Twitter's Moment

Ben Thompson has penned the bull case for Twitter the product, Twitter the company, and Twitter the stock in a blog post carrying the same title as this post.

Those who have been reading this blog over the past few weeks will know that I share Ben’s views and have articulated similar ideas on this page. It should also be stated that I am long Twitter the stock and subject to whatever emotions, conflicts, and other bad behaviors that generates.

Ben ends with something I have not articulated on this blog before but have felt since the day I sent my first tweet, and that is the notion that there is something special about Twitter:

There’s just something different about Apple, a company that seems so full of contradictions yet one that has continued to lead the industry both financially and in key innovations. I’d argue the same about Twitter: it doesn’t make sense, hasn’t really ever made sense, and perhaps that’s the reason it, and the irreplaceable ideas it contains, are so important.

I realize that I am horribly biased on this topic and that others may not see what I see. But I have always felt that Twitter is a special company, full of conflicts and contradictions, that, maybe because of them, had the potential to deliver something unique, different, and compelling. And I continue to believe that.


Comments (Archived):

  1. gregorylent

    twitter the company seems unable to grasp that twitter the product is managed by its users, not by company managementwho i follow is my whole experience .. twitter the company can only get in the waythis is a new concept perhaps, especially among the sv home run ipo crowd .. they’ll adjust .. it’s the future .. be a good utility, and keep quiet, in short .. true service .. how novel 🙂

  2. Simone

    Twitter is the only global communication utility that we have, and still don’t know what to do with as a global community, but we will get there in time and it has the potential to be much more important than Apple. As is the case with internet after 25 years, we use it like a child would play with a intergalactic spaceship, randomly pushing buttons on the control panel.We will get there, I can’t wait.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Maybe the UN should buy it.

      1. Simone

        🙂 subtle irony?I would keep it as it is, appearing to belong to the people. (most content) created by people for people.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          It belongs to shareholders like Fred. You mentioned “utility”, which raises the idea of it being run like publicly-traded power utilities are in the US. Shareholders still own them, but utilities, as natural monopolies, are regulated and run differently than typical companies.

          1. Simone

            I know twitter is a plc, therefore my use of ‘appearing to’. It feels like a public utility to users, and to me this and global coverage are the 2 magic ingredients of twitter. As a shareholder, I would cultivate maintaining this feel very carefully. Nothing kills a media platform faster than affiliation.

  3. awaldstein

    Jobs knew what Apple was about and ruthlessly threw out all the products that weren’t core and focused on innovation.I’m a Twitter believer but I”m not at first usage seeing Moments as core to who they are.That’s the conflict that doesn’t resolve to me their situation.

    1. Stephen Bradley

      Moments isn’t core to who they’ve been, but I think it’s the layer that makes Twitter accessible to the broader population.

      1. awaldstein

        You are implying that a successful Twitter is something completely different that who they have been in the past.Platforms don’t become great or mainstream or ubiquitous by layers, they become part of life by being undeniably whatever they are to the broadest segment of the population.You could be right. I just don’t see Moments as taking the obsessed mainstream Facebook or Instagram user, or the companies that use those platforms and refocusing attention.

        1. Stephen Bradley

          I don’t disagree with your second point, but I don’t think I’m making the implication you suggest. I think Twitter will still be Twitter. I just think Moments will be the lens that some people use to see it through. In Twitter’s implementation, it’s more for the watchers than the creators or participants. Kind of like the NYT lens into Twitter for the morning commuter. That’s not a bad thing, though, because all participants start by watching.

          1. awaldstein

            I appreciate the challenge so thanks.I wake up and check my Twitter feed after my inbox and this community.Millions of people wake up and check their Facebook feed for news and for certain their instagram feed to see who the 30 new followers are.Active behavioral reflexes and that is why they work.I get the NY times metaphor and I read it online every day. It is way down the list and often, I’m driven there from somewhere else.AndI’m just disappointed honestly that Moment’s feels like it is thrown together.A Google, not Apple approach to understanding the market. For a company with massive resources and customer data, why does this feel like a beta launch? That is not in my opinion how to win the market.

          2. laurie kalmanson

            I miss tweetdeck; it gave me channelsTwitter is awesome, someone said it lets you know people and cultures you don’t know, vs Facebook, which is the chronicles of people you do know. I love that @marscuriosity and the social media geniuses working with the engineers post things like postcards from Mars, “greetings from gale crater” along with science from another planet, and that a fan-fic tribute account, @sarcasticrover is part of the ecosystemTwitter brings the world to me — other voices, other views.Twitter also has too many bots and spam marketers and growth hackers and cynical people doing things that are not constructive

          3. JamesHRH

            Most worrisome, I think Moments is a knee jerk reaction to Snapchat Stories.

        2. William Mougayar

          I agree.Moments is more like a feature to an existing product than a product itself.

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            What is Twitters core product ?To me twitters core product is topical discovery via distilling a list of motivated/educated/hard-working discovery miners to dig into topics on your behave with a dash of topical ping-pong follow up.Moments simple automates that core function by further distilling/surfacing the best topical miners that can then be organized into more personal/customized follow lists.Even with news/events the user gets leads on who/what is worth following.

          2. William Mougayar

            But that content is from big publishers, not user generated content.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          “…don’t become mainstream by layers.”But haven’t you been involved with or seen products where marketing involves educating the user. Helping them to see things a different way?

          1. awaldstein

            yes, I believe you have to sell something new to users.i’m not getting it, that’s all

    2. obarthelemy

      I’d argue that Apple hasn’t been about innovation for a long while. They’re about sexy + easy, with a healthy dash of lock-in. What innovation there is serves these 3 principles, not the other way around.They are very consistent indeed.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        So making things sexy & easy has nothing to do with innovation ?If that were the case very one would be making things that are as sexy/easy as Apple products.

        1. obarthelemy

          ?- I specifically say it does, a bit- mostly it’s about relentlessly focusing on sexy&easy&lock-in, many OEMs get sidetracked by features, price, differentiation, durability…- getting sexy&easy right is not easy, but mostly it’s not innovation, unless you count gold casings and less-than-a-day batteries on glass phones that break at first fall and that can be held wrong as innovation. It’s also rather self-reinforcing.

    3. LE

      Many things had to come together for Jobs to execute that strategy. High speed broadband is certainly one of those things. Lowering of manufacturing costs is another. Jobs executing the strategy that he did back in 1993 wouldn’t have worked. (Prior to when he went back July 9, 1997).Apple no doubt added all of those products “and the kitchen sink” because they couldn’t get enough sales (or profits) of/from the core products. This isn’t that unusual. Look at what Amazon is doing with AWS? They are rolling out products left and right. (Quite the clusterfuck). They aren’t trimming they are adding. Look at a typical long tail ecommerce site. Sure some people just sell razor blades and if they make enough money selling just razor blades they typically won’t branch to selling the kitchen sink as well.Twitter added moments because the current formula isn’t working. Ditto for whatever foursquare did some time ago. Extremely rare to mess with a winning formula (and you know that obviously). Messing with your core product or service is done either when you fear the cash cow ending or when there is no cash cow.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Some things are required to support an ecosystem so that the main values can succeed.E.g. If Apple didn’t create an OS and just product, or they didn’t have the OS pre-loaded with their own programs to make it useful enough on its own, then it would have been a different game.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      Moments. I’m not a believer but I will say that every time I look it is 60 seconds well spent. Not everyone who is a seasoned user will commit to 60 seconds a day but that is an investment I’m willing to make as a devoted user. (I stay on longer than 60 seconds if I see something of interest. If not, it’s only 60 seconds and I know more than I did 60 seconds before.)But the real value of moments will be to possibly hook those people who have wished they could understand the value of Twitter but just don’t get it. Who have maybe tried and given up. Twitter needs a hook. It’s how they market Moments and reward usage that may make the difference.Speaking of rewarding usage, maybe some sort of gamification. Regulars experience this with favorites and retweets. It’s rewarding to watch the notifications come in after I’ve posted a tweet. Maybe find a way to give newbies that experience to help them catch the fire.

      1. laurie kalmanson — gathers a stream into a channel; been around for a whileif twitter put 10 of these on my homepage, by topics/keywords, i would like that

      2. JamesHRH

        The problem with Moments is it is even more inside baseball than regular Twitter feed.As it is primary season in a couple of months (Wow, electing a President is getting to be a grind), the oldest politico maxim applies:’ IF YOU ARE EXPLAINING, YOU ARE LOSING.’Moments has to be explained, ergo, its a loser.

  4. jason wright

    the human condition drives everything, and it often doesn’t make can Moments work in the age of the blockchain? Twitter is a blockchain.

    1. awaldstein

      the human condition is the only sense.that’s exactly the point about product development and market acceptance.

      1. jason wright

        and so it’s art.the irrational human gives birth to the irrational, the success of Apple, the ‘success’ of Twitter.

        1. awaldstein

          understand this now thanks don’t agree though.there is nothing irrational about apple. its creativity with calculated intent. its vision based marketing understanding that the mass market buys by brand and is comforted by their own sense of potential.their products are art.i see little that is analogous to twitter at all.

