Fun Friday: How To Align A Business Model With A Market Position?

This was a fun twitter exchange yesterday:

I can’t help but think that competing with Facebook and Google in the online advertising market is an uphill battle for Twitter. They have done a great job at building a $2bn annual advertising business that pays the bills and generates positive cash flow. I know the people who have built this ad business and they are world class.

But given that Twitter’s strength is influence and impact, not page views and clicks, is there a business model that compliments the ad business that Twitter should be leaning into?

As always on fun fridays, the action will be in the comments. So let’s get this discussion going.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Muneeb Ali

    Start charging for a premium (ad-free) client. I’d gladly pay for a monthly subscription.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a neat idea.Do you think they could implement a token based business model?

      1. Muneeb Ali

        They probably can. There are multiple models depending on what asset the token is attached to. Startups like tried incentivizing users to get paid directly for producing content that is shared a lot. That’s one model and can be tokenized (instead of a centralized service).Another model can be to attach a token with the network graph i.e., you transfer a token to follow someone (takes care of spam followers) and gives influential people access to this new asset; now they’re financially incentivized to engage their followers and increase them.Just thinking out loud …

    2. JimHirshfield

      Could the 5% of their audience willing to pay support the 95% that are unwilling to pay?

      1. pointsnfigures

        wow, you guys have gone from the 1% to the 5%. What’s next? : )

        1. JimHirshfield

          I was being liberal ๐Ÿ˜‰

      2. Muneeb Ali

        70M monthly active users, converting 5% to paid at say $5 per month is roughly $50M extra revenue per quarter. That’s just baseline with “power users”. Twitter can offer premium clients to businesses that charge a lot more.My main argument is that ads are not the only way to make money. In fact, ads are a “shitty” way to make money; you degrade the user experience and are obsessed with a metric that goes directly against UX.

        1. JimHirshfield

          I agree with you. Good math. Wall St would judge it based on adoption, not revenue, right?

    3. Dan Moore

      That seems worth a try, since they already have most of the pieces available.

    4. Nathan Jeffery

      I’d also happily pay for a Twitter (Pro) account with an ad free experience and more detailed analytical data.

  2. Alex Murphy

    I think of the data Twitter has as the hub of the business. While they enable many other companies to use and leverage that data, they don’t build their own services that sit on top of that data. Think about the potential of a Travel service that powered by the insights from the data that flows through Twitter. Travel companies think about that. How many companies have been funded because they had some unique way to analyze the data that flows out of twitter. Answer = LOTS!Twitter should stop trying to build more advertising. They should reject the idea of charging for their service. Instead, they should build a services layer to their business and get on with building things that matter!Think, “Powered by Twitter Insights” as the subscript line.

    1. seeingfurther

      Absolutely! Our startup is in this space and I often think it’s foolish to have a million sentiment providers. Snap up the best tech in each vertical and call it “Powered by Twitter Insights”. Brilliant.

    2. gkamstra

      I like this a lot. I think this is strongest realistic model for them.

    3. William Mougayar

      Yeah there were some companies that wanted to do that, but Twitter wanted to do it themselves. “Twitter Cutting Ties With All Data Resellers, Including DataSiftTwitter is bringing more of its data licensing business in-house.”…

      1. Alex Murphy

        Licensing data is different than building the actual products. Online data license deals generally get pennies on the dollar from my experience.

          1. Alex Murphy

            Fair points, but past failure does not mean they will always fail, especially when the team changes.The future of Twitter is all about the right team in the right seats on the bus.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Your comments are spot on.Twitter has paid for, built the infrastructure for, and most importantly built the network of their users.Therefore, they own and should use the data.

        2. William Mougayar

          But they choked innovation with data, at the same time.

    4. Twain Twain

      They have no CTO, no Head of Product and no Chief HR Officer to hire the people to deliver such a business.It would take at least 6 months to hire good people AND at least another 6 months to lay the engineering foundations for it.*…*…Also, they sold their Developer platform to Google so they have 0 third-party support from devs (whom they’ve had an up-down relationship with).

      1. Alex Murphy

        Sounds like just the set of ashes to build a kick ass business to me.

        1. Twain Twain

          Twitter has too much ash and not enough Phoenix.

          1. Alex Murphy

            I’d be pretty happy to start out toward a new vision with an engaged audience, cash in the bank, and more data than 99.9999% of all companies. So long as the new leadership comes in with the creative freedom necessary to execute on a long term strategy the business can become amazing!!

