Some Thoughts On Twitter, Delivered As A Tweetstorm

I sent this out last night. In case you missed it, I thought I’d share it with all of you this morning.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave Pinsen

    Those are good features of Twitter.Overall, though, I’m not optimistic about its future, even though I’m an active user.

    1. fredwilson

      Overall I am. And very long the stock too. There is nothing like it and try as hard as the other platforms have, nobody can replicate it. It’s a treasure and highly differentiated and defensible

      1. kirklove

        You conflate defensible with entrenched. The latter is more powerful in 2016. For now.

      2. Harold Green

        Hey ,, didn’t I tell you the other day Twitter will sink and it did . Watch out for it becoming a penny stock sooner than you think

  2. Hu Man

    29 likes and a retweet for #12

    1. Dan Moore

      Bots? People just liking the whole tweetstorm willy nilly?

  3. LIAD

    Completely disagree.Twitter couldn’t be any easier to use.The simplest of simple UIs. The easiest of easy protocols. Grok the 2 or 3 main conventions and you are golden.Contrast that with Snapchat where you need a phd in practical wizardry just to get in the door.’Hard to use’ is a canard invented by the twitter comms team to explain falling metrics.[#LongTWTR]

    1. Mario Cantin

      It takes some effort to tune up properly and you have to “get it” to be bothered with that. It’s clearly here to stay, however, whether it stays independent of gets bought by Microsoft or something.

    2. Richard

      Exactly, it’s never been about difficulty to to use, it about twitters pathetic approach to marketing the BENEFITS of the platform. Yet, Fred gives dick and now jack a free pass. You’d expect this from GM 1990, yes, but Twitter??

    3. LE

      Twitter couldn’t be any easier to use.The mass of people (what twitter wants engagement with) don’t have brains like you do. This is actually one of the reasons that computer nerds give their time away in certain cases so cheaply. The underestimate how hard it is for someone who is not a nerd to do something on a computer. So they think “this is so easy I can’t charge a high price for something that is so simple for me to do”. (Subliminal of course not sure if they actually go and think about it). Other professionals as a group don’t operate the same way. The structure of the education process gets them all in line as one cohesive group pricing wise. Hence an attorney will charge you (in some cases) for even sending out a letter or an email. And people are conditioned to pay that money and bitch but not really question it.It’s not hard to use but the learning process and usage is not intuitive.Just look at one example Fred gave:. before the @ signHow the fuck is a new user or any user supposed to learn or know that? And why should they?Don’t make me think at least before you’ve sucked me into the value of the product.

  4. Dan Moore

    Twitter is the only major public social network that has a “command line”. (I would argue that slack has one too.). By command line, I mean text based syntax that must be learned.Command lines have great power, but the tradeoff is that they are less accessible.

  5. Sarthak Haribhakti

    Love this. It’s surprising to me that people don’t look at it as a learning/communication/connections tool.Here’s how it can be used for growth, learning, and finding jobs –

  6. JimHirshfield

    Geo-stamped along your commute last night. #TrainOfThought

  7. LIAD

    In the 11 mins to send that Tweetstorm it tracked you through 5 locations.Moriches –> East Moriches –> Eastport –> Speonk –> Westhamptonkinda freaky

    1. fredwilson

      I was on a train

    2. jason wright

      Bloody hell, that’s intrusive.

  8. Anne Libby

    Trolls and death threats, unchecked, are a problem. Harassing speech is also a problem in real life, and yet we don’t let people follow someone around, yelling threats.If we saw this happening in Times Square, we’d do something to stop it. We haven’t figured out how to do this on the online public square.

    1. awaldstein

      Can you state in a simple statement what Twitter is and their stand on how they address this?I can’t. I like and use Twitter.To me that they don’t have an articuable authentic statement of who they are and what they are about is the single biggest issue.

      1. Twain Twain

        BuzzFeed: “Talk to enough Twitter insiders and one thing becomes painfully evident: The company’s understanding of its platform hasn’t always been clear to employees, even at senior levels — a problem that has made it difficult to understand how to police harassment. One source recalls that, when asked, Jack Dorsey refused to answer exactly what kind of tool Twitter was. “He said, ‘Twitter brings you closer,’” the former employee recalled. “And I said, ‘To what?’ and he replied, ‘Our users always finish that sentence for us.’ And to me, I thought, Well, it’s going to be really difficult to set policy in place if we can’t define what this thing is.””*

      2. Anne Libby


      3. JamesHRH

        They never have.Jack’s greatest failing.

      4. Twain Twain

        From Quora: “3. Jack Dorsey Doesn’t Answer Investor Questions Directly. This pisses off investors (trust me). A public company CEO has to be great at answering investor questions directly to maximize shareholder price. Otherwise, how the heck is an investor supposed to explain to their bosses why they can’t get their questions answered and are still investing.”*

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Twitter introduced a quality filter for verified users. On a recent podcast a prominent individual who has been targeted by harassment said it made a huge difference once they were verified.

        1. kevando

          Can someone explain to me why this is a problem? I dont have enough followers to be a “target” I guess, but can’t you just mute people or block people?

          1. Twain Twain

            The network effect works for and against Twitter.It means that, if there’s harassment, a user can block a handful of people but they’ll have shared their post harassing the user to all their followers who then also pile onto the user’s tweets to harass them.