          1. jason wright

            :-)and yet their own sense of potential is thwarted by choosing Apple, a closed system that discourages open exploration and growth and diversity (in the particular way i see it).With Moments i see Twitter doing exactly the same thing, trying to create conformity from diversity.The nature of the legal entity we know as a corporation is the ‘dark matter’ force at work here.the garden calls…

          2. awaldstein

            i see apple differently.a closed system has noting to do with disccouraging is all about individual human are confusing how a platform is designed to how the consumer uses it. you are thinking like a developer not a marketer.which is fine of course.but to say that the market and the users see apple as thwarting exploration and growth is not correct.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            In many ways a closed system is a real pain in the backside, running up the backbone to the jaw and grinding and cracking teeth, between the ears, spreading across the forehead, and running down to the toes, for both developers and users and no doubt also at times Apple as they try to keep up with the best of the activity on an open system.

          4. awaldstein

            not to the market it isn’t.the majority of apple customers have no idea what those words mean.

    2. Matt Zagaja

      After learning a ton about blockchains over the past week I can definitely say twitter is not that.

      1. jason wright

        in a sense it is, a human blockchain, but not the technical blockchain you’ve spent the last week learning.Twitter is a ledger, where people transact, and it’s public.

  5. Twain Twain

    This is SO amiss: “There’s just something different about Apple, a company that seems so full of contradictions yet one that has continued to lead the industry both financially and in key innovations.”NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.The entire genius of Apple is that it is NOT full of contradictions. Instead, it is full of INTEGRATED CONSISTENCY (horizontally and vertically) and it’s emotionally compelling and has been from the start.Read product materials from Apple’s earliest days and watch Job’s interviews.I have no comments on whether Twitter has the same potential as Apple.I will say that every single touchpoint of interaction with Apple — whether as a user or as a developer or an investor / strategic partner — has a lot less friction than with a lot of other techco’s, including Twitter.Ok, aside from pointing out Apple’s clear, consistent and amazing strategic DNA (not to say that I think their Watch is there yet as a wearable which is why I haven’t and am not buying one — yet) I’m going back to lurking.:*).

    1. Stephen Bradley

      I agree with you on Apple… they have been the antithesis of contradiction from the start.

      1. Humberto

        Yes. Google (doing searc but also content, and also hardware, and other crazy stuff) and Amazon (selling everything but also building stuff) are far more inconsistent than apple

    2. Douglas Crets

      Maybe from an operational standpoint, but I think Fred is talking from a culture and consumer use case fit. IMO.

      1. Twain Twain

        The problem with Twitter’s culture and consumer use case is that —unlike Apple — the founders’ roles, responsibility and ownership (equity as well as decision-making) were NOT defined or made sense from the start.Last week I finally read Bilton’s book ‘Hatching Twitter’ so now I have more context.When we look at Apple, Steve Jobs had a clearly different role from Woz and they were great at doing the two-legged men race because they synched their complementary strengths and worked those limbs in unison. It’s only long after Steve Jobs’ death that we hear Woz even discuss that Jobs didn’t do any coding.Whatever issues the founders may have had with each other, Apple’s founders showed a unified front and that unification reflected in the product and the way it was marketed. We saw Steve Jobs and he was a phenomenal salesman and integrator of the moving parts (UX, software, hardware, supply, design etc). We see Woz in talks and he’s a genius hardware and software guy.Ditto UNITY when we look at the origins of Google with Larry Page and Sergei Brin.Ditto when we look at Facebook’s origins, we can clearly identify a leader with a specific and unified vision: Mark Zuckerberg.What we see in Twitter’s origins story are FOUR people all angling to do the same job (Product) and pulling the culture of the company in 4 different directions and then patching the product+company together as they patched up their differences so the product strategy and company culture is never quite unified or coherent.When we compare Evan Williams, Noah Glass, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey’s respective definitions of what Twitter is, there are value differences.Yes, conflict can be productive. However, Twitter unnecessary disadvantaged itself by self-inflicted wounds because instead of focusing on the user, the founders were busier competing amongst themselves over who owned and originated Product.That right there is NOISE, so if Twitter the product is noisy it’s a reflection of founder noise.On AVC, only @fredwilson:disqus will know more than Bilton about what happened in the first 5 years of Twitter and whether founder disunity affected the way the founders operated and positioned their customer use case.Few people would disagree that Twitter is a special company and hopes it does well after its recent turmoils.The question is whether now that Jack Dorsey is CEO he has the mandate to INTEGRATE & UNIFY the moving pieces of Twitter the company, the product and the business. The mandate depends on the board, the reporting lines amongst mgmt team and the general morale of staff as well as users (power and newbies).Imo, there is already clear product discord and inconsistency. In April, at Oxford Union, Jack Dorsey talked about how some founders are interested in space (maybe referring to Elon Musk, Google founders and Zuckerberg). He says he’s more interested in the human mind.Yet what do we see in ‘Moments’ product marketing? An abstract shot of space.How does that relate to the ordinary new users Twitter is trying to attract with ‘Moments’? How many of them will see that bit of marketing and go, “Oh yeah, space news is really relevant to me. I must go sign up on Twitter.”Not as many as if ‘Moments’ had launched with a person’s face with #thinkinganddoingthisrightnow.’Moments’ may be Twitter’s “moonshot” but they certainly didn’t market it at all well. That’s an example of lost communication and conversion opportunities.Remember, this is a PUBLIC company with seasoned executives — not some scrappy startup where the founders don’t yet have the knowhow, talent and capital to execute what are BUSINESS FUNDAMENTALS: Who are your customers? What do they want? How do you deliver that to them?If Jack wants to position himself to be an Editor like Steve Jobs, it’s those little details and the COHERENCY of the product story to users, developers, investors, clients and partners that he’ll need to be able to do simultaneously and do as brilliantly as Steve Jobs did and had done from the very start.Analysts really shouldn’t compare Twitter with Apple because, actually, it sets Twitter back in the same way that Twitter compares poorly when compared with and positioned near Facebook.Someone on Twitter’s board needs to point out the most minute details where the strategy doesn’t make sense — whether that’s in product, marketing comms, finance.APPLE MAKES SENSE. That’s why they make boatloads of money and people happy.

        1. Twain Twain

          @donnawhite:disqus – The above is what I mean by Apple’s company culture is different from Twitter’s culture.There was a post on LinkedIn a few months ago where the writer discussed the death of the ‘Alpha Leader’ (the Murdochs, the Carnegies etc.) and the move towards ‘Consensus Leaders’.There’s also Pando’s ‘Venture Capital and the Great Big Silicon Valley Asshole Game’ which lists a number of the notable CEOs of today from Uber to Snapchat:*…Personally, I prefer and am inspired by leaders in the mould of Elizabeth Holmes (she’s amazing):*

        2. Twain Twain

          @domainregistry:disqus – Ok, I made a comment on whether Twitter should be compared with Apple.@wmoug:disqus — it’s Mondrian vs Da Vinci as I wrote. Both are about integrating art and science and the Golden Ratio.See this piece of Mondrian? Read Jack Dorsey interviews.”Before Twitter hatched, Dorsey’s lifework focused on developing dispatch software to track ambulances and taxis to visualize where they were and what they were doing. As he’ll tell you, he fell in love with visualizing cities to uncover what did and didn’t work and also how to invent solutions to streamline the system.In 2000, Dorsey realized that his work was missing something vital to these cities, the very citizens who populated them. Like ambulances and taxis, he wanted to better understand where his friends were and what were they doing. His vision was to capture and share experiences in the moment, “If I were in the middle of Washington Square Park, I could share the experience in real time using a mobile device. But in 2000, it was a bit too early, and the idea didn’t work out so well.”Mondrian is exactly the grid layout of NYC. Washington Sq is around where the red box is and Times Sq is around where golden yellow box is.Twitter is a global digital version of the billboards of Times Square.@fredwilson:disqus – I wonder if any media commenters and analysts like Ben Thompson ever made this mental connection before? Haha.

        3. JamesHRH

          That you have gotten religion on simplicity, consistency and coherency makes me wish I could buy equity in your career.Larry – breadth of detail + ambition….Sergey – simplicity + consistencyMark Z – breadth of detail + ambition….Chris Hughes (wildly overlooked) – simplicity + consistencyWoz – breadth of detail …….Steve – ambition + simplicity + consistencyThe bottom line is simple – did Jack jump on the front of a pair of speeding trains (Twit & Square) or is he the engine that pulled both of them forward?We are about to find out, with the whole world watching.Getting what you asked for can be scary.