          2. PhilipSugar

            I agree. The beauty of Twitter is that you don’t need financing to survive. You make cash. You have cash. You have the data and you now have the time (because you don’t need to get financing) to figure out what to do.

          3. Twain Twain

            See comments above about whether Twitter has time.

          4. PhilipSugar

            You made me go look at their financials. They have free cash flow but there only way is there is something in there called adjustment to net income. I assume that is option expense. Their accounts receivable and payables are really increasing faster than sales and that’s a red flag. Net they have $1.5B in the bank.

          5. Twain Twain

            Part of reason for reducing headcount and cutting the business units they have is an attempt to reduce those payables.$1.5 B is not to be sneezed at but it also limits strategy & acquisition options.

          6. Twain Twain

            Look, I’m hopeful for them BUT I’M A PRAGMATIST.From Bloomberg: “Twitter’s biggest problem being reflected in analysts’ stock targets is the loss of faith among advertisers. Even Twitter executives said advertisers were choosing to spend their money elsewhere as rivals like Facebook and young Snapchat have become more compelling places to pitch their new cars or soda. Restoring advertiser confidence won’t be quick or easy.Noto acknowledged that big advertisers reassess their spending once every six months to a year. Twitter hopes the next time they look at their budgets, the company’s mildly growing audience will seem like a compelling place to market their goods.”Their former COO, Adam Bain, was the one with the special relationship with advertisers:* http://www.businessinsider….So … Twitter does not have the time to be creative in the way you think.

          7. Alex Murphy

            While I appreciate an analyst’s point of view, they are limited in their analysis to the fact set they are presented with. And to be fair, there isn’t much in the fact set that would tell anyone that Twitter’s brightest days are in front of them. But that wasn’t the point of the discussion.The discussion was, given the fact that Twitter has influence and data that can be derived to create insights, what should the business model be?Some say charge the user. Personally, I think that is a path to certain death. The atomic unit in twitter is a tweet. Charge people for tweeting or reading tweets and the business is done.In order to create the desired alignment, there has to be some really deep “rethinking” of where the value is being created and how to leverage that value and more importantly how to extract it.With all due respect, I don’t think an analyst is going to be able to write about that, because it requires a big vision, where the business will need to turn left instead of continue going straight.While you say Twitter does not have the time to be creative, I think the opposite, they don’t have time not to be. Time will tell.

          8. Twain Twain

            If, after 10 years of influence and data, Twitter still doesn’t know what it is, can’t communicate to the market what it is and hasn’t figured out for itself what its business model is and should be … that’s a BIG problem.

    5. Kirsten Lambertsen

      What I been sayin’!

    6. cavepainting

      Didn’t Twitter acquire Gnip, a data /insights business built atop twitter data? I do not know if it has resulted in any significant material revenue.Can you talk about the “lots” of companies built on Twitter data that have actually been successful (not just funded)? Also, from what I understand, their APIs are closed, and they do not let third parties build on their data hose.

      1. jason wright

        A VC might be wondering how to disrupt Twitter. It seems vulnerable to evolving tech.

        1. cavepainting

          That is true… in terms of likelihood of being unbundled, Linkedin is very much at the top. It is almost universally hated by everyone except recruiters. But people still use it as there is no alternative.Twitter has more issues with investors than its creator users who are the key to everything. But if spam, abuse, etc. does not stop, and people continue to get turned off, then the case may get stronger for another player to get in the game. It will still be very hard though given the strength of the brand, and the fact that 200+m people use it today.

    7. Dan Moore

      Isn’t that called gnip?

    8. Bruce Warila

      Totally agree with this. Forget new ad models and NFL games, I want to know what’s happening in my world, or to my brand, without having to scroll through the checkbox ledger interface (about as exciting as a Cheerios box). The pulse of the world does not look like a faced-up ticker tape. Moreover, graphical insights for everyone would telegraph the notion that every tweet gets rolled into the insights…which would mean that every tweet matters…even if you don’t have any followers. This fixes everything wrong with Twitter.

