of my rose-tinted glasses regarding usa .. almost anti-american now, as the shenangians are so quickly exposed on twitter .. latest, nk/sony nonsense ..long may it fly .. and if @dickc would start using it, maybe it will

  21. mathewi

    Fred, I’d be interested in hearing more about what made your son’s friend fall in love with it. Was it just connecting with friends, or following celebrities, or some combination of the two? My 16-year-old daughter is likewise obsessed — for her it is mostly a way to argue about sexism and the patriarchy ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      +1 to your daughter ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. fredwilson

      it’s the ability to do both at the same time and then mix in strangers, all in public

      1. laurie kalmanson

        ThisAdd in some desktop/browser curation, dashboard — don’t expect it all to happen on the phone — organization, listsif you liked this, you might like this: fixed location; refer to it when i want to, not interrupting the feed

      2. mathewi

        Thanks — there is something ineffable about that ability to mix close friends with acquaintances, complete strangers and everything in between. Serendipity at work in real time — inherently unpredictable, which is good, but also potentially flammable.

        1. fredwilson

          All of that and then some. Did you see the link in my post about the guys getting into a fistfight over a Twitter argument ?

          1. LE

            Did you see the link in my post about the guys getting into a fistfight over a Twitter argument ?I saw that. And I read and tried to parse that exchange.How does that prove anything other than the fact that you have at least one person who is mentally unstable and impulsive and another who is immature? What is there to brag about that? The passion of the fucked up?I get the point that people get wrapped up in twitter and are so very passionate. (What you were trying to say.) The same way they get into fistfights at sporting events. Some sporting events that is. But not at the Opera. [1] And not movies in theaters. And not at the local Barnes and Noble. And not at a million other things that people are passionate about. I’m sure Arnold never saw a fistfight in a wine store.[1] So since we know that there are people that are passionate about the opera and the other things that I mentioned what does that tell us? It tells us that anything that is used by enough people will bring out the nut cases. If enough unstable, low class, (define that anyway you want by the way) drunk (needs not definition) or aggressive people are participating. Not to stereotype or anything.

    3. laurie kalmanson

      So many voices that hadn’t been heard

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yes yes yes. Nor understood. I have learned some really important things on Twitter.

        1. Jeneta

          Absolutely – a single hashtag can unlock an entirely new world! I love Twitter for that.Also love it for the breaking news. So many friends have set up accounts and never tweet, but get most of their news from Twitter.

      2. Mike Bestvina

        And yet as Twitter continues to grow, the voices will quietly go unheard again… (which is why kids flocked to IG and SnapChat)

    4. bsoist

      My daughter, also 16, uses the Internet for those arguments too, and she cleared out all previous tweets on Christmas day and is loving it now.

  22. Alex Iskold

    I love Twitter. I loved it even back when it was out competing & killing GetGlue. I loved it since almost very beginning, probably 2008. Twitter is by far the most useful and interesting conversation and way to get news from tech folks and around the world.That said, none of my friends are using it, and probably never will. I am one of the people who called it niche at times, although, like you said, we’d all be so lucky to have a niche business with 300MM Monthly uniques.I think Twitter’s magic is also its challenge. It is by far the simplest platform. It is way simpler than Facebook, simpler than Pinterest, and simpler than Snap Chat. It is ultimate simplicity at its best. With this simplicity comes the challenge of monetization. And that’s what the investors aren’t loving.As ROI for brands is under ever more scrutiny there is pressure on Twitter and other advertising based platforms to deliver results, and it is and will continue to be a challenge for the company.So to sum up, I think Twitter is one of those companies where the end user value is order of magnitude bigger than investor value. It would have been a lot better off, imo as a paid service like Netflix.

  23. Drew

    I just hope they don’t start instituting a terrible Facebook-like algorithm, as has been rumored in the press. I love that I control my feed and what information I absorb. It’s one of the main reasons why I spend much more time on Twitter than Facebook nowadays.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      +1 Controlling the feed will kill it, IMO.

    2. laurie kalmanson

      Tools would be good; dashboard, view by topic — I might have missed something I would really like yesterday, last week, two weeks agoLet users create tags / sorts / mini feedsFacebook destroyed my interest in it by filtering without revealing what and how

  24. Kirsten Lambertsen

    For me, Facebook was high engagement in the beginning and then rapidly tapered off until I only look at it every 12 weeks or so.Twitter was the opposite. Low engagement at first (“what’s the point?”) to now, 7 years later, a very important part of my life.I think @lisa_hickey:disqus hit upon the key reason why, which is that Twitter is a place to find new friends. Facebook is a place to find old ones. Finding old friends hits an end point and also a point of diminishing returns. Finding new ‘friends’ never stops being rewarding and does not have an end point. (I put ‘friends’ in quotes because, of course, I follow a ton of people who aren’t my friend. But I get to keep up with them, anyway.)On a side note, I feel safer on Twitter.