          2. Drew Meyers

            famous people still have to deal with all those bozos the 1st time… prior to muting/blocking. At that scale, that’s no easy (or fun) task.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Right. Why isn’t this a major PR push for them? They roll this stuff out and it’s almost like they’re trying to whisper it to the folks who need it. Like trying to keep the secret in the closet. It’s not a secret. People are afraid to join Twitter because of what they’ve heard. Twitter needs to be shouting its changes from the rooftops.

    3. falicon

      Actually in Times Square, most people would walk by with their head down, then gawk as they got a little distance from it…all the while saying “somebody should do something about that crazy person”…sadly the the “somebody” syndrome is still way too common in a crowd.

      1. Anne Libby

        In Real New York City Life, I have been helped by strangers when being harassed (as recently as a few months ago, on the train), and stepped up to help others.In real life, “somebody” often shows up, and their presence matters. On Twitter, not so much. #problem

        1. laurie kalmanson

          kindness of strangers is one of the great humanizing facts of life in nyc. i was coming out of the subway with my daughter and her bff and we saw a small, older woman struggling with packages; i asked if i could help, and when i saw that she didn’t understand, i gestured; she assessed that we didn’t look like thieves, so we took her things to the top of the steps and waited for her there …

          1. Drew Meyers


          2. Anne Libby

            So true!!!

  9. awaldstein

    I’m a fan.I find your analogy interesting–maybe true–and if so a damn hard one to scale.

  10. Twain Twain

    Article on Twitter #hashtags being useless for business:*…Not a Twitter hater. It’s not my strategic problem to solve and I use it alongside other tools.Focusing on the Nat Lang understanding problem in human+machine intelligence.

    1. Twain Twain

      Twitter let’s me share my thoughts on AI with people interested in the topic who are and aren’t connected with me on LinkedIn.For example, Will Knight of MIT Technology Review wrote a great piece on how none of the leading techco’s and AI researchers know how to build systems to understand our natural language.So I found Will on Twitter and started tweetstorming him and the leading AI folks at Stanford and Facebook whom I haven’t yet met IRL.Alongside Fred and others who do already know me.

  11. Vendita Auto

    Personally @ my timeline I really like Twitter, however looking at the expectations of another generation noted this ?

  12. pointsnfigures

    Agree. Blogged about Twitter myself today. I think it’s going to take a different attitude by management. Seems to me they are trying to force users down paths the mgmt wants them to take rather than building for customers.

    1. awaldstein

      gee that is a good strategy.

  13. Steve Poland

    Excerpt from a blog post I never published this summer about this very topic:I have asked friends that don’t really use Twitter, why they don’t use it more. They all tell me the same thing: “I don’t know what to say”. I follow that with, “Most Twitter users don’t even tweet; it’s an information source. It’s the news.” That typically falls flat.I have no idea how to help a friend create her interest graph. It took me years to curate my own. All of that time I’ve spent tweaking Twitter into a well-oiled machine for my informational needs, is exactly why you’d be dragging me kicking and screaming to get off Twitter. I NEED Twitter. It’s not just love, it’s NECESSITY.

  14. andyswan

    Twitter isn’t hard to use. Most people are just afraid to speak in front of strangers. And for good reason.That’s why they seek the comfort of Facebook, where their real-life friends will give them likes for the most poorly, written, idiotic and mundane things possible.On Facebook it doesn’t matter if you’re boring…you’ve got a captive audience who knows if they give you the like, you’ll pass that sweet dopamine drip right back to them the next time they paste some “day two of my diet” inspirational quote.On snapchat, they get the satisfaction of only having to take a picture…upon which they can add layers to hide even their face from scrutiny, and know that the whole idiotic episode will disappear within seconds.On Twitter, people can and will post retorts. They’ll blow holes in your logic, and they might even call you names. So you either safely retweet popular people or withdraw to the warm “safe space” of Favebook where no one actually thinks about what you say and rewards you for doing the same in return.Twitter is for the strong. Let’s keep it that way.P.S. Great Tweetstorm and points knucklehead.

    1. awaldstein

      Each thing to its own purpose.Twitter is super useful and oddly precise in finding things and people. Engagement wise for me, not really.Facebook is a high school battle of the bands mostly but has the comment infrastructure and the population to drive discussions in ways Twitter can’t.I want to find a Shopify developer in the UK. I use Twitter.I want to share something about how to donate inherited furs to animal shelters to a population of baby boomers all facing the realities of life, or to connect with people on my upcoming trip to Europe, Facebook just works.

    2. cavepainting

      it is hard to use when you are new.

    3. ErikSchwartz

      “Twitter is for the strong.”You should run their marketing. 🙂

      1. andyswan

        I’ve been telling Fred that for 8 years. Lol

        1. LE

          Sure! Great way to grow the value of the service and get more users onboard!!!Twitter is for the strong. Let’s keep it that way.

    4. Vivek Kumar

      It’s hard to see that value when you are a nubie, specially when your thoughts are not validated by your existing social network

      1. Rob Underwood

        Yes, and I think there is confirmation bias in this discussion in of itself given there are a number of well known people participating (our host, Andy, etc.) who have their own following outside Twitter. For someone who is new to Twitter, and is not well known – perhaps yesterday’s Newark teacher for example, they can experience an “I don’t get it” after doing a few tweets and getting zero engagement or validation. This of course depresses MAU.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Not that I do this enough, myself. But just follow people and respond to their tweets. Amazing who will respond back to you!I did this a lot more early on and have friends to this day as a result.