  3. William Mougayar

    So much un-realized potential with Twitter, as we keep hoping, waiting, expecting, debating and wondering: are Twitter best days ahead of them? I’d like to believe so, but the continued optimism is difficult to sustain, given the current performance.Of course we have talked about applying a token-based model of some sorts, but anything different will require boldness. I’m not sure that the current board, management or public market scrutiny will allow Twitter to deviate from their current revenue model. For that to happen, they will need a very strong CEO that can clearly articulate that new vision, and regain the credibility they will need to turn the company around.We (and others) have given Twitter so many ideas already. Yet, when I look at Twitter today, from a user point of view, it is pretty much the same as it was 3 years ago. And business users will tell you that their Ad business product is only marginally better, but not drastically improved.If Twitter is a public good service, then let it get funded like NPR or PBS. I wonder what Twitter would be like if they didn’t have to worry about revenues, but rather just worry about giving users a better product.Maybe the users themselves can think of monetization techniques of their own (let a 1000 flowers bloom), and give Twitter a cut of it. But users need tools for that. Maybe they should re-open their API with no restrictions but charge for usage. That way, only the successful off shoots will be able to sustain development.Repeating myself, Twitter has a LOT of unrealized potential. But do they know it? Do they want it? Break it now while it’s already half-broken, and re-assemble it like a decentralized business because its impact is totally decentralized.Let innovation re-flourish around Twitter’s APIs as it was in its early days. Twitter itself couldn’t do it. Let them put aside a $100 Million fund to give out to developers that have ideas and let them build products. Maybe Twitter itself should not be monetized, but products around it should. And please….build a better Twitter Search, because the current one still sucks.

    1. pointsnfigures

      I would be against it becoming something like NPR or PBS. But, if it’s users wanted to fund it, that’s a different thing.

      1. William Mougayar

        yeah…users funding would be good too.

        1. awaldstein

          canada has long supported the arts through the government as have we here and our world is better for it.everyone who gets support from the government also raises funds from their community.this world order i strongly support.

          1. William Mougayar

            I’m in support of gov funding IF (big IF) it produces top quality programs and outcomes, but not in support of it if they are funding mediocre organizations. i’m not passing judgement on NPR or PBS. I watch PBS occasionally and find the level of their programming to be more intellectually stimulating than the other networks. In Canada, CBC is gov funded and they are just OK. not killing it. I like the BBC though. their programming is pretty good.

    2. Joshua Powe

      I think the challenge with the ‘big data’ monetization approach is that it often seems pie in the sky. Sounds great at first, because after all, what kind of corporate decision-maker wouldn’t want access to mission-critical real-time data in theory. However, putting real teeth to this is challenging for a number of reasons. First, how do you convince people that this is specifically relevant to their job function at scale? Second, how do you provide a productized service with recurring revenue and high renewals? In other words, when you are looking at huge data sets, the numbers don’t “move” very much because N counts are already so high, which tends to reduce the need for a service-based model, like a newsfeed where the headline is always the same. Twitter could prove the value of the data by creating company-specific subscription-driven reports using a freemium model, they would be able to demonstrate the power of their big data to enterprise customers and ultimately, charge a premium, without having to sell the concept upfront. Basically, come up with free Twitter powered insights for every company in every relevant industry and then sell additional analytics on top of that.

      1. Twain Twain

        Bingo, exactly THIS: “In other words, when you are looking at huge data sets, the numbers don’t “move” very much because N counts are already so high, which tends to reduce the need for a service-based model.”@fredwilson:disqus @wmoug:disqus — Twitter is on an uphill battle in the advertising piece because:(1.) Google and FB have more N quanta about the user than Twitter.(2.) Google and FB have better QUALIA about users than Twitter, in particular the real identity piece.Twitter has taken far too long to weed out fake identities and spambots and their content noise.(3.) Google and FB have better AI for spam filtering, anti-trolling, curation, content serving, search and other tools than Twitter.(4.) Google and FB both own ad exchanges (Double Click and FB Atlas — and even FB Atlas struggled against the giant that is Google) and strong developer ecosystems that feed back N quanta and some qualia to their systems.What can Jack+co do against Google and FB’s advertising power? Not much unless they had the models, the data, the AI algorithms, the user base and the developer ecosystem to change the entire advertising industry which is currently about N quanta and Google’s ability to probabilistically correlate those Ns faster than everyone else with their D-Wave Quantum servers.

        1. William Mougayar

          Twitter’s user data is not very good to start with. That’s an issue for producing effective advertising products. They rely on mixing it up w 3rd party data.

          1. Twain Twain

            Yes, that was an eye-opener for me when their Analytics team shared their ad funnel metrics at a USF data science talk last year.They know less about their users than it’s assumed. This is a Product issue to be solved before any Machine Learning is applied.

        2. Dan Moore

          Did I misread Fred’s post, or did he agree with you? If advertising growth is off the table, what is next? What leverages Twitter’s strengths. What battlefield can they choose that they will naturally win on? (I do not have any great ideas, that’s why I am reading the comments ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    3. awaldstein

      You can’t match model to market unless you are clear on who you are and your core value.