    1. bsoist

      I’m getting more and more into Facebook, actually. I’m learning how to tune my feed, which helps.But Twitter is still more fun.Safer on Twitter? Given what I’ve seen on Twitter, I’m surprised.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yeah, I’m not sure everyone would agree with me on the safety bit. I just feel like Twitter is less interested in every detail of my life than FB is. Somehow I feel like my personal life is more accessible on FB. Even more simply, I don’t like that people can see whether I’m on FB at the moment or not.What does FB do for you? I feel like I *should* be leveraging it.

        1. bsoist

          I see, that makes for me? Good question.I have an interesting group of friends. It’s mostly old friends who don’t live close by, but I also started sending friend requests to people I “met” on Twitter back in 2006/2007. It seemed like the natural thing to do then. So I have a lot of friends I’ve never met, but I have more in common with than IRL friends.So, I get a few things out of it …1. Keeping up with old friends. Some of my favorite FB friends are people I barely knew back in the day – and former students I didn’t really like IRL :)2. A different “flavor” feed from people I follow on other networks. I tend to like the goofy crap most people complain about.3. Messaging – I have several friends I would never “chat” with if it weren’t for FB messages4. Connecting to family – I have 1000s of pictures posted online, but I still have family ask where I am and what’s going on if they don’t see photos posted on FB. ๐Ÿ™‚

        2. laurie kalmanson

          safer, as in less shady / less selling your data / less “i said something about x and now ads for x follow me everywhere i go”every once in a while, i’ll post “glitter crayons unicorn rainbow chocolate books paper pencil fountain pen typewriter paris cheese” as a status on FB to see if the ads change

        3. Visakan @ ReferralCandy

          I used to be a FB ‘power user’- I’d spend a lot of time writing witty, entertaining or moving statuses (was so proud of the day a status of mine hit 300+ Likes). I’d participate in meaningless arguments to score points.I took a long break from it, and when I got back, I started chatting with people almost exclusively via messages. I’d scroll through other people’s statuses, and look out for ways I could help. When I resisted the urge to broadcast my own pics and statuses, and focused instead on helping others ‘behind-the-scenes’, I found that my experience of FB improved tremendously.That said, I found it hard to resist getting caught up keeping track of everyone else’s lives, so I ultimately ended up unfriending EVERYBODY. (I didn’t just deactivate my account, because I tried that before and found that I’d still think about what I was missing out on- and it was always one reactivate away.)

    2. MikeSchinkel

      Twitter is a place to find new friends. Facebook is a place to find old ones. Finding old friends hits an end point and also a point of diminishing returns.Well said. Someone else I once heard said “Facebook is where you get to interact with everyone you went to high school with (but wish you could forget.) Twitter is where you get to interact with everyone you really wish you had gone to high school with instead.”

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      Twitter also lets you find and follow ideas.

  25. imthiaz

    From my perspective ..twitter adds value to me..makes me wiser ..where as Facebook is a time pass and I don’t miss it even if I haven’t opened the Fb app for days..

  26. Matt Zagaja

    I did not understand twitter that well when I first signed up. I posted about events I attended in college and tweeted about politics. I did not really enjoy it until some of my real life friends started to @ reply me.Now:Twitter is the place I go to find things to post to Facebook. Overall general distribution and engagement of individual tweets seems low, especially if you look at the analytics. Most of my friends are not on twitter or not active on it. If I post an interesting article or opinion to Facebook it gets reactions. If I post it to twitter it’s a black hole.Yet:Twitter is the place I go to find jobs to apply to. I have both applied for and received interviews for jobs more through twitter than dedicated job search websites and LinkedIn. It is second only to direct referrals. When I was recruiting for candidates to work in my department at my last job I received as many candidates from twitter postings as I did through other channels.I have attended Meetups posted to twitter and met interesting people there.Also:Since I’m a Tweetbot guy I become annoyed when twitter doesn’t update their API and give this client equal footing with their own client.

  27. Twain Twain

    I don’t love Twitter. I get that it’s mass IM. I get that, if we want to, we can strand conversations together and we can dip into the streams of consciousness of different people around the world. I get that it can give an addictive “rush” to those of us who are soundbite and short link junkies or want to have our pulses on real-time information.However, for whatever reason, I don’t love Twitter. It’s like when a girl sees a popular, superficially good-looking guy she wants to love but she just thinks he’s missing too many qualities to make it worth her while.I posted some images on G+ which got 50,000+ views, 150+ likes and 30 reshares.My experience on Twitter simply isn’t the same and the quality and depth of information that appears in my G+ streams are a lot more engaging, thought-provoking and useful. Some really smart people are on G+ sharing materials and conversations about Neuroscience, Quantum Physics and Deep Learning.Conversations that don’t and can’t happen on Twitter.FB I abandoned after about 6 months.

    1. Twain Twain

      There’s also a lot of great photography, design and art on G+ which is displayed in ways that Twitter doesn’t do.

      1. ShanaC

        G+ is basically stopping development. I’d love to see examples though

        1. Twain Twain

          Photos like these:(1.) Kjerag, Norway.(2.) Blue Dragon River, Portugal.(3.) Red autumn leaves, Povrly, Czech Republic.(4.) Sistine Chapel by Vic Gundotra (former Head of Google+).

          1. ShanaC

            these are striking

          2. ShanaC

            where are you finding them though?