        1. Vivek Kumar

          Yes, but following the right person initially was a pain

    5. LE

      Most people are just afraid to speak in front of strangers. And for good reason.I don’t agree that that’s a significant factor. At least for the average non-famous user. Reason is it’s sort of well known (popular culture wise at least I am not referring to studies) that people will do things from the protection of their car that they wouldn’t do if actually in front of someone. Twitter offers a similar type of protection.where their real-life friends will give them likes for the most poorly, written, idiotic and mundane things possible.Agree with that but that’s a separate dynamic than “afraid to speak in front of strangers”.They’ll blow holes in your logic, and they might even call you names. So you either safely retweet popular people or withdraw to the warm “safe space” of Favebook where no one actually thinks about what you say and rewards you for doing the same in return.Who are these “they” that you refer to? For the majority of twitter ‘users’ including me you can’t get anyone to pay any attention to anything that they put up there. God knows if you have the secret formula to get even negative attention let me know.

    6. sigmaalgebra

      > Twitter isn’t hard to use.Badly wrong: It’s a total pain in the back side to use unless find some documentation or have someone give you a tutorial.Likely most Twitter users learned just by guessing and experimenting with Twitter. And the results are likely poor understanding of some possibly important aspects.Likely using Twitter with poor understanding is risky: For anyone who cares at all about privacy or security, they should have good understanding of privacy and security on Twitter — just guessing and experimenting are poor approaches.In simple terms, likely shouldn’t get involved with anything on Twitter wouldn’t want everyone to know for the rest of all of time! E.g., if a person starts to be a public person, even, say, on a local school board, then they may have enemies who will dig up everything they can on that person from Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Disqus, etc. My first response: Online, be anonymous.Or, for most people, if want to be a public person, then be as cautious as, say, Mike Pence.Trump? Apparently way back to early in his business career he wanted publicity, to be well known, to have a personal brand, and worked successfully to this end. No doubt there were then lots of costs in personal and family security, lots of really nasty media attacks, constraints on what people were willing to be friends, associates, employees, etc. Apparently, broadly, for a public person, the media will use them as raw material for outrageous headlines to get eyeballs for ad revenue.Well, apparently early in his business, Trump charged strongly and deliberately into that role as a public person.Then since announcing for POTUS, he did much more of the same and got maybe $2 billion worth of free publicity.But, now, Trump is rich enough to be able to be such a person and, still, protect himself and his family — likely only a rich person could afford the costs.So, back to Twitter: Most people need to be careful about being a public person.My view of Linkedin: Give up your anonymity for free so that Linkedin can make money; really, pay Linkedin to cancel your anonymity. No thanks!Net, if make much use of Twitter, then there are likely some risks to privacy and security so that people so concerned should be careful and well informed on just how Twitter works — becoming so informed is part of why Twitter is difficult to use.

      1. andyswan

        You talk too much for Twitter anyway

        1. sigmaalgebra

          You are correct: Twitter is for exploiting simple minded people who think in less than 100 characters, don’t have much to say, understand even less than they do say, and don’t understand that they are being exploited by Twitter to give up their anonymity and security to add at most just pennies to the Twitter revenue.You are correct again: I don’t fit in with you, the other currently cool people in the Twitter in-crowd, and that little bird “Tweat, tweat”!There is a fundamental principle here: A social media application needs a mass audience, and there can be no mass audiences of exceptional people. Or “God sure must have loved the common man because he made so many of them.”So, you are correct again: Yup, you saw it! Such perception! Yup, I don’t fit in with the mass audiences!And, you see even more: Right, when Twitter was planned, to concentrate on their mass audience, it was deliberate to filter out all but simple minded users! Maybe they looked at me individually and thought that I was a good example of users they didn’t want! Is that what you are suggesting?So, Twitter is a safe playpen for simple minded people — they can be sure they will find only others like themselves with no challenges over 100 characters!Ah, apparently Twitter did leave two holes! First, there can be tweat storms! Second, can post images that have text longer than just the 100 characters!While it is easy to understand a lot about mass audiences, only a true insider like you can have real finger tip feel! So, for us outsiders, explain to us how it is to be one of the currently cool Twitter people!

          1. LE

            Twitter is for exploiting simple minded people who think in less than 100 charactersI agree. I would probably substitute “short attention” though for “simple minded”. Btw, noting that even here on AVC some of the highest upvoted comments are short quips of one line or so which everyone can easily digest and agree with.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            I was responding to Andy’s insult.Occasionally I make short comments at AVC.I don’t fit in very well at AVC. Part of why I come here is to clarify and better understand the lack of fit!Generally, for better or worse, I’m me and change at most slowly.In particular, for business, it is 100% totally clear to me that for any success I have to be in some significant ways exceptional. Sure, some of those ways are from my emphasis on math, especially for my startup.Yes, the math means that I won’t fit in anywhere except some applied math departments, e.g., the one where I went to grad school. The flip side of this situation is that I will have no competition for the math I derived and am using.A standard remark about startups is “anything you thought of, at least 10 other people have already thought of and are pursuing” or some such. Well, for the crucial, core math of my startup, that statement is wildly false. Indeed, there likely are not as many as 10 people in all the world doing startups of any kind who could understand the math I derived even if I tried to explain it to them. Their ability to derive that math is a bit less than that of a whale coming ashore in CA, running to Denver, and attacking airplanes on their airport. And for my startup, that core math really is just crucial — without my math, or something very close, the results would suck and the startup necessarily flop.There’s a lot of attention to AI and ML, and there is some math in there for the small fraction of people who want to look at it, but that math is very far from what I derived. More generally, the math the AI, ML, CS people concentrate on is as narrow as the point of a needle — what’s on the shelves of the QA section of a research library is the universe in comparison. And what I derived is not on those shelves.So, that math sets me apart. People would resent it.But for the success I seek, I must be exceptional, and the math is some of that.In a world of round holes, exceptional people tend to be square pegs. Tough both to be exceptional and fit in with everyone else. There is a fundamental thing about being exceptional — are in a group that is a tiny fraction of the whole.And the success I seek is also that exceptional. Sure, I don’t really need such rare success, but at this point that potential, instead of just a life style business, costs me nothing extra in time, money, or effort.So, I don’t fit in. Yup. That’s not a sufficient condition for success, but it’s nearly necessary. So, I should not be surprised or concerned.