          1. Twain Twain

            Ack, you’re too kind! I have such religion on simplicity, consistency, coherency and things making sense I branded my system…SENSEUS. Lol.Equity will be available first in the IoT system, though. That’s called SYGNYLS.Can you spot running theme story of my life? I’m really really into solving signal:noise problems — whether that’s in Machine Intelligence, content+context, economic models, IoT, understanding how human mind works etc.You wondered on the other Twitter Moments thread whether Jack reads AVC because the answers are right here.Earlier today I tweeted the link to that post and this one to Jack and Ben Thompson.The discord at Twitter isn’t just about the founders. Look at how unified Google, Facebook, Amazon’s board and investors are.Only Twitter has Chris Sacca, Fred and other investors taking public shots at each other.That’s noise too.After Dick Costolo stepped down, a key board member should have reached out to all the known investors (especially the social media active ones) to say, “Please give us a time window of 6 months where NOTHING you communicate affects the perceptions of the share price and drives it in a direction neither of us wants.”Just as the Prime Minister has Whips to get the politicians in their party to “toe the party line”, so companies like Twitter should have Whips to get investors with direct relationships into them to “toe the company line” because it’s in all their interests.That would have prevented share price drops throughout May to Oct.Yes, Chris Hughes and I’d also say Sean Parker. There are lots of highly educated and competent people in tech —And then there are the strategic, cerebral pragmatists and Sean Parker is one of those as is Marc Andreessen. At the same Le Web conference, I heard Sean Parker, Marissa Mayer, Eric Schmidt, Karl Lagerfeld and Phil Libin speak.For me, Sean Parker blew everyone else out of the water in terms of intelligence.Jack Dorsey doesn’t seem to have that type of mentor around him.

          2. Twain Twain

            And now…Venturebeat…has a view…*…@fredwilson:disqus @wmoug:disqus @donnawhite:disqus @domainregistry:disqus @disqus_Awy3Cl8ObF:disqus @disqus_fA9gfWLxjc:disqusAnyone who assumes the mantle and comparisons with Steve Jobs will simply make life harder for themselves, imo.Just. Be. And. Do. Yourself. NOT. Derivative. Me. Too. Clone.@JLM:disqus – how’s that for a couplet? :*).

      2. Twain Twain

        Here’s another difference between Apple and Twitter.

        1. ShanaC

          not totally – it broke posix compliance 🙂

        2. Twain Twain

          ‘New Yorker’ writes: “As for whether he was right, we can all decide for ourselves: many of us own his most beautiful piece of work, the iPhone. Using it, we can ask ourselves whether its deep technological coherence constitutes, in itself, an artistic achievement.”Note the words DEEP TECHNICAL COHERENCE.*

      3. JamesHRH

        Twitter reflects the real world in that it is completed conflicted and dysfunctional, I’ll give you that one.

    3. LE

      I have no comments on whether Twitter has the same potential as Apple.Like comparing Oranges and thermopane windows.Apple solves a problem and makes things better in a way that has obvious tremendous benefits. That is why they are now (wasn’t always the case) making money “hand over fist”. There is an obvious and immediate benefit to using what Apple makes over what others made that results in a better experience of tremendous magnitude. Which extends way beyond the brand halo (that so many detractors cite). The fact that many of the things that Apple does now that you can do on others products? Well it’s often forgotten that w/o Apple we’d almost certainly still have shitty cell phones.Twitter you could say has a niche benefit to some people “I could get the sports scores quickly” but how important is that? It’s not. Ditto how important is it to know that there was a mass shooting in Oregon unless you happen to be one of the few people that needs to know that type of info? There isn’t a reason. Most people can wait to find out (if they need to know at all other than infotainment) until they watch the nightly news or read it on a traditional news source on the web.

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Oranges and thermopane windows – both dependent on sunlight;)

      2. PhilipSugar

        In my mind Apple’s biggest strength was ignoring the CIO. The CIO didn’t want apps on phones, they wanted to lock them down. Blackberry was the CIO’s choice. Same for tablets and laptops. CIO’s wanted all sorts of control. Also they wanted cheap. Nice aluminum cases?? Hell no what is the price, give me shitty plastic.As work and time not at work blurred because of connectivity, the end user got to choose, that was the big difference. Want me to carry a laptop or phone??? I get to choose otherwise I leave it on my desk.

        1. LE

          Doesn’t this mentality date back pre IBM pc (and post PC for that matter with microsoft once they got a foothold) with the CIO not wanting PC’s because that way they retain their power position in the company and that way people depend on them? [1] [2] [3][1] This is a computer guy thing actually. You are ignored by people. So you get your power by holding back the knowledge that you have and by keeping people stupid about what is going on under the hood. Many of those people of course don’t want to know more, anymore than certain men don’t want to cook their own meals and certain women don’t want to do the simplest repair around the house. [1a] It’s a good system that has stood the test of time.[2] First day in business school “they guy with the keys to the supply cabinet has defacto power”. Never forget the phd student leading management 101 who made that statement.[3] One of my uncles, quite happy to have his wife not ever learn to drive a car. Liked to take her everywhere didn’t want her to have any mobility. And she was fine with that as well to point [1a]

          1. PhilipSugar

            That is one way of looking at it. The other is that people in support positions (Finance, and IT) want to try and establish control over sales and production by locking things down because that is the only way they can. Now that I write that we are really saying the same thing. The iPhone, DropBox, etc, are the ultimate manifestation of power swinging the other way

          2. LE

            True. However there is a reason for locking things down. Restriction in theory means less of a mess to clean up that someone else created. More end to end control means less of a chance that someone else fucks things ups. [1][1] Remember when the copier companies didn’t want you using other companies toner? Reason always stated was the profit they made. But back in the day they also did repairs (contract with offices for any decent sized company). Lousy toner created more repair and quality problems that they had to deal with at their expense.

        2. Matt Zagaja

          Apple won because they won over the people in power. When the CEO or Cabinet Secretary wants to use an iPhone then as the person with the power they issue an edict saying figure out how to make this work. Once they get it working for the top guy the dam is breached is it is easier for others to get through.

        3. JamesHRH

          Apple’s success is more product than anything else.Design matters more in a phone, the phone allowed to create a walled garden on 3P developers & it was an affordable status statement.BB demise is 100% based on your comment, however. They never saw CIO deciding that they could stop paying for actual phone and still keep security integrity. Likely because that was so core to the BB value proposition that no argument from anyone could have convinced them.I can see then thinking ‘we can make sexy phones….’ and totally missing the power of the iPhone brand.

          1. PhilipSugar

            But to make a pure product you have to be able to ignore the CIO, and that is exactly what they have done for their entire existence, Steve Jobs had open hostility to CIO’s. Look at this information week article titled: “Why Steve Jobs hates Enterprise” http://www.informationweek….I know it sounds strange, but its true. I live it everyday. Many times I do cross the line and let the CIO dictate a feature. Its what makes things complex and user unfriendly. You try your best but if you are totally dependent on the CIO for revenue you have little choice.What happened for certain things was that choice was taken away from the CIO. That is not going to be the case for core systems but for things that hook up to them, it has happened.What killed Blackberry was no CIO said I want apps on the phone. Apps that let my users waste time, Apps that are fun, No I just want email and a keyboard for that email that takes up space for playing those fun games.They beat you down on price and there is no way you can pay for a sexy case, screen, and software.

          2. JamesHRH

            No doubt it was an industry inflection point Phil.One day, users said ‘Fine, i will bring my iPhone to work & CIOs (or CFOs) ran the #s and went….Done.’I hear you. Its just, without the unreal step change up in UX that was an iPhone, no one would be willing to buy their own phone and bring it to work.6 of one….?

          3. LE

            Also helpful with all of this was the change in the age of the workforce (much younger). Older dudes with horn rim glasses would never be playing games during working hours. (Mythically at least in my mind..) Or dogs at work. Or foosball tables. Or putting your entire management team within reach of recruiters. Or giving people (a ruse) “unlimitted vacation” or Dad time off when his wife has a baby. All of this is the fall of the Roman Empire to me.

      3. Donna Brewington White

        Integrated consistency? Maybe its products. But internally? Culture?Maybe my loss but I would have had a hard time being convinced to help them hire people in the earlier days.Interesting post from NYT:

        1. LE

          My brilliant philosophical reply to you is as follows. Relates more to Jobs 2.0 (post 1997) than Jobs 1.0.Once you have gotten to the point of being close enough to Steve Jobs to get insulted, berated, or treated rudely by him, you are in the big leagues. Even if you are Steve Job’s maid (and I never heard of his maid being mistreated) you are in the big leagues. As such you are “good enough” to be able to leave at any time and get a job working for someone else. [1] You don’t have to work for Jobs if you feel he is abusive you can easily (even if you are his maid) get a job working for someone else. Great resume, eh?So what we are talking about here is taking a job in what is a contact sport. Working for Steve Jobs. People go into the boxing ring and suffer all sorts of physical damage to their person. People do all sorts of things (bungie jump, walk between buildings) of their own free will to create anxiety. Why, tell me, is this any different? Someone decides to work for Steve and taking abuse is part of the job. I would easily do that and he could insult me all day long. What’s the saying from the movies? “Thank you sir may I have another..”So what if Steve Jobs was a jerk to people? Look at the people that he was a jerk to. And if we were talking about when he was 20 when he started so what as well. Why is that a reason (for you) not to, in the early days, help them hire. Why? Because the fact is you don’t know if the others you recruit for are squeaky clean or whether “they beat their wives”. You just happened to know that there are some stories which have circulated about how pompass Steve Jobs was. And how often was he even an asshat? Every minute? Once a week. A few times a month? Everybody loads on him as if everybody has no faults and is nice to everyone all of the time in every situation even if they fuck up.I don’t, in business, at least super rarely, make judgements about who I will earn a buck from. I have certainly not seen anything close to what would be evidence that I would have dirty hands if I did business with either Apple or Steve Jobs. No corporation is squeaky clean. You are only reacting to things that you know you have no way of knowing that much about any other company (that is not famous like Apple) out there.Your thoughts?