          3. Twain Twain

            On G+, I follow Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Interesting Places to See Before You Die, Trey Ratcliffe (, Gordon Laing and other photographers.This photo shows Pink Sand Beach, Harbor Island, Bahamas.The thing I like about G+ is that when I see the brilliance produced by the photographers, I can re-share and the photos attach without issues.

  28. Salt Shaker

    I was long on Twitter too, but I’m not feeling the love from the street. Yes, maybe comparisons to FB are not exactly fair, but MAU growth seems to be the metric analysts favor most, which kind of makes sense if you’re primary monetization tool is adv. I think Twitter provides a far different form of engagement than FB, but the street has challenges acknowledging the network’s qualitative points-of-differentiation, while Twitter mgt can’t seem to effectively drive subscriptions, contrary to all the love expressed in today’s post and comments. Feb earnings announcement will be interesting, but I may be out by then.

    1. fredwilson

      Ad impressions equal users * engagementUsers is only half the story

      1. Salt Shaker

        If user growth is relatively flat, then you ideally should see growth in ARPU, no?

  29. Richard

    Twitter is perhaps the most important tool on the internet. It gives you wings to fly into any conversation, into any subject, with anybody in the world.

    1. fredwilson

      Wow. Send that to the twitter marketing dept!!!!!

      1. LE

        Fred you are in, potentially, a manic state.[1] I really think you need to lighten your position in the TWTR for the sake of your family. (I get that way when on vacation as well btw ..)[1] In business a manic state is when everything seems possible and there are no barriers. You can achieve any goal.

        1. fredwilson

          I don’t want to get into the details of my twitter position but I’m not stupid. I’m long but not irresponsible

          1. LE

            Ok as long as you remember that you are an investor and not a gambler. [1] And have fully considered rationally what you are doing and have a non emotional reason for doing so. [2][1] A gambler is the guy who just turned down a great offer for something that I needed to buy for someone. A number that he will never ever get again. Ever. He’s betting that he can get more and he will very likely end up losing everything on that bet.[2] I don’t buy stocks but the thought crossed my mind to buy TWTR based on your post today.

      2. Richard

        Pass it along as your own. (adage is my recreational reading.)

  30. Rodney Holden

    Honestly, Twitter sucks. What value does it create by posting SMS messages to the World Wide Web. How different is that from group texting ? Twitter is a penny stock and it should be. No wonder the management have changed umpteen times already and people caring less about the upcoming management changes. The revenue model is like groping in the dark. There isn’t any revenue model and if they find one I bet all the messaging apps will follow it immediately. The fact that it is an alternate media did not only fly that but also landed them in a painful thump on their butts.I have seen many people excited about every new app in the market and Twitter is one of them. The excitement is very very short-lived. And I can easily tell your friends son will lose interest in no time .He probably had tons of other apps on his tablet so it looks so pathetic on you to blog about it just because you saw him excited on an other download.Twitter is in a quagmire and spinning on its butt going nowhere. Don’t hype it anymore and fool the public

    1. fredwilson

      No need to start a comment with Honestly. We expect you are being honest about how you feel here at AVC

      1. ShanaC

        honesty with your feelings is hard

      2. Rodney Holden

        You haven’t answered my question, Dr. Fred. You carefully navigate away :/)

  31. bsoist

    Been a fan of Twitter for a long time, but the way I use it and the amount of time I spend with it has changed drastically over the years. I’ve peeked at it almost every day for eight years, but I’ve used it for different things along the way.My recent fascination is watching conversations between people I follow. I am frequently amazed at how much I can learn about a topic I know little about simply by reading a conversation between others in 140 character chunks.

  32. Medicalquack

    In my simple opinion, Twitter is the only social network that “saves” me time, the rest of them “take” my time. I look at Twitter as my news feed anyway and with that comes the opportunity to comment quickly and move on to what else is on my plate that day. I don’t even bother with the other social networks at all except LinkedIn here and there but even that’s limited.You are correct, Twitter has it’s own model compared to the rest out there and I might think others too might share with the idea of efficiency. These are all communication algorithms and a while back, Christopher Steiner did a really good TED video in asking the question, “when does an algorithm cross the line from being a utility to being a menace” and I might think that question might be on the minds of many today. Here’s the link…http://ducknetweb.blogspot….It’s also part of the Killer Algorithms video collection with folks smarter than me offering some wisdom and some real education about “the real world”.…Twitter is really not out there doing any big damage to the “real world” other than chatter where as you can’t say the same about some of the others out there. Hope it stays true to form and as a useful utility and avoids the Wall Street greed plunge that’s knocking at it’s door, which will ultimately change what we like about Twitter for the sake of money. I understand Twitter should be able to make some money, so I’m not discounting that at all, but let’s keep the algorithms we like in place and not go off into virtual bot world like what has become of Facebook. Anyway that’s what I think for whatever it might be worth. Let’s not turn Twitter into a data mining menace:)

  33. Donation Dude

    Twitter is many streams media VS mainstream media: Any inquisitive mind would love it! Does this mean it will always be a niche play?