          3. Lawrence Brass

            I use Twitter as a newsfeed, almost read only. I think it still hasn’t been contaminated by advertising or canned content in a way that makes it unusable. Maybe that is the real ‘problem’ investors see with it. These days seems nothing is defensible or valuable without considering advertising.The relevant thing for me is how these relatively new ways we are using to communicate are changing the way we think and interact, specially for the younger generations. You may dislike the format or, as LE puts it, the short attention span it requires and promotes, but you can’t ignore it and dismiss it, specially if you are building a business in this century.Also, if used properly, it is a very powerful marketing tool.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            Yes, for publicity for my startup, I will have to consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.But to use Twitter for publicity, would have to post and not use it just as a news feed!

        2. jason wright

          and U said that?

    7. zackmansfield

      Twitter isn’t hard to use as a lurker, as a follower. It’s really quite easy if you are, say, interested in Washington Redskins football, to hop on twitter and find a dozen people (beat reporters, bloggers, players, etc) who also love Redskins football and tweet about it a ton every day.What’s hard, and you hit the nail on the head here Andy, is figuring out what voice to use on Twitter as a content creator. One aspect of this is your assertion that people don’t want to speak out to strangers. Hugely true for the majority of people.And also the power of the platform, that those whoe *are* willing to have a voice, are able to build a platform out of NOTHING and have a powerful powerful impact.[and we’re not even going to get into the real time part, which is obviously the most powerful part of twitter, and always has been]Twitter’s asymmetry has always been it’s greatest source of power – what other platform allows you to interact directly and at scale with *anyone* in the world. Want to tweet at your fave athlete? Boom. They might even tweet back. You don’t have to be facebook friends with them.But the asymmetry is also the weakness – there will be I think an inherent bifurcation between mass content creators and mass content consumers. Whether this is sustainable long term (in terms of ability to continue to grow the service/users) I don’t know.

    8. Quantella Owens

      “Twitter isn’t hard to use. Most people are just afraid to speak in front of strangers. And for good reason.”+100

      1. Drew Meyers

        @andyswan:disqus “Twitter isn’t hard to use. Most people are just afraid to speak in front of strangers. And for good reason.”yup yup. There’s no core “problem” twitter solves for the majority of the world. Why would they speak out and risk ridicule just for the hell of it.. they wouldn’t (and don’t).

    9. fredwilson

      Thanks. I am happy to wear that crown today

    10. Lawrence Brass

      “The knucklehead”, one of Pokémon Go’s rarest Pokémon.

    11. Chimpwithcans

      What a great post.

  15. Steve Poland

    Any thoughts on the blog post spinning around last night regarding the reporter whose account was banned after he took an animated GIF of IOC content from Reddit and reposted to Twitter?Built up an account with 100K followers, 69K tweets, and within 13 minutes was permanently banned from Twitter via automated emails and no human interaction.It’s scary to me that this can happen. Most commenters say he deserved it and didn’t follow the rules. But “the rules” have continued to blur over the years and it’s hard to keep track of “the rules” Twitter (or any social media site) is following. An NHL blogger @myregularface puts out the best video clips of NHL plays as animated GIFs so they can easily be consumed and shared on Twitter; it’s great. She was banned. Then the NHL community uproared and she wasn’t any longer; the NHL responded with “it wasn’t us.” (Which no one seemed to believe)

  16. laurie kalmanson

    My curated news wire. I love it.

  17. Joel Strellner

    They’re making is so Tweets that start with an @ will no longer be hidden from your followers if it is not a reply. If it’s a reply, it will operate like it does now. That should help with your first point.

  18. sigmaalgebra

    Yes, good end user documentation is important.It is non-trivial to say this because there has been a long theme in computing, apparently heavily from Xerox PARC, where the user interface was supposed to be intuitive: The usage was supposed to be obvious because it was to be a metaphor of things people already knew well. Next, with that excuse available, computing in effect shouted “Free at last!” from writing documentation and, really, felt free to be obscure.The next excuse was that the user interface was supposed to be learned by the users by experimentation. And, really, computing got a culture that spread an aversion to writing documentation and to being clear and with some pride in being obscure. E.g., there was “ego driven” coding where the programmer tried to write code others would have to struggle to understand.So, we come to Twitter: I never saw any clear explanation about anything about Twitter — Fred’s post here was the first. I have no idea what a hash tag is.Sure, for using Twitter, I could do some Google searches and dig out a lot, write my own documentation, etc. I could do that. I’ve done such things, often, for years, too often for too many years — its wasteful, insulting, and infuriating.To me, if the Twitter people want me to use their stuff, then they need to DOCUMENT their stuff. If they don’t do the documentation, then maybe they are arrogantly regarding themselves as the leaders of a fad crowd of insiders, and I don’t want to support such or be regarded as such.Facebook? Again, I have seen no documentation. Also, the user interface seems to have major changes for each time I login. And the screen jumps around, and won’t stop jumping around, so that most of what is there I can’t read. And, really, I don’t know how Facebook works. I understand that there were some privacy concerns — I can believe that. I don’t understand even the first thing about privacy at Facebook. So, net, I make nearly no use of Facebook.There’s more, that is, more cases of obscure material: Now a common term in the media is a “dog whistle”. Sure, there’s no clear definition. So, terminology without a definition is meaningless gibberish and, to me, pointless and wasteful and, thus, not news, information, or content. My response is to ignore anything using that terminology and move on. I doubt I am missing anything important.Maybe somewhere there is an essay — “How to Be Rich and Famous and Chased by Beautiful Young Women by Creating Gibberish Nonsense and Being Obscure and Worthless”. Okay.