        2. JamesHRH

          Sorkin has admitted that this is not even close to a biography.Its fiction.

      4. Twain Twain

        You’re right with this: “Apple…better experience of tremendous magnitude.”I classify CEOs by:(1.) Linears — they do hierarchical topdown of the type we see in Waterfall methodology.(2.) Adaptives — they do Agile and Lean.(3.) Quantums — they can laser in on all the key tipping points SIMULTANEOUSLY and hence create those factorially greater experiences of tremendous magnitude. They’re the Da Vinci inventor-integrators. Steve Jobs was one as are Elon Musk and Elizabeth Holmes (she’s now my favorite founder).Compare and contrast exact like-for-like UX experience for Snapchat Live Stories and Twitter Moments.*…How Twitter presents CONTEXT for the same event and persons is “Meh.” (@fredwilson:disqus).Yes, Twitter design is less visually cluttered but Snapchat’s is more EMOTIONALLY ENGAGING because it makes the user go, “Wow, I didn’t know Calvin Johnson got his nickname because of that. Let me go and find out more.”That right there is the spark of curiosity and emotional context which Twitter isn’t setting off in new users and Twitter HASN’T PRODUCT DESIGNED FOR.It’s this emotional engagement which advertisers would pay good money to be close to.It’s all these connected little details that count.The SVP of Engineering selling off shares the day after Jack Dorsey was appointed permanent CEO and now the potential layoff announcements also do not help Twitter’s cause and Wall Street confidence in it in the near-term. [I’ve read some analysts’ notes which I think are fairly spot on about the underlying metrics.]Tough love is needed at Twitter or they’ll think that just doing more simple visual design is what makes them comparable with Apple.NOPE. Apple thinks through all the emotional details too as well as a whole bunch of deeper and broader technical and people coherency.

    4. JamesHRH

      I could not agree more.Apple is laser focused on the customer while Twitter is unable to define their customer.

    5. Twain Twain

      Paul Graham of YCombinator on Twitter Moments.

      1. JamesHRH

        I’m in good company!

    6. ShanaC

      Twitter had that simplicity for a bit. it seems to have lost that path and direction.

  6. Dave Pinsen

    Twitter is definitely special. The question is whether the company will snuff out that specialness in its efforts to appeal to non-users who don’t think it’s special.

  7. sigmaalgebra

    > Twitter: it doesn’t make sense, hasn’t really ever made sense,That’s what I thought, and I’ve never send or received a tweet.But, now that Twitter has a lot of important users and uses, it very much does “make sense”, a lot of sense.How much equity funding it took to get the important users and uses I don’t know, but my guess would be north of $50 million. That was a lot of equity funding, for something that didn’t make sense, all betting on a hope that it would create and fill its own, unique, socially, culturally attractive niche.Yup, “a large network of engaged users”. Had to be tough to know that they would become so “engaged,” how many, and when.The recent struggles to fill the CEO slot and, now, the announcements of layoffs are more that doesn’t “make sense”.Good luck to Twitter.To tweet or not to tweet. That is the question? Not for me! For whom does the bell toll? Again, not for me. Do I want to rush right out and buy the six pair of shoes every gentleman needs to have in his closet? Nope.I still have no great desire either to send or receive a tweet or do any of 1001 goofy other things that don’t make sense.

  8. LIAD

    eons ago Biz Stone gave an interview somewhere and said:twitter is not a triumph of technology, it’s a triumph of humanityit has always struck me as being a truism and the key to twitter’s beauty and specialness.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      Agree. Any tools that increase that would be good.I’ve gone down many a Twitter rabbit hole and learned a lotThere is a “tweets that should have been texts” culture to it that I dont use; the conversations that people have in public that feel more private

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Yup!It is the coalescing holographic mind share.It is where the rubber meets the noosphere!

    3. JamesHRH

      Great businesses are a triumph of strategy and execution.A successful startup friend said once: ‘If there are 100 things you could do right to get our outcome, but you only needed 4 of those things done to get the outcome, we did 96 things wrong. It turned out to be the right 96 things to screw up.’That’s Twitter – succeeding despite their leadership.

  9. Liban

    Twitter is past the point of rescuing.Fred with all the due respect Twitter will not generate any significant revenue and probably never turn any profit.It is a 10 ten years old company with no clear strategy, they do not even know what they want to be. Great hype, publicity, many celebrity friends, but it wil never deliver as a for profit enterprise.Look they can distract the public for so long. I do not see much value in 140 character message product.Twitter will be dead in 3 year at most.It will have a company, I predict Salesforce, Dropbox, Box, and Amazon will all be put to sleep.The primary goal of any private enterprise is to generate a return on capital for investors in the form of profits. Any company that fails this test will be dead eventually.This is a time tested rule, a good rule, I hope VCs will abide by it.Any company that can not turn a profit in a decade should be liquidated. Keep in mind there is an opportunity cost here, the capital can be better used in another venture that will generate a return.I hope VCs stop funding and boosting failed ventures.

    1. LE

      I hope VCs stop funding and boosting failed ventures.Chasing returns. Investment will stop if and when interest rates are no longer artificially low. We will then be faced with a tremendous supply of labor that will exit the startup scene and need to find traditional jobs. Which will not exist in enough numbers to satisfy supply. It’s actually a scary thought.

      1. Liban

        LEGreat point,Yes central banks are flooding the system, and it is worldwide.Still VC,are managing people’s money They need to be cautious I agree overall disequilibrium But better face early and deal with it So we do not have lost decades like Japan in last 20 years.

  10. Tom Labus

    Sometimes the world needs to catch up to a service/product.

    1. Stephen Bradley

      Amen… I’ve been there before. I was on the board of Pandora in 2002. 🙂

  11. Stephen Bradley

    I’m bullish on Twitter Moments specifically. I should be… I have invested the past two years building it at AuthorBee. Not as polished, but conceptually identical — except with one main difference that I’m sure Twitter will eventually adopt: the ability for every Twitter user to create, share, promote, embed and create communities (like this one) around their OWN Twitter Moments. Not just one tier of editorial — layers of editorial… from the highly polished all the way down to the amateur or point-focused.Fred is tired of hearing me promote it – maybe justly. And yes, it should be part of the native Twitter experience (or SOME broader native experience, if not Twitter’s). But the future has been here for awhile. Please feel free to go play with it.

    1. Stephen Bradley

      And then there’s the inimitable SLJ’s take… that Moments NOT being part of the native Twitter experience is “The Solution to the Problem With the Solution to Twitter’s Problems”…

  12. pointsnfigures

    It’s interesting to note reactions I get when the subject of Twitter comes up. There are many in the tech world that are on Twitter, but only because if they weren’t other tech people would wonder about them. I have also met plenty of people that are on Twitter only for things like news discovery. Yesterday it was quicker to get and search for sports scores on Twitter than it was to use the web. There is still a large percentage of the population that turns their nose up at Twitter. It’s not that they don’t get it. It’s that they don’t know how to use Twitter to find things they want to find. Twitter is the best breaking news stream out there. When does Twitter bring more of the people in that turn their nose up at it? No idea, it might be generational and take a long time.

    1. awaldstein

      Don’t think that is why.Most social nets are popularity contests.People and companies can get popular on Facebook and Instagram. A blogger or company with 100K customers can with intelligence define a community.Those same companies/people on Twitter are invariably flat.If Twitter is all about the biggest brand voices having broadcast streams unless you broaden the offering the number of followers will not happen.You want more people who are popular on other nets to use it, make it easier for them to build community there at scale. It sure ain’t today.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Hmm, is it easier to build a brand intentionally on Twitter-or just by providing good content that others think is valuable?

        1. awaldstein

          if you have 3-5,000 followers on Twitter and a favorite or rt now and again do you really have a community aka a brand on that platform?Test it.Don’t go and have conversations or interject into conversations with the demi gods of finance and tech.Ask a question and see if your ‘community’ embraces you enough to answer.

          1. William Mougayar

            Yup, that’s one of the ultimate tests of a community that matters (or who cares).

    2. LE

      There is still a large percentage of the population that turns their nose up at Twitter. It’s not that they don’t get it. It’s that they don’t know how to use Twitter to find things they want to find.Perhaps they already have a solution to the problem that twitter solves and that solution is working fine for them.

  13. Da Ge

    like Apple, Twitter’s is used mainly by a small number of self-important loud people, and largerly irrelevant to everyone else.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      The only reason the “loud” people like pmarca use it is because everyone else is in fact reading those tweets. There is a big divide between tweet producers and tweet consumers. Seems to be happening on every platform. I’ve even seen a drop-off in people writing things on Facebook.

      1. Da Ge

        pcmarca is unknown outside of silicon valley. I suppose he writes on Twitter because computer people are on there, but that’s a far removed world from everyone else’s reality. People are largely writing to their friends in private in Facebook, not to the world. It’s really none of other people’s business what I had for dinner, but I’d share it with my Facebook friends. Twitter sucks at sharing, it’s all or nothing. Kinda works for corporate public relations, but terrible in connecting people.