  34. Elia Freedman

    Horace Dediu, on a recent episode of Critical Path, equated social media to the seven deadly sins. He called them a “half truth” but I think some are far more truthful than others:Greed: LinkedIn Envy: FacebookWrath: YouTubeSloth: Kickstarter, ReditGlutiny: PinterestPride: TwitterLust: Snapchat

    1. andyidsinga

      woah — Kickstarter == Sloth??I don’t get it, please tell more.

      1. Elia Freedman

        Kickstarter I didn’t get at all, and I’m not on Pinterest or Snapchat, although I get Snapchat. Kickstarter strikes me as the exact opposite of sloth.

        1. andyidsinga

          my impression of kickstarter too. Dang…wonder why HD said that..

    2. ShanaC

      i find the model funny

  35. Joe Cardillo

    I think the reason Twitter works is because it’s flexible enough for individuals and groups to define their own use. Given some of the pressures of public markets, I’m not sure if it will stay that way (a la adjusting what users see via algorithm) but if you look at it side by side w/Reddit that’s one of the conclusions you come to, that giving users just enough to get started / discover but not enough to limit their world, is critical to its success.That has powerful implications, following, for example, has given me insight via form & function into the problematic experiences black women constantly have in both physical and virtual spaces.The other thing is that the social web is still mostly binary. Twitter tends to limit less than others (as Zeynep Tufekci pointed out a while back people use favorites in a variety of self-defined ways – to acknowledge, to bookmark, etc…) but the follow/unfollow, friend/unfriend, and like / dislike models really don’t reflect the diversity of the human experience offline.

    1. ShanaC

      do you think there will be a model online that accurately reflects offline experiences

      1. Joe Cardillo

        I do. My guess is that it will require some things that don’t exist in a thoughtful way right now – one is a more flexible approach to identity, which ties into anonymity / semi-anonymity, and privacy. If you caught the mass ‘ello migration, on the surface that looks like a reaction to data usage and privacy, but on a deeper level it suggests a fundamental problem with how the social web allows or encourages people to express / shape / change their identity.Another thing that needs examination is the tools that social platforms provide. They are billed as inspiration / discovery but the reality is they’re mostly treated as tools for data gathering / packaging for advertising. That won’t change until someone comes up with a better way to present ads than based on a profile, and for all the talk about programmatic, location, and other ways of customizing it’s hard to deny that most of us are still seeing the same junk that we’ve been seeing for years. I’m working on something that addresses that, and regardless of whether it’s massively successful or not I think it’s pretty clear there’s another way it’ll just take vision that right now doesn’t exist in current platforms.

        1. ShanaC

          If you ever want to get coffee about this, Love to chat. I keep detailed files in my head/various places on many pieces of this subject from many perspectives.

  36. Dave Pinsen

    Re that fight story: an interesting aspect of Twitter is the unique and spirited way black users have embraced it. If I were a black entrepreneur, I’d consider launching the equivalent of StockTwits for black Twitter.

  37. twit-er

    I am just about to delete my twitter account – they keep injecting promoted tweets for brands I despise (like Beer) and I am not getting enough value from them to tolerate those ads.

    1. twit-er

      Also, serious conversation is hard in the short space twitter allows and more than once I’ve given up trying to pare my thoughts down to conform with their rules

  38. Guest

    Fred, you quoted Twitter’s monthly uniques, but monthly uniques is a vanity metric because it says little about genuine user engagement. Surely Twitter hopes that people will use it more than once a month? That’s why Facebook reports daily average uniques, and the ratio of daily to monthly uniques.When someone signs up for Twitter it might be great and fun, as you write. But perhaps Twitter’s challenge is that over time it’s failing to generate the same level of user engagement as Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp.Bottom line: Don’t celebrate or publicize vanity metrics. (See: https://davidjaxon.wordpres… )

  39. MikeSchinkel

    I’ve recently seen lots of discussion on Bloomberg News from the talking headbots about how Twitter needs to get rid of screen names, how they need to make changes (implying that Twitter should be more like Facebook) and how they need to get a new CEO and management team.Though I cannot say for sure that the latter would not help, the former two would throw the baby out with the bathwater. Twitter is fundamentally not broken and trying to change to be more like FB won’t make it better, it will kill it.I’m not religious but I pray these investors calling for these changes do not have enough clout to drive those changes. Talk about disastrous.

  40. Emil Sotirov

    First time in human history, anyone can “hear” anyone else in the world – directly, on an ongoing basis.I can only imagine what the thrill would have been to follow (on something like Twitter) people like John Lennon or Roger Waters… back in the day.

  41. ShanaC

    I have a true love hate relationship with twitter. But that’s because you’re right – there is something about it. You love it and you hate it.It’s true of a number of USV social services (tumblr is another coming to mind) – and many being designed for today. Facebook has a sense of permanency, but you’re right, its boring.But is boring bad. Stability has something for it. You know what’s there. sort of like your favorite bar ๐Ÿ˜‰ Many social services don’t encourage that sort of relationship with the user from the get go, and thats a pity.

    1. MikeSchinkel

      What do you hate about Twitter?

      1. ShanaC

        the feeling of being overwhelmed – too many branches, too many choices.