  19. Rob Underwood

    I like Twitter (I’m @brooklynrob ) a lot. It’s my go-to social media platform.Here are my issues as a “regular Joe” user. I am not famous and have 1,700 users- The RT was (and still is) superior to the favorite. In the early days, it was through others’ RT-ing my tweet that I would pick up new followers. This is how I found new people to follow.- The favorite feels sometimes like “Sure I like you and will stay over at your place but let’s not tell anyone we’re dating” I still feel like the RT is better, more useful, more meaningful endorsement.- Assuming given the public nature the idea should be to gain followers, I don’t know how to do that in a truly organic way which was the best part of early Twitter. I have my tweets RT-ed by people who have hundreds of thousands and even millions of followers, which in turn spawned dozens of other RTS, and not picked up single follower.- Unless you are famous in some other way, like our host is around in tech and venture capital, if you have much over 3,000 followers I get very skeptical about how you acquired those followers. When I do a check using one of several tools for fake followers inevitably fI ind out that a friend of mine in real life has bought a ton of followers. That seems so cheap and scammy and awful. I end up losing a lot of respect for the person who bought fake followers (maybe that’s my hang up).- While I am most definitely not famous, I am, as my friend Leigh Ann says “active in Brooklyn” and have things in Bk and at times nationally that could generate a follower or two and perhaps why I have the 1,700 I do – in these things I am not shy about my views, and even provocative. I wonder what the use case is for, say, my mom who is a special ed teacher in Maine now retired. She uses Facebook a lot and some chat tools too. She does not use Twitter. How would she engage in discussions on Twitter? Who with? What is the Twitter experience like if you have <100 followers? It is “read only” — a bystanders POV?- Joining in on semi-private conversations, which I sometimes do do, feels awkward and even vaguely stalkerish, especially when you join on a semi-private conversation between non-famous people. This is a bummer, as it’s fundamentally a public (or at least non-private) discussion forum. More generally I just don’t see as much rich back and forth discussion happening.- All in all, I feel like there is very little engagement on most of what I tweet. It just goes out there into the ether and no one ever sees it. I can now access the metrics that validate that.- That the API has at times been significantly changed breaking developer apps in a major way is a problem. Devs have to feel confident that APIs will be backward compatible- The fact that if I’m reply to 5-6 people I’ll only have 40-50 characters to write my message is a problem.Again, I’m a Twitter fan. I use is all the time and love it. It’s amazing when news is breaking. I want it to win.

    1. falicon

      I think it’s all about who you follow, and not so much about who follows you.I guess that’s the Twitter version of “ask not what your country can do for you” line 🙂

      1. Rob Underwood

        Expand on that. I feel like I follow a pretty diverse cross-section of people that represent interests of mine.

        1. falicon

          I just feel like 99% of the value comes from being able to peek in on the conversations and thoughts of the people you are most interested in/choose to be influenced by…and having the ability to jump into those conversations and add value directly and in real time.If you do that consistently and with high quality, you will naturally build your rep. and get more of your own attention share (but it should be an organic by-product of you getting your own value out of the system )

          1. Rob Underwood

            Got it. And that has worked for me to a limited degree.A question — is Twitter built on the fundamental assumption that everyone wants more attention (i.e., followers)? Truly asking — thinking out loud. If the answer is “yes” (again, not sure), can it make sense for people who do not crave/want more/a lot/any followers.

          2. falicon

            I think it’s built on the idea of lightweight broadcasting (it was literally built based on the aol instant messenger ‘status’ feature) …not about followers at all really. Just about being able to share with the “world”, or whomever might be interested in you, whatever tidbit is on your mind.

          3. Salt Shaker

            Depends who you are, no? If you’re a journalist, entertainer, athlete, etc., then the number of followers you have on TWTR is a badge of honor, a reflection of your popularity (and your vanity too). If you’re using TWTR to enlighten your world from industry thought-leaders, to aggregate news info, etc., then the number of followers you have is less impt., and perhaps even unimportant. Conversely, with LinkedIn the number of contacts you have is impt, whether right or wrong, cause it’s a reflection of whether you’re a “player” or well-connected in your industry. HR folks, in varying degree, often use that metric when evaluating candidates, particularly in areas like sales, biz dev, etc.