  14. Sebastian Wain

    My concerns with Twitter are the basic mistakes from the past, really basic. One is confronting the development community with API restrictions. Another one, not offering a viable option for SMBs to consume their API and probable loosing a lot of money. From the distance it seems they didn’t work hard to put a self service system like Google AdWords and instead relied on wholesalers of tweets.Regarding Twitter Moment, it will need to compete in a new range of offerings like Reddit’s Upvoted, and will be difficult.

    1. Michael Elling

      Absolutely agree. Twitter needs to let others do heavy lifting around and share in the mutual success of knowledge generation, dissemination, engagement, repurposing and all the resulting tangible or intangible transactions. Twitter’s first ring of customers should be publishers, second micro-bloggers, third end-users and let an infinite number of transactions ensue. Moment & Lightening make Twitter as much a destination as AOL was just as Google Search came along. It neuters virality.

  15. William Mougayar

    This wasn’t Ben’s best analysis post, as it was long on defending Twitter and short on original insights. That said, I’m long on Twitter too, and believe they will turn the corner. They are a special kind of company that the world needs.But… But… But… So many things they need to fix. I’m not going to rehash them, but we should give Jack the benefit of the doubt, and about 3-6 months to figure things out. Then, the stock will either go to $100 or to $15.

    1. Twain Twain

      Wow, ok so I was going to suggest he has 9 months. During this time, the stock will either go north of $35 or south of $20.In 3-6 months, there is NO way Twitter will go to $100 unless it becomes an acquisition target and not even FB is at $100, so that would be serious over-paying and no corporate financier / rainmaker worth their salt would recommend buying Twitter at a price above Facebook’s.The thing about Apple is when they show us their product, we “get it”.I watched the ‘Moments’ video and went, “Wait…what’s this? How many people are going to be into what NASA is doing and will get it?!”Twitter’s product managers ASSUMED new users (the mass adoptees) would have a point of reference that people can send tweets from space. Ok, power users know. Ok, tech nerds know.Was there any explanation from Twitter product team? Nope. Just give new users a picture of a space rocket and expect them to “get it”.It’s not even like Twitter is widely known for “making moonshots” the way Google is because Google’s been marketing and associating itself with “moonshots” for quite a while.Does the general public have any conscious connection between Twitter and space?!!!It’s a BASIC FUNDAMENTAL MISTAKE by Twitter Product & Marketing teams and let’s not get into the wordy blog post they launched Moments with.It’s little details like that which highlight how Twitter’s Product & Marketing teams have A LOT TO DO.They don’t grasp that new mass users are likelier to get “Twitter is where we can get perspective on what our family & friends are doing, what the politicians are pitching, what the brands are sharing” etc than some abstract shots of space.Look, Fred is long Twitter and so are a lot of people. I hope they make it because I’m pro-founder CEOs and it’s healthier for Silicon Valley to have several strong social media and communications platforms.It’s just, at this moment (pun intended) I agree with @disqus_Awy3Cl8ObF:disqus – “I’m just disappointed honestly that Moment’s feels like it is thrown together” and “There is nothing irrational about apple. its creativity with calculated intent. its vision based marketing understanding that the mass market buys by brand and is comforted by their own sense of potential.their products are art.i see little that is analogous to twitter at all.”

    2. JamesHRH

      I agree William.When Ben cannot ‘put a fork in it’ that’s a bad sign. Its a super strong analysis that can’t be definitive (his absolute trademark in my book). As Winston Churchill said…;enigma, riddle, …..etc.’People in charge need to tell the CEO to get his ego out of the way and build the business, which is providing direct access to your audience for people with a need for an audience.Charge the power posting people here, tuck in some unique ad formats there, convince more people that they need direct access to an audience everywhere.Sheesh.

  16. andyswan

    I like being a Twitter user. I like being a Twitter data client. I think it’s a fantastic company.It feels like everyone is freaking out all around them. Seems like Wall St and Silicon Valley noise though. I hope they stay focused on users instead of non-users…but I don’t think it’s my place to comment on their strategy. Awfully arrogant to think I’d know more about what Twitter should do than the people like Jack and Fred that helped build it from nothing.

    1. LE

      Awfully arrogant to think I’d know more about what Twitter should do than the people like Jack and Fred that helped build it from nothing.Not true. The idea is that they are to close to the subject to be totally objective. Even Fred said this:I am long Twitter the stock and subject to whatever emotions, conflicts, and other bad behaviors that generates.So Fred (or Jack) can’t be objective. Fred is long. He will stay till the bitter end.You know with the products that I sell there is an interesting phenomenon which happens and is similar to actually when anyone owns any asset (whether it be a stock or a diamond). What you will sell for and what you will buy for don’t ever match. What you already own you hold onto until you get the mythical number “what twitter could be if I just wait long enough”.Example:Will you sell me your widget for $10,000? Ans: No I want $20,000 sorry.Ok, I will sell you my widget for $10,000, interested? You can make moneyif you hold onto that as well.Answer is always “no”.People will hold on to what they have until the bitter end. But in reverse they will not buy anymore of what they have, even if they believe the value of that is greater if that greater value is stated in future (not current terms obviously if you can flip in a short time you buy).

    2. JamesHRH

      Strategic analysis of market position can be done without internal data.I can tell you this much: Twitter Moments SUCKS compared to SnapChat Stories.Do you need internal data to tell you that’s a problem for them? I don’t think so.Snapchat doesn’t do Following. Only one other company does and that’s the one that’s founded by the other Twitter founders. Do I need internal data to tell you there’s some serious ego machinations going on between these cats? I don’t think so.They are both trying to reinvent newspapers and be known as the Guttenberg of the Internet. Or something.Medium is awesome but a total headache. I don’t think anyone understands what it is supposed to be or who is the customer. Twitter is headed the same way.

    3. Michael Elling

      Fantastic, yes. But $20bn value on $1.5bn revenue with limited visibility to growing those revenues is not sustainable.

  17. BillMcNeely

    Twitter: capitalism of thought

  18. RameshJain

    Twitter popularized micro-blogging and build the company on this powerful notion. Micro-blogging is definitely something that appeals to people and will stay and prosper. However, from early days I felt that the power of micro-blogging is weakened by making it too broad and too subjective. And people demonstrated this by using #. In fact I feel that # was the reason that Twitter as well as now Instagram and others could overcome limitations of a broad subjective micro-blog. Something needs to happen to correct this in more fundamental ways then using #. Also, Twitter uses photos, but it uses them in old fashioned ways as enhancing experience rather than using photos as information career. Photos used to represent experience, but the new generation is using them as information and often use them without any text. Can micro-blogging build services on that? I feel many similar things are happening that could revolutionize micro-blogging but are not on the radar screen of Twitter — as far as it appears from outside.

  19. jason wright

    or are we all being sucked in my the latest carefully crafted Twitter publicity blitz?add blockchain, bitcoin, and b corp, and then i’m seeing the power of twitter to pull the human race back from 500 years of going in the wrong direction.

  20. JLM

    .The folks on this blog, brilliant all of y’all, are way too close to the issue to be able to see what Twitter really is. Everybody’s arguing about the cup holders when Twitter has already taken flight and will likely fly forever — who gives a shit where it can land?It’s never going to land. It’s going to fly forever.Why do I say that?The next President of the United States will be identified, campaign, be announced, and govern using Twitter. Not using the freakin’ New York Times — TWITTER.The current President of the United States uses Twitter to conduct foreign policy and to announce his political initiatives. John Boehner’s demise as Speaker of the House came to me via TWITTER.I got the news that the Longhorns had beaten the Oklahoma Sooners — way more important than Hillary’s latest email escapade — you guessed it, via TWITTER. [There is a God based on this one fact alone. Finally, the Longhorns put together 4 quarters of play. Screw the Sooners. Sorry. I am not really that good a person.]I obtain information about the bad doings of the Russians in Syria not from the media, the military, our government — TWITTER.The Pope? Hell, yes, TWITTER.So, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference whether Moments or some other developer’s wet dream is the NEXT BIG THANG because Twitter has already gotten into the DNA of life and death.We couldn’t get rid of it if we wanted to. Life with no Internet? No, no Twitter? No, that isn’t even life any more.I hate Twitter. I love Twitter. Twitter is dead. Long live TWITTER.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I got my current job thanks in part to twitter. That was cool. Still waiting for LinkedIn to rain down job offers on me. I think LinkedIn is how nerds and “system” people think job hunting should work, while twitter is how job hunting in the real world actually works.

    2. LE

      Twitter is a business. All that matters is whether twitter makes money in the context of any business discussion about twitter. Nobody is doubting the social benefits of twitter or the fact that it allows you, and other sports fans, to know in real time what happened at a game. Sure this is super important and relevant.Let me ask you this question though. Ultimately with your sports team all you care about is whether they win the game, right? There is literally nothing else that matters in sports other than winning. At least nothing that ever gets any attention. Right?So you’ve made a good case for how important twitter is now and how it will remain important going forward”The next President of the United States will be identified, campaign, be announced, and govern using Twitter. Not using the freakin’ New York Times — TWITTER.”However you are ignoring the fact that there doesn’t appear to be much monetary upside to all of the things that you are mentioning. So if it’s so significant why isn’t it making money the way Apple is making money? Isn’t that the real issue and the reason for Fred’s anxiety?