        1. MikeSchinkel

          Ah. Yes. Certain maximizer personalities really struggle with that. I used to have that same problem.You know what resolved it for me? I realized that Twitter was like a freshwater spring. When I’m thirsty I drink from it, but when I’m not thirsty I don’t try to capture all the water, I just let it flow.I guess you also have a love/hate relationship with the Internet? ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. ShanaC

            yes I do. I’m definitely a maximizer personality among other things

  42. Alban

    To me the two key things making twitter so much better than facebook is that it’s not bijective – you can follow someone who doesn’t follow you, which drives the value of the network up – and it’s not random – your timeline mathematically follows time.Sponsored tweets added a layer of randomness, I do understand the need for monetising this way but let’s hope there won’t be other attempts at “orchestrating” the timeline as facebook does.Appart form that, I just love twitter, and I’m sure it’s here to stay.

  43. andyidsinga

    > But thereโ€™s something about being able to have a public conversation with friends and strangers in real timeSpeaking of use cases — I like twitter for almost the opposite reason. Almost never use it in real time. Love to poke around in what people are saying a couple times a week. Either way there seems to be few places on the web with such an eclectic and easily accessible mix of fun and info. Reddit and hackernews are others — but their communities don’t have as many normals ..which makes them less fun imho.

    1. ShanaC

      why do you like the delay

      1. andyidsinga

        I realized a little over a year ago that I was trying to consume a firehose throughout the week and it was a big life-distractor. So now I enjoy the web in a “slow web” mode (think slow food) ..something like that ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Robert Metcalf

      @andyidsinga, I’m with you on the delay. If I look at twitter once a week, or once a month, I miss out on the real-time, but I get the benefit of “this is what people I’m interested in” were talking about over that period. Cliff’s notes for the new/industries/whatever I’m following.Also, my social circle intersects very little with my work circle. And I follow people on twitter that are more business/entrepreneurship/industry-related, who I don’t actually know. So, I engage with them in real-time conversation much less than I would with friends. But, if I do engage, and they respond, it becomes an all-consuming dopamine rush to keep that engagement. And the rest of life going on outside that twitter discussion suffers (same is true for any “virtual” conversation that is occurring in parallel with “real life”).

  44. Matt Zagaja

    Another twitter thing I love: sending comments to authors of books as I read them, and then getting replies.

    1. MikeSchinkel

      Exactly – But I would generalize that too, to apply to anyone who creates in public but does not have more fans than they can reasonably process.

    2. ShanaC

      always awesome

  45. Rivka Freeman

    I like the compactness of the tweet message but Twitter better figure out how to send the picture with the copy if they want their investors to win. People like pics; pics aren’t sent when you click the tweet button.

  46. Val Tsanev

    Fred- I totally agree Twitter connects people in a very different and arguably much more powerful way than Facebook does and as Dick Costolo mentioned it himself “once you get it, it becomes indispensable to you”. My personal view is that the only reason why Twitter does not have a billion users yet is exactly what Dick himself highlighted “once you get it” only then it becomes indispensable and not everybody gets the @,#, dm, the limit of 140 characters etc. If Twitter management manages to redesign Twitter and make it simpler so that EVERYONE can use it with limited effort and no educational tutorials the sky will be the limit. I love Twitter and strongly believe that if that friction of complexity of use is simplified so that the path to least resistance becomes a reality for Twitter the user base will skyrocket and the stock price will stop going up and down like a cardiogram and will go one way and that is up. Twitter is much more powerful than Facebook in my mind, but process/use needs to be simplified to unlock that unlimited potential.

  47. george

    I’m a bit of a Twitter purist but first to suggest, this platform has not kept up with the pace of change. I deeply believe in their service model (on demand/real time) but now I worry that becoming a public company has shifted their focus away from user experience and platform innovation to chasing revenue ad growth. I certainly don’t know what they are coming out with next, so I’m hoping it’s something future-forward.Concern: There are numerous ways of sharing and communicating today and that in and of itself explains why Twitter’s user growth is maturing, If they just sit back and leverage on platform assets, I’ll be seriously disappointed…Twitter is really special and hopefully more profound!

    1. fredwilson

      If anything being a public company has forced them to confront the user growth issue. The street loves their revenue growth. But not their user growth. So I think being a public company is likely to sharpen their focus in the other direction

  48. Dan Conway

    Curated selectively, there is no better educational and connectivity tool. Needs to be marketed as such. Huge missed opportunity for co. and potential users. Opens your world and challenges you to be smarter.

  49. AdoptMeApp HSSV

    Twitter gives everyone a voice, including the voiceless. We use Twitter as a vehicle for adoptable pets to tell their stories and reveal their personalities, one tweet at time, connected by unique hashtags for each pet. The tweets are also embedded in the pet’s profile using a widget.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      That is awesome and smart

  50. laurie kalmanson

    smartest ad campaign and web execution I helped work on used Twitter to build hashtag virtual shelters and drive adoptions, sponsored by a dog food brand

  51. howardlindzon

    Its a fad. Much like the internet and smart phones. The future is socks.