          4. Rob Underwood

            I get that. But for my cousin who works as line cook in a restaurant in Maine, or another cousin who installs solar panels in Colorado, how do they derive value out of Twitter? They use FB, Instagram, and Snapchat with friends and family. But I’m 99.9% sure neither use Twitter and I’d be hard pressed to think of a good reason for them to join other than custom streams of news or sports. My wonder – and I mean this as a true wonder aloud – is if Twitter risk not fundamentally at risk of becoming a tool where most of the discussion and engagement happens among the famous, elites, and well connected, with some (though hardly all) of the rest of us just watching passively.

          5. Salt Shaker

            I think that’s why TWTR is pursing a sports and entertainment strat to make participation more appealing for a broader and more mainstream audience. There’s already too much passivity and a large sub base who are inactive. Sports/entertainment partnerships serve as a stimulus to drive usage. If TWTR continues to be a discussion dominated by the “elite” (e.g., thought-leaders, actors, athletes, entertainers) w/ out participation by a growing user base, then they’ll seriously look to bail. I think the NFL deal will be a true test of their ability to grow subs and usage.

          6. Rob Underwood

            Yes, well put. That (your theory) makes a lot of sense.What bums me out – and, look I get it, you can’t go back – is that in the early days what made Twitter so damn sexy was the interesting discussions that were had among “Joe Q Public” folks like myself with other non-famous people. Not only did that, through RTs, lead to discovery, but it was fun and was a real reason for non-famous people (or those with a reason to self-promote) to use Twitter. I loved those “conversations with the world” in the early days of Twitter.Now the little real discussion that happens seem to almost always involve a “famous person” as the initiator or prime participant, and much seems to be driven by some cheap, 5 sec thrill of someone well know giving you a “fav”. It’s a lot of star f*cking.Just look at the depth of discussion here today (or yesterday) on disqus vs. twitter. Again, different platforms, different purposes, but the depth is not even comparable. Moreover there are all whole threads that go deep without either our host (or Andy S, or Brad F, etc.) being active.

  20. William Mougayar

    I admire your continued optimism about Twitter,- they are like one of your children that you would love and support, even if they didn’t turn out the way you had hoped.That tweetstorm is true and well taken, but shouldn’t be a cope out to Twitter for not succeeding at improving themselves.

    1. creative group

      William Mougayar:When does the financial stake that promotes being Evangelist in Chief to just acknowledging the platform just isn’t designed to change life’s. If everyone discontinued using Twitter or it goes away would it actually fundamentally change your life?Disclosure: No long or short position in Twitter.

      1. William Mougayar

        Well, I am long on Twitter too, and value their service and benefits, so it would change my life if they disappeared. But what I’m saying is – I still wished they would improve, without compromising what got them there.

        1. Twain Twain

          They are compromising and improving.Buzzfeed: “Weeks later, when a rash of beheading videos appeared, Costolo gave similar takedown orders, causing Twitter’s free speech advocates, Gabriel Stricker and Vijaya Gadde, to call an emergency policy meeting.Inside the meeting, attended by Costolo, Stricker, Gadde, and product head Kevin Weil (now Instagram’s product lead) and first reported by BuzzFeed News, tensions rose as Costolo’s desire to build a more palatable network that was marketable and ultimately attractive to new users clashed with Stricker and Gadde’s desire for radically free expression.“You really think we should have videos of people being murdered?” someone who attended the meeting recalls Costolo arguing, while Stricker reportedly compared Costolo’s takedown of undesirable content to deleting the Zapruder film after objections from the Kennedy family. Ultimately, the meeting ended with the group deciding to carve out policy exceptions to keep up grisly content for newsworthiness, according to one person present. Though Stricker and Gadde won, one source described a frustrated Costolo leaving in disagreement. “I think if you guys have your way the only people using Twitter will be ISIS and the ACLU,” Costolo said, according to this person.”*…@fredwilson:disqus — It’s gob-smacking that JFK’s assassination was cited by Twitter’s then Chief Communications Officer Gabriel Stricker as the reason to keep the beheading videos by terrorists.Recently, Twitter reported they’ve removed 235,000 accounts that promote terrorism since Feb 2016:* https://www.washingtonpost….As Twitter users, we don’t have parental rights to change the child’s behavior. Investors have some foster parent rights as “vested interests”.Mostly, it’s the responsibility of the CEO and their management as parents.

      2. Drew Meyers

        No, it wouldnt’ fundamentally change my life. Their (lack of growth) challenge is entirely explainable:

        1. creative group

          Drew Meyers:It was another innovative technology that people didn’t think they could live without but was replaced. You may have seen one in a history book. A telephone booth. People actually thought they couldn’t live without it.

          1. Drew Meyers

            Twitter is an insanely awesome tool for biz dev/founders/sales professionals. So yes it would suck if it didn’t exist for me personally.But I don’t think there’s any real problem it solves for the average consumer that doesn’t do networking or biz intelligence as part of their job. I know not everyone shares my view the vast majority of news is’s my belief people would be a lot happier if they didn’t concern themselves with all the entertainment/news… it’s largely a waste of attention/time from my perspective.

          2. creative group

            Drew Meyers:What is your space you use Twitter? Occupation, Business Interest?#TERMLIMITS#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT#TRUEINDEPENDENT

    2. Richard

      How to interpret Fred’s Tweetstorm: Messaging to the left of me, Snap Chat/Facebook to the right me, I’m stuck in the middle with you

    3. LE

      they are like one of your children that you would love and support, even if they didn’t turn out the way you had hoped.Don’t look for the zebras. Fred has a large position in twitter.

  21. Frank W. Miller

    I luv it. A discussion of how wonky Twitter is done in a tweetstorm. The need to separate the messaging being Twitter’s simultaneously greatest, and most endearing wonkiness.