    4. LE

      We (and others) have given Twitter so many ideas already. Yet, when I look at Twitter today, from a user point of view, it is pretty much the same as it was 3 years ago. And business users will tell you that their Ad business product is only marginally better, but not drastically improved.This is an example of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’.Startups (who make fun of legacy companies) are good at executing at the low hanging fruit of opportunity. That’s the easy part of business. Decent people + good idea + right timing + oversight from adults + capital = big idea.But they are average or even below average at re-inventing themselves in the face of adversity or failing at their original purpose.An example of legacy companies that have managed to segue to new and better places could be MSFT or GE. At Twitter though we have the ‘so called’ Jack Dorsey who splits his time between two companies which defies logic. And the rest of the organization circles around that brain thinking the magic will once again work. And ignoring that the only reason that there was magic was because the idea in the first place was valuable enough to put twitter on the map. Not because there was some Edison like genius that could spin out multiple great ideas.How to ‘solve’ twitter’s problems? Acquire and get into different businesses. Just use twitter as the business that is the foundation that allows you to be taken a bit more seriously as an acquiring company because of their fame.

      1. jason wright

        Does Twitter have any competition? If it did it would either be much better than it is or be losing users.

        1. Dan Moore

          Facebook seems like competition enough, no?

    5. Twain Twain

      They sold their Developer platform so devs are not coming to Twitter’s rescue any day soon:*

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I work in a network of hundreds of developers and I haven’t seen anyone commenting negatively on the sale of Fabric.I think developers look fairly favorably upon Twitter these days. They’ve slowly but surely migrated back toward openness in their API, have great documentation, and have become easier to work with than Facebook or Instagram. It’s currently the *only* social network of out of the three (as well as Pinterest) that doesn’t require an approval in order to move into production mode. Huge hassle. Twitter: no hassle.I build multiple projects all day that integrate with all the social networks. Twitter is by far a favorite with devs for the reasons I’ve just recited ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Twain Twain

          Jack should hire you as a Developer Advocate!It’s good to know their API’s better, cheers.

        2. Twain Twain

          Investors seem to feel differently about the sale of Fabric.”And now it has dumped the only thing which, I thought, made the company worth buying in the first place: its Fabric development team, which Alphabet just took for an undisclosed price.”*

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I whole heartedly admit to being blissfully ignorant of the ways and mindset of Wall Street ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. LE

    Twitter’s influence for me (and potential) is in customer service.Last year I used it to very easily get in contact with the right person at a car manufacturer when I was unhappy with one of their dealers.The result was a DM asking for my email so they could help. The correct individual at their US Headquarters contacted me (worked for a VP) resulting in $5000 credit [1] [2] . So sure it wasn’t “use twitter get 5k”. But by using twitter I quickly got the attention of a social media person who immediately put me in contact with the right individual. The next use was for a complaint about a meal at a small chain restaurant. Got the chef at the restaurant to write to me to apologizing and he immediately offered some credits for the bad meal. Much easier than having to write to customer service and be ignored.I further see the potential in the use of bots where someone can tweet to either a company or an entity and get either attention or further information that they need to communicate with someone who can solve their problem. So Twitter can sandwich themselves in and charge for doing many of the things that are entirely free (I know that’s obvious..).[1] After some negotiation but w/o twitter it would have been much harder to get to someone with enough decision making power to make it worth my time and effort.[2] Quite honestly that I didn’t deserve for what I was complaining about.

    1. William Mougayar

      Good story. I hardly get any recognition being the Foursquare/Swarm Mayor of a few establishments. It’s like ho-hum .

    2. Vasudev Ram

      Ah customer service. Since you’ve been in business for long, do you know about the ant letter?

      1. LE

        I never heard of ‘ant letter’ what is that?

        1. Vasudev Ram

          Think I read it in Reader’s Digest or some other mag – in the joke section – long ago.It goes like this:A customer who has bought a product from some company has some trouble with it due to ants affecting it in some way. (What exact way, is not important for the purpose of this story.) He writes a complaint to the company about it. He gets back a long and polite letter saying how sorry they are, how much they focus on quality in production, what good raw material they use for products, etc. etc. – really long and concerned and polite, apologizing a lot for the issue, etc. He is happy that they acknowledge the problem and thinks they will at least not let this happen in future. (Nothing really happens to fix the issue.)Meanwhile, at the company, they get another complaint letter from another customer.The manager says: Send them the ant letter.