  52. Robin S

    I had a dust up today over a blanket statement from @pmarca via a connection today. Great stuff!

  53. Robin S

    btw we closed the seed round. now onto a 5M “A”. Yes, it’s modest but we are very lean.

  54. Donna Brewington White

    I love Twitter. Even though I don’t invest as much time on it as I’d like the thrill has not diminished, nor has the value. I would have never guessed what could be accomplished 140 characters at a time.But I think that the word “invest” is critical. Twitter is something you must invest in to reap the true benefits it offers.

  55. pointsnfigures

    You are correct. It’s more raw. More like the free flow of conversation in a trading pit. In a trading pit, I could nose into, and out of or overhear lots of simultaneous conversations. In some, I would provoke, in others, laugh with, in others just monitor. If I needed something deeper, I’d grab the person and get close, or walk out of the pit and have a quick chat (Twitter direct message). Twitter is a river of information. It’s up to you to choose how to mine it. Follow junk, you get junk. What’s cool to you isn’t cool to me. Twitter disrupted the news business and that’s good enough for me. Reporters are some of the most brain dead people I know.

  56. pointsnfigures

    I haven’t been on the net a lot, but ISIS is using a Twitter hashtag so people can weigh in on how to kill the captured Jordanian fighter pilot. Sick. Arabic hashtag #ุงู‚ุชุฑุญ_ุทุฑูŠู‚ุฉ_ู„ู‚ุชู„_ุงู„ุทูŠุงุฑ_ุงู„ุงุฑุฏู†ูŠ_ุงู„ุฎู†ุฒูŠุฑ (yes, hashtags are versatile)

  57. Dudu Mimran

    Twitter is the place for hearing, connecting and speaking your mind with interesting people, many times strangers, without feeling awkward. For me.

  58. SaviourOfSociety

    Oh dear, get a real life and donate to bird sanctuaries.

  59. Eric

    Meh, I still don’t really get Twitter. Occasionally I’ll keep an eye on it during breaking news events because yeah, the feed is real time. But that’s it for me really, and it sort of baffles me that that’s the place the world decided that should take place. And it still has huge downsides that I can’t get over:1. The 140 character limit drives me bonkers. I find it nearly impossible to say anything substantive within that limit, let alone have a discussion.2. If you’re a celebrity or mini-celebrity you can pretty much tweet anything and see responses rolling in, and have any conversation you’re in the mood for. But the most common experience is to ask a question or say something and get no reply, and no indication anyone even saw it.3. Even with just a moderately sized follow list (50 or so accounts) it becomes way more noise than signal, and there are no tools for getting at the stuff I’m actually interested in, which means I’m more likely to miss it than not. Why bother?4. You have a hell of a time following any conversation that actually does take place there because they’re not nested.Facebook isn’t perfect by any stretch, but it’s much more suitable for keeping in touch with people and organizing events. And if I’m looking for really smart people having good discussions on the news of the day (or any other topic) I’ll go to Reddit, where I can much more easily engage with strangers.To each their own I guess.

  60. Jeanne Sullivan

    #loveTwitterAlso and when people look dazed when I discuss it I say, “you do not have to do one tweet, just go to the search bar to look up something you are interested in”…an amazing treasure trove of information is then before you…@Gianna212

  61. Michael Mitchell

    i didn’t realize Something About Mary starred Jonathan! just saw him a few weeks ago at Great American Music Hall. Killed it. If I can recommend anyone anything, it’s seeing Jonathan Richman in concert before you die. equal parts humor, music, charm and art history lesson!

  62. Ciaran

    As Ben Evans has said, much more eloquently than I will here, the only real ‘problem’ Twitter has is the excessive valuation it was given by its investors and its leaders. It is now having to find ways of justifying that, and risks destroying what made it special in the process.Also, if your son’s friend fell in love with it in minutes I would posit that he is one of a lucky minority: I think it takes most people quite some time ‘working it out’ and this lack of immediate stickiness is something that feeds the fact that it’s not the next Facebook and will continue spooking markets.

    1. fredwilson

      I would agree with that although the IPO price was not excessive so it’s really Wall Street’s fault not the company’s fault

  63. William Mougayar

    but that’s the same everywhere on social networks and online communities, no? you either have to be somebody or prove (over time) that you’re an expert on something, or say something provocative or spectacular to get noticed, etc…

  64. LE

    there’s a hierarchy within conversations that extends from the conversation leaders’ social status. Total upvote for that one Charlie. Same way the rest of the world works in many if not most cases.I would think though (you can confirm this) that it’s much harder to get attention on a vehicle like twitter which is short form than it is on something like AVC, Hacker News, a blog and so on. For example on a short form medium like twitter it’s hard to convey (unless you link to the 100 foot yacht that you own or your credentials as a top researcher) that what you say should matter. At least in a long form medium you can always distinguish yourself with your writing enough to get attention. You can make a compelling argument and people might actually want to hear what you say in the future. Even if you aren’t a top researcher in why airplanes crash due to wind shear. If you back up your point you actually have a chance of being taken seriously.I’m not sure that’s a concept that people who can say practically anything in short form (and people automatically think what they say is important and give them an almost immediate benefit of the doubt (other than the people who attack them for the opposite reason of course.))