  22. panterosa,

    I’m mystified about Twitter for business. They send me emails all the time. I have not had one sale thru Twitter, but many on other platforms (FB, Insta). Yes I can reach people in my industry, but I can do that just as well other ways. Don’t know anyone else who has had sales via Twitter either.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Yeah. I would never look at Twitter for sales. I would look at it, though, for research and community. It’s a good place to really connect with very specific ‘tribes’ and get to know them, learn what matters to them.

      1. panterosa,

        So why bother with Twitter for Business when they specifically mention boosting sales….. Am I the only one thinking this service is useless? Because if so, they should can it or revamp it.@fredwilson:disqus any additional thoughts here?

      2. creative group

        Kirsten Lambertsen:Another Facebook with limited 140 characters. We pass on social media unless it can increase deals that close. (Commercial RE Investing)We can remember when Yahoo was the King of the land with the chat-rooms. Which enabled us to have real time discussions about Day-trading with our counterparts in London and Asia. The business space we occupy now still doesn’t require social media to communicate. Live communication is essential. (Google Duo)

    2. LE

      I get those emails also. They aren’t well done at all marketing wise and seem very simplistic. And I get them regularly almost spam level.

    3. Quantella Owens

      I don’t know the rules of posting links here. I see some people do it with no ill effects and others, not so much. I’m assuming that it’s a “no-no” for me so I’ll direct you to the best article I have ever read on Twitter marketing, which I read even though I don’t have a Twitter account, by simply telling you about it. It is by a guest poster on Buffer and it’s called “Hashtags Aren’t Gimmicks.” I hope it is helpful for you.

  23. cavepainting

    Twitter seems flummoxed partly because addressing two vastly different types of audiences and needs in the same app is like taking a step backward for every step you take forward. Introducing or changing features that work for both audiences is incredibly hard.I sometimes wonder if they may be better off with two different apps optimized for two different audiences. The apps will share the same back-end and services, but use very different front-ends. Over time, a casual user can migrate to being a power user by choice.

  24. ErikSchwartz

    There is a lot of power in a CLI. Once you get over the learning curve…

    1. LE

      It’s not just learning curve it’s how people are wired. They are not wired for that type of complexity. They are wired for things that are simple and don’t make them think. I drive a 7 speed manual transmission. I love it. But I realize that most people want automatics. And I accept that. Even after they have gotten used to and know how to shift and not stall out. Same with powerboating vs. sailboats for that matter. Sailing much more satisfying but most people don’t want the extra work and overhead. Most people don’t want to build their own furniture others find it a fun satisfying process. Same with cooking. I love to cook my own egg in the morning. Most people probably would prefer someone else do the cooking.I do everything I can from a command line interface. I love the flexibility and power that it gives me. I get a rush just from creating a shell routine that solves a problem. Most people don’t, even if they knew how to do it they still would prefer a web form or a GUI.

  25. ErikSchwartz

    11/ Twitter is that person who is hard to get to know but once you get past their hard exterior turn out to be the best friend you ever had— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) August 24, 2016<script async=”” src=”//…” charset=”utf-8″></script>Twitter is the emacs of social networks.

  26. jason wright

    Fred Wilson: “In case you missed it, …”Which sums up Twitter’s flaw perfectly. A deliciously ironic blog post.Think of a black hole in space. Everything that’s inside is invisible from the outside. Everything that’s outside is not inside.How to cross Twitter’s event horizon but still remain visible from the outside?

  27. Tom Maxwell

    I’m 20-years old, and I’ve been using Twitter since I was 12. The platform has honestly been somewhat of an arbitrage opportunity for me, being interested as I am in tech journalism. Where else do you get this type of unfettered access to some of the smartest people in your industry? I was born into a family with no connections, in a city with no tech community. You get the chance to develop a name and rapport with other like-minded individuals; the stakes aren’t high like with email. Now I have lots of real-world friends in the industry I met through Twitter. I met my roommate through Twitter. 8 years of this access and ability to jump into conversations with your own questions or insights is incredible. It doesn’t seem like many others of similar age have recognized this. I love Twitter.

  28. Kirsten Lambertsen

    As I’ve said before, I love Twitter. It’s a life-changing product for me. I would be devastated if it went away. So I have strong opinions.They’re doing things to improve the harassment problem, but somehow, they’re not vocal enough about it. I don’t understand why they aren’t getting more out in front of the *messaging* around the issue. If they’re engaging their community on it, I don’t see it.Right now people are afraid to get started on Twitter because of what they’ve heard about the abuse. “Moments” ain’t gonna overcome that.If they want Twitter to become a world-class media company where everybody wants/needs to be, they *have* to take steps to elevate it above being a Reddit-style trash fire. We’re not asking for perfection here, just practical well-tested solutions that could be employed now.You can go to bed and wake up in the morning to a mountain of abuse and death threats, threats to rape your child in your mentions before you have time to block the asshole. Damage is already done. Does anyone really think that a parent can be satisfied with “just block ’em” after some sick piece of garbage has spent the entire night crafting rape threats against their 7-year-old daughter?There are reputation systems out there as models already that could be implemented on Twitter to help greatly reduce this bad behavior. I know that Dorsey wants people to be able to do everything right away (I do, too). But let’s require a certain amount of reputation earned before you can @ someone, or @ someone more than 3 times in a row. Verified accounts can do more right away. Etc.I don’t know if they’re employing any NLP to help spot potential abuse. Would it be so bad to pop a prompt to a user before they were allowed to @ someone if the text contains certain words? Just something like, “We see you used the words ‘rape’ and ‘bitch’ in this tweet. Before continuing please confirm that you are not violating Twitter’s code of conduct.”I understand the drive to keep the message on the ‘positive’ things like Moments and streaming video. But the horse is out of the barn. Twitter needs to not just address harassment but *own* and *lead* the discussion around reducing it.