      1. JLM

        .When I bite into a lovely bit of pistachio ice cream, I never consider whether it is an offering of a financially sound company or whether that company is profitable. I just eat it.It is a part of my life and I love pistachio ice cream (you may substitute BBQ, TexMex or beer at your own volition).Thus also Twitter. It is now a part of life and while it may need to turn a profit to succeed, that is not my concern. Today.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. fredwilson

          you are a pistachio fan JLM? me too. but i prefer the gelato variety. so good.

          1. JLM

            .Actually I eat way more pistachio gelato than ice cream.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Tom Labus

        Yes, but who makes $ like Apple. Financials under Costolo weren’t bad just not rocket ship which seems to be what is demanded.

      3. Michael Elling

        “Ultimately with your sports team all you care about is whether they win the game, right?” Nope. If you’re a real fan it’s watching the game & how your team plays. Win/lose? Flip coins all day.”All that matters is whether twitter makes money in the context of any business discussion about twitter.” and from an above comment, “Fred…derives real value from the information stream which helps him make investment decisions.” Well yes and no.As I said in response to @obarthelemy twitter as a platform is not a destination but a collection of addresses and filter based on brevity. #,@ & 140 char define it. As JLM says, Twitter owns this space. The links in AND out are the ones that need to be monetized. That requires twitter to open itself up and figure out ways to share in the value of the resulting myriad of tangible and intangible transactions.

        1. LE

          Re: Win or Lose: (Well I am not a sports guy (at all) so I guess I was wrong on that one..) But you are right in the sense that the excitement of the game is what matters. One of the reasons that I do what I do. However correct me if I am wrong a team that generally loses tends to be no fun to watch I thought. Same with what I do. If I didn’t make money it would for sure be less exciting and interesting.That requires twitter to open itself up and figure out ways to share in the value of the resulting myriad of tangible and intangible transactions.But to what extent is it reasonably possible that someone new (or old like Dorsey) will be able to do that. In other words if it was a simple fix “invest in renovating and updating McDonalds” it would have already been done. The solution is far more elusive and will require a big gamble that (from what others have said) will disrupt the core reason that attracts people to twitter right now. (Facebook having your aunt on it problem in a sense.)

          1. Michael Elling

            I’m a pretty good “informational” strategist and one of Fred’s company’s once hired me for that purpose and investors made 10x on their money 1 year later; in large part due to my analysis and proposals to the CEO serving as the catalyst to a sale. As I said to @obarthelemy, publishing and linearTV are dying models due to their vestigial silos. The future is all about horizontal layers and piecing together vertically complete solutions. Twitter is a very very very useful tool for the latter. But by trying to silo themselves they are never going to help those two very big industries recreate themselves. Doing so would at least justify a $20bn valuation, if not more.

          2. LE

            If you have a strategy for twitter why not pitch that strategy and see if you can get an engagement. If they reject the proposal (or ignore) I would then write it up all ready to go for some tech publication.

          3. Michael Elling

            Funny, when I was brought in to that company by my friend the COO, I was in there pitching an aspect of my wireless (group) messaging product for brokerage CRM. One of our features was a “lil green button” that could be put anywhere and provide a direct connection to someone(place). You could drop them into documents, pdf’s, emails, webpages, etc… Imagine getting something from a broker and being able to click on a button and message or talk to that broker directly regarding the material sent (and the broker knows its you along with all your context). The company didn’t do anything with that but they did hire me as CSO because of my background. That was 2002 and the rest was history. LoL.I don’t know anyone at Twitter and I agree with @twaintwain:disqus that they have internal issues. So it probably would not be a fun project. Also, I am working on something that hopefully will make the blogosphere (and in the process the publishing world) more generative and engaging. But the same principles I have in mind hold for Twitter.

          4. LE

            I would send it to Fred. He will forward it to twitter if he likes what you say. Maybe even if he doesn’t like it!

  21. Sandy

    I’m one of the 800 million people who tried Twitter, then churned for personal use. It’s only for business use now.People often say there’s something magical about Twitter, but they can’t pinpoint what it is. What is magical, is that Twitter fulfills a human need that is often not fulfilled in many people’s lives.What is magical about Twitter is exactly what Oprah described as one of 3 human psychological and emotional needs. All humans have these needs.The first human need is – do you see me? That’s Facebook and Instagram.The second human need is – do you hear me? That’s Twitter.The reason that many of the best SV VCs don’t use social media is not because they’re old and outdated. On the contrary, they’re some of the most pioneering and brilliant people. It’s because they know why people find Facebook, Instagram, Twitter so magical – and they don’t want to also portray themselves as people with unfulfilled psychological and emotional needs.

    1. LE

      (What’s the third need? Wasn’t able to google it.)I agree with the psychological underpinnings of what you are saying and attributing to Oprah.People reach out to satisfy something that is missing. Not always the case for sure but definitely applies over a large swath of the population. Unmet needs. But also the buzz that one gets I am sure that is part of it as well. Intermittent reinforcement of a reply, a like, a response, an upvote and so on. Very powerful. Not to hard, not to easy. Just right.they don’t want to also portray themselves as people with unfulfilled psychological and emotional needs.They aren’t sensitive enough to even know this in order to follow this path. What I mean by that is that they aren’t self aware enough. They just don’t see a value in doing so and don’t question it.

    2. Simone

      Twitter was not invented for Kardashians. This is why I have mentioned in my post below that we are not sophisticated enough for the new technology available. And Twitter doesn’t equal Facebook in any way.I don’t agree with your analysis because it is a lazy version. I feel embarrassed as a human being if the most we can do with internet is selfies.

      1. Sandy

        Twitter is enormously useful for business reasons, whether that’s for celebrities or otherwise.The Kardashians are tremendously savvy to segue a sex tape and selfies into an empire. It’s not my place to judge their successful family business. I only commented on why it’s so successful.

        1. LE

          Agree. The market likes the Kardashians. Good for them.I love the tendency for people to think that their “stupid” pastime (sports for example) is better than the next person’s “stupid” pastime (Kardashians or any reality TV). Or that spending time on Sunday in Church is somehow better than watching football. (I do neither for the record.)Kardashians (or Real Housewives or Million Dollar Listing) brings entertainment pleasure into the lives of many people. [1] It’s a good thing. No reason for anyone to try and elevate themselves by saying they are better because they have read a Steven King novel, on the beach in a beach, chair relaxing.[1] And this idea that anyone with a brain surely doesn’t go down that road is pure fantasy.

          1. Simone

            That was not what I was trying to say and I have accepted long time ago we come in many different shapes.I just don’t think that was/is the vision for this platform, it is one of the use cases but by no means the main use case.

          2. LE

            You said:Twitter was not invented for Kardashians.So it’s easy to think that you were saying that in a pejorative way. Which you were not apparently. (Just reporting the facts..)Likewise the internet was not invented for porn either but that is a large part of the way that it is used (we are told).The question is why does it matter why something was invented anyway? And if the creators of twitter had invented it for another reason (to see what someone had for lunch was the early joke I remember back 10 years ago) then they could have easily (since it is a closed platform) blocked the ability of the kardashians to use it (similar to how porn can only be posted in some places on the internet).So we can assume by that that the people who “invented” twitter are quite happy with what it is being used for now. After all I am not seeing any porn on Wikipedia [1] although I hear it is on tumbler.[1] Holy Shit I’m wrong!

          3. Simone

            This is what I am trying to say, you don’t need wikipedia or tumblr to watch porn, the old vcr will do.Kardashians don’t even need twitter to prosper, they already dominate other platforms – tv, tabloids.I was just trying to make a point that I don’t agree with Sandy that this is the main use for twitter – i.e. an outlet for ‘people with unfulfilled psychological and emotional needs’.When I think of twitter I think of people from Liban or Egypt talking to the world, main news fastest distribution, being able to follow up leaders of different fields.

        2. Simone

          I wasn’t focusing on judging them either, just trying to make a point that what you have noted as main use (in your opinion – real use data would be very interesting to see) for those platforms only proves we have a tool available that we don’t what to do with to manifest the founders product vision.

  22. Tom Ribbons

    Comparing Twitter to Apple !!!!!!!!!!!! This would be a good joke they will share on Mars tooI only hope Twitter the company did not make you insane.

    1. LE

      Don’t get to excited about that. It’s just blog linkbait and a good way to get people to converse about what you have said. Take a strong position. The stronger, more polarizing and outrageous the better. Say something ridiculous [1] and then relish in the amount of activity around the ridicule. Worked for Trump. Now working for Ben Carson.[1] For added activity, use the word “retarded” in place of “ridiculous”. Get the point?

  23. DJL

    For me, the special and different thing about twitter is that it was NOT a traditional news outlet. Even though I didn’t like what sometimes happens on Twitter (bashing people) – I had to respect the medium. It did create some type of a level playing field for information.Once the information is “curated” – it becomes biased. There is no way around it. (Fred talked about this a bit in his first post.) And the internet (web sites and blogs) has created further distance between fact and “information” that gets selected and written about. The more layers, the more opportunity for bias.I am a shareholder and fan, and I understand the need to make bold moves, but I think this one is going in the wrong direction. Exploit the uniqueness – don’t destroy it (and become another media outlet). There are so many cool information products that could be derived from tweets – I wish they would go in that direction instead.