  65. bsoist

    I’ve noticed this some, but I’ve found it’s a function of the people. In my experience, some people seem to never engage with people that haven’t “earned” their attention, but there are others who frequently engage with almost anyone, and I’m not just talking about people whose business models depend on that interaction. Starting new conversations is another thing. I often wish I could start a new Twitter conversation when I need some information, which almost never works for me.

  66. Joe Cardillo

    Good point Charlie – and think of what it means to people who don’t already have embedded power. I think that’s one of the chief criticisms of the social web right now, that power flows downward, and that people who have it tend to bestow it on people like them or who agree with them (and really, isn’t one of the chief reasons people are uncomfortable with Facebook that it tends to supercharge confirmation bias?)But outside of individual actions that’s also something that’s built into the structure of each platform, and there’s a difference between openness and inclusiveness… the first simply says “yes this structure can be used by you” and the second says “we’ll listen to and shape/reshape it according to your needs.” Systems need open loops, in social contexts humans need that + inclusiveness. I mean, forget the short term financial consequences and think longer, there’s something completely troubling and unsustainable about a structure that wouldn’t deal thoughtfully and expediently with an entire group of users receiving death threats (you only have to take a quick look at Anita Sarkeesian, Gamergate, and what life is like online for women of color to understand how problematic that is).

  67. awaldstein

    The hierarchy is way more prevalent on Twitter than Facebook.Everyone has friends. Not everyone has cred.And Twitter much more so than Facebook is one to many, more a follow than a participation. For most.

  68. MikeSchinkel

    there’s a hierarchy within conversations that extends from the conversation leaders’ social status. But really, aren’t you just echoing human nature here?

  69. andyidsinga

    hmmm – sounds like an opportunity for some predictive analytics on avc comments to answer: what element on conversation here on avc most predicts a) getting a Reply and b) getting an up/down vote.

  70. Mike Bestvina

    Twitter to me, feels like a second manifestation of high school. I *can* move within social circles but it requires effort.Facebook is my pre-existing high school, just more well defined in a digital world. I have little opportunity to move within a pre-existing defined social structure by digital means.

  71. LE

    However you have more of an opportunity (my comment above) if you have more room to make your point and convince people that you should be taken seriously.

  72. lisa hickey

    Or you can simply find ways to add value in some way to every conversation you join in. Figuring out ways to move the conversation forward is one of the most useful skillsets of our time, IMO.

  73. Dave Pinsen

    If anything, it’s probably less true of Twitter, because responding to a tweet requires so little time.

  74. andyidsinga

    you certainly don’t have to be “somebody” on twitter ..and there is a good chance a few hundred people ( and robots ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) will be interested in what you have to say.

  75. laurie kalmanson

    especially among the cognoscentiwhat’s so awesome about the web in general and twitter in particular is that there isn’t just one cool kids table, there are many; you can even make your own @fakegrimlock

  76. Richard

    Brevity is a valuable currency

  77. fredwilson


  78. LE

    See there you go my DX above is confirmed.

  79. Richard

    The skills involved in whittling a position into a tweet will soon be studied, measured and validated. twitter will be as ubiquitous in the classroom (to demonstrate proficiency) over the next 10 years as excel and word were the last 10 years.

  80. LE

    I’d hate to see that happen. What a step in the wrong direction.Separately, the fact that people need to take a class to learn to use something like excel or word is like the fall of the roman empire to me. Applications like that? You [1] should be able to learn those on your own and not have to be taught those skills in a classroom setting. We aren’t talking about karate, tennis, skiing or playing the violin. Or something that takes advanced aptitude. Of course I can see why people living in 55 plus or retirement homes might need to have a teacher. But not others.Why don’t they study that? Take a group of kids and split them in two. Offer rewards to both upon learning Excel, Word and so on. My guess/bet is that the people who don’t attend class will be able to do a better job per time spent than people who do attend a class.[1] The majority of the people for the majority of typical uses.

  81. twit-er

    I really hope that doesn’t happen. People seem to be losing the ability to hold a thought for more than a minute. I think we need to buck that trend. Its not all about faster and shorter.

  82. Visakan @ ReferralCandy

    I’m hoping Twitter and the rest of tech transforms or even disrupts the concept of “classroom” altogether!

  83. ShanaC

    i’m not sold, otherwise tweetstorms wouldn’t have become a thing

  84. twit-er

    yes but who really cares what the cool kids are drinking or what food is on the plate in front of them?

  85. twit-er

    and if you can’t do that in 140 characters then who needs you?

  86. ShanaC

    incredibly difficult one to master, personal opinion as well

  87. laurie kalmanson

    thought leaders, sneezers, influencers; these are real things

  88. Richard

    I think weโ€™re getting close to that tipping point, where social starts to get plugged into other parts of the organization as a layer, rather than as a freestanding department. This is because the strategic imperative for social can often transcend marketing, and intersects, aligns, or overlaps with many other divisions of the enterprise:jay baer

  89. ShanaC

    excel has advanced functions involving VBA so that makes sense to me.. word also has macros that I don’t know much about. Other than that, agree

  90. Richard

    The chances of that are slim and none and that was slim who just left the stage

  91. Visakan @ ReferralCandy

    People have been saying this for thousands of years! There are still novels and longform essays being published everyday, now more than ever.