    1. LE

      You can go to bed and wake up in the morning to a mountain of abuse and death threats, threats to rape your child in your mentions before you have time to block the asshole.Did that happen to you? Or are you saying you’ve heard it happens? Pretty amazing I didn’t know that.I wonder if there would be an easy way that you could simply shutoff receiving any inbound messages overnight and re-enable in the morning. That way you could simply kill access for someone (I guess?) after you saw the first message.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Thankfully, this hasn’t happened to me. But I know people it’s happened to, without question, for real.Remember, Twitter is anonymous and allows you to create new accounts just about as fast as you want to. So with harassers, it’s like a nightmare game of Whack-a-mole from hell. That’s why I’m for more assertive *preventative* measures like reputation milestones. I think it makes perfect sense for Twitter.

  29. Sandhar

    I am not sure that “wonky syntax” is more awesome than a simple interface. And do enough people care about “semi private convo”? For mass market, Twitter might be a good “read” tool but seems too wonky to be a “post/write” tool.

  30. Kirsten Lambertsen

    To riff on Anne’s point a little:Twitter is a *city*.Like any city it offers a community for everyone. But first you have to find your way around. Learn the transportation system and the neighborhoods. The more you explore, the more fun it is and the more a citizen you feel.And if you’re getting mugged or harassed every fifth time you go out to explore, you’re going to fall out of love with that city. The best cities protect their citizens as much as possible while trying to avoid infringing on their freedom as much as possible. And they do everything they can to make getting around enjoyable.

  31. Rob Underwood

    While I get that disqus and twitter are different platforms build for different sets of use cases, it’s telling that the daily AVC discussion can’t really work on Twitter and needs something like disqus. This (AVC disqus) is still a public forum mind you, will followers and replies, so not totally dissimilar. Is the length the reason this would’t work on twitter? threading? (truly wondering out loud). Has the follow on discussion on Twitter from the tweet storm been as deep as this?

  32. Bruce Warila

    Tweetstorms deplete my attention capital account faster than a twenty dollar slot machine. And, talking about them seems like more secret twitter handshake stuff. Then again, Moses delivered the ten commandments on rocks.

  33. Pete Griffiths

    I know you’re in love, Fred. But the girl is problematic.

  34. joelatone

    A meta-comment, because I can no longer comment on the downfall of Twitter:A better way to do tweetstorms is a “reply-to-self-storm,” e.g.,…. Your followers will get proper formatting/grouping/ordering for readability of both the storm and the comments/conversation.

  35. laurie kalmanson

    main #ux issues: the experience ironically is better on the laptop/desktop than on mobilelaptop/desktop — click on a link in a tweet, open another tab, keep scrolling in your twiter tab, read other tab latermobile — click on a link, go there, open in safari? y? open a browser … several clicks back to return from whence you camei prefer using it on a laptop/desktop, even tho at its heart it’s a mobile experience

    1. panterosa,

      I agree, and that’s counter-design.

  36. Salt Shaker

    TWTR’s probs can largely be summed up in 3 words: marketing, marketing, marketing. They have a great product but they haven’t truly harnessed who they are or what they want to be, other than having a desire to grow usage and engagement. I still think an event, entertainment and sports strat is their best shot at opening the flood gates to new users. Their partnership w/ the NFL will be a good test of a broader based “affinity” strat for driving engagement.

  37. creative group


  38. leapy

    Two points regarding the friction to using Twitter.A) Usability.i) posting a tweet UI is like Google – a simple box – users have a choice of adding boolian syntax to their search or not. Maybe give non-expert users a tick box choice of who sees their post (everyone; just followers; just people in current conversation. …)?ii) I have never understand why @names and #tags deplete the 140 characters. It’s all too geeky for geekiness sake. It’s not like it costs twitter more.B) Governance. Again like Google. Allow users to choose level of filter (unfiltered; no abusive words; no sexual references. …)My tuppence worthL

  39. Donna Brewington White

    Given that you seem to be mobile during this tweetstorm, tempted to cross reference it with your Swarm check-ins. But nah.Agree with all your points. After all this time Twitter never grows old.

  40. LE

    Agree. There are cases where coming up with a new way/word for something old is of benefit [1] but this is not one of them. It’s just typical nerd stuff, having things be additionally confusing to a newbie. That’s how they create their secret society and feel special about themselves. Not sure how that convention came about though. You’d think people would be individual enough to not have to copy what others do and think “that is how you do a tweet storm or make a point”. I wouldn’t use it just for that reason alone.The additional even minor friction in syntax just is another hump for a new users to get over that they shouldn’t have to.[1] Like the French [2] or AWS (where it creates friction to leave).[2] In jest, Steve Martin SNL skit “it’s like they have a different word for everything”.

  41. LE

    “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”A pompous obnoxious saying. Who is to judge what someone else gets pleasure from? And what about people that watch sports? Do they have small minds? Or reality tv? Or listen to music?We could take this one step further and deprecate anyone who discusses anything instead of actually “doing” something of value. Where does it end?