  24. george

    Fully agree, Twitter is extremely special and they hold a favorable position in the marketplace, thanks to the broad base of allegiant users.In part, I think what makes TWTR a unique platform is its universal access and its focus on delivering real time conversation around relevant media conventions.However, I doubt this new feature is really going to measurably drive new sources of valued growth – users, revenue and profitability; modifications rarely do…Somewhere within their framework lies mass potential – they have the right ingredients, social and media tied together from both spectrums (text and video); they’ve even overcome legal barriers and overseas governance.They’ve always been a long position for me – I sense when they get the recipe right, it’s going to be EPIC!

  25. William Mougayar

    Ok, I’ve had all Thanksgiving Day to think about this, and here’s my updated synopsis:1. Is Twitter a great company? Yes. 2. Is Moments a kick-ass feature that moves the needle? No. 3. Is Jack Dorsey going to make Twitter thrive in the next 6-9 months? Maybe.We all want Twitter to succeed and be more than it is today. The world is Twitter’s oyster. Its current users want more, and its non-users don’t know what they are missing.

  26. Sean Hull

    I use Twitter everyday. I’ve connected with new clients & reached a larger audience through twitter.I think StartupLJackson said it best. 🙂

  27. kidehen

    Twitter (the product) is special because its ascendency to global brand took less time than even Google. Paradoxically though, it hasn’t been able to innovate on the business model front.Twitter is a goldmine of demographic information, but its inability to convert this powerful data stream into something special remains its challenge. They abandoned annotations for all the wrong reasons. Whenever they get back to this topic, they should spot the obvious+++.Until then, Twitter will remain a powerful brand lacking an innovative business-model.My $0.02.

  28. Michael Elling

    Moments is antithetical to the curation value I derive from the people & publishers I follow and the information/alerts I glean from them. I don’t care about the mass average.

  29. awaldstein

    Interesting point.I would venture a guess that with your current company Instagram is–or could be– a strong platform for you. For your customers for the community of experts who should know about what you stand for.In the food biz, whole foods to some extent is on twitter but i don’t see a lot of superstars or even minor health/nutrition demigods who have community there.

  30. obarthelemy

    I never got past the “experimenting” stage with Twitter. It’s very easy to get on it and start sending & receiving tweets; but I never got to the point where it was more worth of my time than getting to actual blogs, sites and forums via my RSS feeds.The signal to noise ratio is horrendous: most tweeters are bores, and even interesting tweeters are rather inconsistent. And ferreting out those ones is work ! Plus there’s a lot of ads, and I’m unimpressed by the ergonomics. And the really interesting stuff does always end up on some blog or site, curated, fleshed out and edited for me (thank you !)There’s immediacy, but I’m of the philosophy that if I don’t notice something in my real life, it doesn’t matter if I learn of it half a day later.

  31. Vasudev Ram

    >And it’s stuff like # and 2/ that help to ward off broader use.Can you explain why you think so?I’d say “1/, 2/, …” should be easy to understand, “#” maybe a little more difficult for non-tech users to get, but not much at all.

  32. Matt Zagaja

    I’ve been noticing that many people who used to “tweet” backchannel conversations at conferences and events are now doing it on Slack. I think it’s a huge loss for the public because while Slack is nice it is not public and therefore the public does not get the benefit of the thoughts and insights of all the attendees.

  33. LE

    And it’s stuff like # and 2/ that help to ward off broader use.We agree on something. [1]Funny you quote, without irony, something about Apple when accessability is Twitter’s fundamental problem.It makes sense actually. Fred went to MIT. He is at the core a person who is able to more easily parse the cryptic language of computers. So to him none of that accessibility matters. He fails the “puny brain test”. As do several others on this blog. As does google in many things that they do or trying to use Amazon AWS. Different names, extra added complexity only good for the cluedin types. This is actually how Microsoft made money. [2]When twitter is the type of product that some woman who is 55 and attends the pancake breakfast at a church in Lancaster (puny brain) can see and immediately understand that is when it will have mass adoption. Of course that is never going to happen, that’s obvious.[1] Let me throw in that I hate when blogs decide to link to people by providing their twitter handle instead of their webpage as a reference.[2] Microsoft: Make difficult product and spawn an entire industry to help support that product. As a result those that support the product keep the product relevant. It’s the perfect crime. However this didn’t happen because they planned it that way. It happened because Bill Gates is not Steve Jobs and couldn’t see down to the level of the lady at the pancake breakfast. (So take away 2 points for that..)

  34. jason wright

    Twitter is not Snapchat 🙂

  35. LE

    There’s immediacy, but I’m of the philosophy that if I don’t notice something in my real life, it doesn’t matter if I learn of it half a day later.Exactly. And actually in most cases it doesn’t even matter a day or a year later either. There is plenty of new things happening everyday to get entertained with and exposed to.Fred is long on twitter not only because it’s an investment for him but also because he derives real value from the information stream which helps him make investment decisions. That is most certainly the core of his use of twitter the rest of the things he might use it for (basketball scores) is just icing on the cake. Just a guess don’t know for sure obviously.

  36. Michael Elling

    Twitter’s original value was in its simplicity (140 characters) and addressing (#,@). While it’s often a “source” more often than not it is a filter to digital media and a way of finding out what people think is important, novel etc… It was never a replacement for digital media (content creation and publishing) and so its business model should be about increasing engagement (and knowledge generation/dissemination) and sharing in that increased engagement. It should not be a destination as it is trying with moments or project lightening. Instead it should monetize the myriad “hooks” on the input and output side; be it through (shared) advertising, subscriptions, sales, etc…. The only way it can do that is by virtualizing those processes and letting others do the heavy work while getting a cut of the transactions.

  37. Vasudev Ram

    >1) already exists and is already understood. 2/ looks like an error, and it is.Yes, I did think from first time I saw it that 1/ or 2/ looks asymmetrical, though I got used to it.Not sure I fully agree with what you say about #, though. It kind of is language (informally anyway), since it is used to mean “number”, as in #1 or # of items. But of course that’s not the meaning for which it is used as a hashtag symbol in Twitter. So kind of 50/50.Which reminds me, I read somewhere a while ago that some of the symbols used in tweets were borrowed from Unix, like # in Unix shell is for start of a comment, though used for hashtag in tweets. Don’t know how the @ maps from Unix to Twitter though, since it’s used in things like $@.

  38. Cam MacRae

    The hashtag was inspired by IRC (channel scope prefix); the @reply was transplanted from flickr.

  39. LE

    Which reminds me, I read somewhere a while ago that some of the symbols used in tweets were borrowed from Unix, like # in Unix shell is for start of a commentDesigning a consumer product? Well of course you want to look to Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie for inspiration!! [1] If that’s not enough ask “ESR” Eric Raymond what he thinks you should do [2]Same type of thinking is what got Microsoft to show you all of that startup garbage (which Macs lack [3]) when you boot up. I’ve been doing Unix since 1985 (not professionally call it prosumer) and my brain isn’t liking the symbol although now of course it’s ingrained in everyone and accepted, similar to @ for email.A fail that has worked out. Don’t ask people to learn a new language unless there is a super significant and compelling reason to do so. Otherwise puny brains will be turned off.[1]…[2] Of course if you want a verbose startup on mac hold down command-v when booting.

  40. Cam MacRae

    Slack is awesome.

  41. Vasudev Ram

    A few big mistakes / wrong assumptions in your comment. Busy, will reply tomorrow.