  92. andyidsinga

    ๐Ÿ™‚ you’re probably right. I wonder if “total # of comments” is one of the top predictors (removing Fred from the analysis of course) ..where is @ShanaC – she could probably build a cart model of AVC comments in an hour :)[edit : I’ve forgotten how to use Disqus @ replies.. doh ]

  93. LE

    I’m very surprised mine is the top comment todayIt was upvoted for several reasons.1) You posted it very early on. That definitely makes it more likely to gain initial upvotes (less competition) and those upvotes insure further upvotes.2) Use of “echo chamber”3) Halo. Everyone has noticed that when a somebody makes a comment on AVC (like Seth Godin) it seems to get plenty of upvotes. Noting that I had suggested as an experiment that a “Seth” try to post the same comment as a nobody and see what happens. Not that it matters because the answer is obvious given the halo effect.For that matter I am more likely to upvote your comments simply because I am more likely to read them then a comment from someone that I have already decided has nothing important to say (which I will typically just scan). And I (and perhaps others) would tend to be more skeptical of someone who is posting for the first time or not recognized or perhaps their avatar (or lack of one) creates a feeling of non importance.4) JLM is gone. Someone has to get his upvotes.

  94. SubstrateUndertow

    Social media = the new general purpose social glue ?

  95. ShanaC

    i couldn’t, plus data out is surprisingly hard to get.there was a study done – and actually just be inflammatory.

  96. ShanaC

    No cart model! You’d have to find a way of weighing the comments independently for value outside of notions of who is attached to them, and then also weigh the threads as well to make sure a comment in a thread isn’t being up voted because something higher up in the thread has a high value.(and note to self, get math tutor so I can build complicated models to do this stuff, since apparently I’m the person expected to do this stuff locally…Also, why is that?)

  97. ShanaC

    that’s it, after holidays I need to write jlm an email, anyone with me

  98. LE

    Well as Hirschfield pointed out it was after the comment thread on immigration. My guess is inspection of that thread will yield some theory on why he left. I have my own speculation. Or perhaps it happened offline in an email exchange after that thread. Because I find human nature interesting I’m curious on several levels.On the one hand if anything I think it shows plenty when the community doesn’t seem to care enough to say anything, mention or ask why. Shows how ephemeral communities are.Of course whatever reason he gives may not be the actual reason.

  99. Visakan @ ReferralCandy

    My experience- I’ve had tweets replied to, shared and retweeted by prominent high-status folk despite being a relative nobody. On far more occasions than I expected likely, considering the volume of tweets many of those people have.If I had more status, I would be replied to more frequently, for sure. But I think that’s primarily a function of how humans work, not Twitter in particular. Could be argued that the character limit brings out the snap-judgement- I’ll concede that. But I think that’s a legitimate tradeoff that Twitter chooses to make, and I think there’s a net benefit we all enjoy because of it. My $0.02.

  100. LE

    I’m no SethI wasn’t saying you were “a Seth”. I was saying that this statement that you made:if you’re not perceived to be within a certain status, circle, or level, it’s unlikely your contribution will be reciprocated, regardless of its quality or relevance….rang true with people. Which is why they upvoted you. Then I gave an example of someone (Seth) who at least from my recollection gets a large amount of upvotes whenever he drops by.Which proves one of my points about what I don’t like about twitter.. In writing a short comment [1] you misread what I thought I was saying.. Imagine if it had only been 140 characters, ambiguity leads to different interpretations.[1] For example even though I could have been clearer, if I was writing a longer “essay” then you would have triangulated what I meant from others things that I said. So you would have know that I wasn’t implying you were “a Seth”.

  101. ShanaC

    i think I may have made it worse, but that thread was out of control, and there were a lot of regulars that don’t show up to political threads. *sigh*

  102. ShanaC

    referralcandy does not mean you are not a nobody. (just saying) I’m far more of a nobody than you are

  103. ShanaC

    what about jay baer

  104. Otis Funkmeyer


  105. Joe Cardillo

    Yeah there’s a lot to unpack, I don’t necessarily know what comes next but I see a lot of problems with how power is described and then passed on, and it’s not all individuals some of it is set up by the structure. Anita has received a bunch of death threats, the one below in regards to a talk she was going to give in Utah but I also recall screenshots from her DM inbox with specific threats, her address, and details about her home and family. Pretty disturbing stuff. http://www.washingtonpost.c

  106. andyidsinga

    > weighing the comments independently for value outside of notions of who is attached to themhmm. In a way the whole exercise is to try to figure this out with the data available, no?Of course, it is good to ask the question about if it should be done at all ..if it would just serve to be inflammatory etc.

  107. Susan Rubinsky

    cred is built by consistent quality engagement, even if you are an underling.

  108. awaldstein

    Without a doubt I agree.How you parse being interesting and being important is of course part of the reality.I advise my clients that just content. Just being interesting is not enough.