  42. Vasudev Ram

    I wrote:>Busy, will reply tomorrow.Okay, here’s my reply.You know that I’ve commented on your comments on multiple times in the past, and in some cases upvoted you, and said some of your comments were good. So, I try to avoid bias. By the same token, I can’t let this current comment of yours pass without a well-justified (IMO) rebuttal, so here it is:One of your mistakes was assuming that I claimed that the possible Unix influence on tweet syntax was a good thing. I did not. I don’t hold any views on that matter, at least as of now. It may be a good thing or it may not. All I said was (paraphrasing myself): “I read somewhere that some of the symbols used in tweets, such as # and @, were borrowed from Unix.”That assumption was a logical mistake on your part. Someone saying that “I read that A influenced B” is not at all the same as that person saying that “it is a good thing that A influenced B”; you seem to have assumed the latter.Now, to your other points:>Designing a consumer product? Well of course you want to look to Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie for inspiration!! [1] If that’s not enough ask “ESR” Eric Raymond what he thinks you should do [2]Do you know much about Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, and their achievements?Ken Thompson: – Wikipedia:… – The Computer History Museum: http://www.computerhistory….Nowadays, Ken Thompson works for Google, who have also, over the past many years, hired some of the best computer scientists and software developers in the world, including many who were heavily involved with Unix for years.Dennis Ritchie:- Wikipedia:…- Dennis Ritchie: The Shoulders Steve Jobs Stood On | WIRED:…You quoted the Unix philosophy:>[1]…Wondering if you appreciate the meaning of that “philosophy” as regards Unix (though philosophy is a much misused word). It’s not so much a philosophy as a way of designing and working on, and with, software: trying to build software that is cooperative (with other software), modular, extensible, [insert more buzzwords here, which are actually useful in practice]. And a lot of it works, very well, as shown in the paragraphs below. (Not that Unix is without its flaws, or any other software product, for that matter.)Android smartphones, Mac OS X (desktops and laptops, which have a significant percentage of the overall PC market), and iOS (iPhones and iPads, etc.), are all Unix based. So are all the Linux laptops, desktops, and Linux servers that power organizations in-house or via the cloud (and the cloud is growing larger by the day). Unix runs on laptops; Unix runs on desktops and servers; and so on up to the largest mainframes (ask IBM) and some supercomputers. Taken together, literally billions of those computers and devices are in use. Unix is probably now the most widely deployed operating system that has ever existed. And BTW, it has existed for a long time, over 45 years, and still going strong. Only a few IBM mainframe OS’s might be longer-lived, but the number of installations they have is much less.Relevant links for above paragraph:From Wikipedia article on Android: “At Google I/O 2014, the company revealed that there were over one billion active monthly Android users, up from 538 million in June 2013.”:…The same Wikipedia article also says:”As of 2015, Android has the largest installed base of all operating systems.””In the long run well crafted and better always wins. Example: Windows pc ~1B and declining. Unix powered mobile devices ~3B and growing” – Abinash Tripathy, CEO of Helpshift:…The Durability of Unix:…Browse the site of the Linux Foundation and see what they are up to:http://www.linuxfoundation.orgHere's some text from the front page of the Linux Foundation (as of today):”When people have the tools and trust to collaborate on a massive scale, nearly any problem can be solved. Since its inception 20 years ago, Linux has become the most used software in the world.”And here’s a video currently running on their page:, embedded below<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”…” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=””></iframe>>If that’s not enough ask “ESR”Wondering if you know about his achievements. You might want to google for him a bit and read up on what he’s achieved. Firefox (developed from the open-sourced Netspace browser codebase) might not exist if not for him. A few pointers about ESR:…Also check his book, The Art of Unix Programming,and browse it some:…It is published by Addison-Wesley.It gives tons of examples of the achievements and impact of Unix software – both the OS itself, and software running on top of it. And make sure to browse the part of the book about his take on Unix philosophy, which term you linked to, seemingly disparagingly, in your comment.I’m putting links below to a few excerpts from that book by ESR:Basics of the Unix Philosophy:…The Unix Philosophy in One Lesson:…What Unix Gets Wrong:(yes, Unix is not perfect – me, VR)…(but see the last paragraph at the above link, for what might be a prophetic insight by ESR, which seems to be already coming true, e.g. w.r.t. to smartphones – where he talks about how, counter-intuitively, some focus on mechanism vs. policy has kept Unix relevant in circumstances unforeseen in it its earlier days.)What Unix Gets Right:…>ask Eric Raymond what he thinks you should do [2]What makes you think I even want to do anything about the point that started this thread (i.e. Unix’s possible influence on tweet syntax)? That is your misunderstanding. Refer to the second paragraph (from the top) of this comment by me, if you don’t get it. Don’t try to read my mind – you cannot.Eric Raymond lives in the US. Pick up the phone and tell him your opinions about Unix and open source, designing consumer products, etc., on the lines of what you’ve written here. You’re likely to get an earful (to put it mildly :), more that what I have said, and better.>Same type of thinking is what got Microsoft to show you all of that startup garbage (which Macs lack [3]) when you boot up.You’re painting with very broad strokes. Don’t try to compare Unix and Windows, at least not without knowing enough (of the internals) of both.Windows is closed source. Linux is open source. You (or anyone else) can go into the Linux code and change the parts you don’t like – if you have the capability to do it. Or hire someone to do it. So not the same type of thinking at all.Also, have you ever created an OS, or anything remotely near as large and complex?>I’ve been doing Unix since 1985 (not professionally call it prosumer)So what?I’ve been working professionally with Unix since around 1990; with multiple variants of Unix (high-end enterprise versions as well as lower-end), and later with Unix variants like Linux, pretty much throughout my career. (And worked with DOS, Windows and Novell Netware from early versions too. Was team leader for a successful database middleware product, written in C, on Windows.) Done a large amount of work in both Unix-based development and system administration roles. Published an article for IBM developerWorks on developing a Linux command-line utility, which was on the site for 10 years and got good reviews and ratings. People have told me they used that article as the basis for creating production command-line tools. I originally wrote the utility described in the article, to run on HP-UX (HP’s Unix), for one of the largest manufacturers of motorcycles and scoooters in the world. Published other articles on tech sites / in tech magazines. Created an open source software product, xtopdf, in Python, for PDF creation, which people and known organizations (like ESRI NL, Packt Publishing UK, Software Freedom Law Center USA) use and have told me they like.Relevant links:…I’ve been working on Unix and free/open source software from before Linux was created and from before the term “open source” was coined:…> and my brain isn’t liking the symbol although now of course it’s ingrained in everyone and accepted, similar to @ for email.Doesn’t mean that other’ brains don’t like the symbol, or more importantly, cannot handle it, just because yours doesn’t. Same goes for the other symbols like # or whatever, used in tweets or anywhere. Plenty of people actually *like* trying out and learning new languages, syntax, etc., not just for use (though that too) but also for the fun of it. And such people don’t include just techies, but laymen too. What else is music but a kind of language, for instance? or even art? or prose or poetry? (Taking a language as a means of communication.)>A fail that has worked out.Something that works out is a fail?>Don’t ask people to learn a new language unless there is a super significant and compelling reason to do so. Otherwise puny brains will be turned off.Why not let people decide for themselves: both the creators to decide whether to create a new language or not, and for the users to decide whether their brains are too puny to learn a new language or not? Also, let the market decide.Okay, enough seriousness. Here’s some fun:Unix Koans:…(Also by ESR).

  43. Vasudev Ram

    Thanks, didn’t know that. Okay, like #python or #unix.The @ actually makes a kind of sense; like, I’m saying this “at” someone.

  44. obarthelemy

    My issue is: there’s too much going on, I cannot learn/follow it all, and Twitter is an inferior use of my time in most cases, compared to RSS feeds to websites and blogs.Simplicity is a blessing and curse (/Monk off): either you link to real content like an RSS feed; or you soundbite and that gets tiring, especially when the feed is half ads (GS Elevator, I’m looking at you); or you brainfart.I find it useful for 2 specific things: server status reports when I was playing World of Warcraft (because for some reason Blizzard Customer Service updates Twitter more than their Current Issues forum page), and sales lookout during the 2x two-week annual sales period here in France, because web sites seem to send their RSS items on a schedule instead of instantly, so with RSS I come too late for the best deals. Even for sales though, it’s links to the spotter’s website for enough details some opinions/feedback and then on to the seller’s site.I find it very Farenheit 451-ish ? Immediacy for immediacy’s sake ?

  45. Michael Elling

    Purely as a collection/aggregation point RSS serves a purpose. It is objective. Twitter provides color and subjectivity; other people’s opinions and limited discussion. Therefore it provides a much needed dimension beyond RSS and accounts for RSS’ demise as people use it for both.I agree with TMI and that’s why Twitter needs to open up and allow others to facilitate filtering and curation that leads to more meaningful discussion and 2-way dialogue. Twitter’s existing tools are limiting on those fronts.

  46. obarthelemy

    Can you imagine having theinteresting discussion we’re currently havingon twitter broken down every 140 chars ?I can’t.

  47. Michael Elling

    Nor I. That’s why it is starting point. Not a destination. It is a very good filter and shout out mechanism to spark interest/following. To do more is a mistake, as I say elsewhere. So the only way to capture value farther down the discussion/interest chain is to open up and let others pull it along. The traditional distribution of content is dying; publishing and linearTV. These industries need help to reinvent themselves. Twitter can play an important role.

  48. LE

    It appears that you have made some good points but we come from two different places (in terms of knowledge) so we will never see eye to eye on this one. Ntim (more like “ironically”) ESR was a TA in the Wharton Computer Center when I was there. He was on the staff (or something like that). Yes I have made a snap judgement on him. That’s what I do.I think Unix is great (hence “prosumer since 1985”). So of course I see the value in it and the design philosophy. But I am not professionally trained and have no time or patience for doing anything other than learning what I need to learn to get a job done. I am not a professional in this area (and could never be one either).But I do think (to my point) that given your resume (and your obviously good technical underpinnings (vs. my prosumer) you are more advanced and not “puny brain” (average or mediocre enough) after all you said: I originally wrote the utility described in the article, to run on HP-UX (HP’s Unix), for one of the largest manufacturers of motorcycles and scoooters in the world. Published other articles on tech sites / in tech magazines. Created an open source software product, xtopdf, in Python, for PDF creation, which people and known organizations (like ESRI NL, Packt Publishing UK, Software Freedom Law Center USA) use and have told me they like.Which blows me away that is not me for sure. Not my skill set. Not even close. (We’d make great partners and we’d have many fights as partners. I’d win the fights though because of my skillset!)

  49. LE

    btw your site is down. I went to it to find more out about you. I ended up going to your linkedin where I saw you have java skills. That is something that from time to time we need as we are porting a system now that was written in java (or will be as soon as the sysadmins get their act together).You also work with pdf. My ex wife’s husband (another ntim) is the top guy at Adobe for pdf and is involved with all of the standards.