          1. LE

            Ok got it. One technique that I have noticed is the following:You are pissed off with ‘a head of steam’ so you call a company and make a very loud complaint.They immediately make you think a) you are right b) they apologize and c) that they are going to do something for you.But nothing ever happens. When (and if) you follow up so much time has passed that you don’t even care anymore to fight the battle. Which is the reason for ‘a’ and ‘b’. And it seems to work.

          2. Vasudev Ram

            Yes, seen that happen a lot too. More common in India, even among online help desk personnel. Lots of assurances, little else.

  5. Rick_Robinson

    Are people here being reimbursed with stock for their business ideas, if those ideas are implemented?

    1. fredwilson


    2. jason wright

      That would be Creative Consult.

    3. Alex Murphy

      If a good idea is surfaced, and it takes off, then we all get to have Twitter going forward. Twitter is a public good, it needs to make money, we should support it.

    4. onowahoo

      There’s no market for good ideas, fortunately or unfortunately.

    5. Richard Carlow

      Do you know anyone building a business that makes this happen in any space?

  6. Ananth Vyas Bhimavarapu

    Twitter should turn itself into a not-for-profit like Wikipedia.

    1. Drew Meyers

      too many investors already

  7. Justin Soffer

    Time to cut a deal with the Facebook Audience Network? Would be equivalent to Yahoo! search deals with Google/Bing. Then focus 100% on product improvements to boost MAUs and in-house selling of brand and video ads.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Outsource your revenue model? How’d that work out for Yahoo?

  8. Josh Rutstein

    I wonder if Twitter could build a marketplace around results. For example, someone requests a goal of getting “3000 new emails” or “help me increase my NPS 10 points” and then marketers bid on what they think it would take to achieve that goal. Then you could select the marketer based on reputation, past performance, etc and they would conduct that campaign by essentially taking over your account. They have the power to tweet, search, like, retweet, etc. You pay when they hit the goal or an ending timeline

    1. LE

      Part of the key to re-inventing a company would be to try and do 100 different ideas (test them) in a small way to see if they had potential to be a larger idea that produced revenue. Such as your idea. In business many new revenue sources develop as a result of a small idea that seems to have legs so you invest more time and effort into it. You don’t know which of the ideas is good until you test it and hence you need to have things that people are willing to try and stop thinking that you will sit in a board room and greenlight the one right idea good things will follow. (Note also how Hollywood works and for that matter VC firms). Spread the risk around multiple things not all into one big reinvention basket.Come from a place of ‘yes’ and give it a chance rather than ‘that would never work and here is why’.

  9. Jackie

    The 90s was about ad impressions.The 00s was about ad clicks.The 10s about converting customers to actual online purchase.Each of the models above progressive generate higher per ad fees.If Twitter does in fact has so much influence, ad impression and ad clicks shouldn’t matter. Because advertisers pay the most for converting ad into actual online purchases.Twitter should monetize that converting their audience into actual online sales. Be it sales of CPG products, or digital goods, etc.

    1. onowahoo

      Can’t tell if this is in jest or not.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Not in jest, despite my reputation

        1. Girish Mehta

          Its jest your reputation Jim..

          1. onowahoo

            Nailed it

          2. kidmercury

            an excellent pun flipped on the pun master himself. well done! ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Boom. Elegant solution and much like what I’m saying.

  10. Tom Labus

    K Street and Wall Street influence.

  11. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:The gatekeepers don’t know what they don’t know. The solutions they are hired to provide are being offered for free.No other way to explain it.TWTR companies stock position will need to be ran into the ground before the egos accept either their firing or quitting.An Activist Investor could gut the swamp but will also hurt the core strength of the business model.This is painful to watch.Jack Dorsey is brilliant. (No one has the credibility, backbone, courage, dauntlessness, effrontery, forcefulness, fortitude, grit, heart and intestinal fortitude to tell Jack Dorsey to step down for a second time)Just can imagine the internal daily conversations between those gatekeepers and C-Suite occupants. Damn we are so relevant they just don’t get how awesome TWTR is and how many users we have. They all are clueless. TWTR is cemented in making historical events.That being said it has to be co-founders ego preventing the enviable. Name the few successful CEO ‘s who can run two Billion dollar real money (not valuation) companies? Not many.What in the world are Board of Directors for? Can’t tell….Ironic TWTR has been the sauce for POTUS.DISCLOSURE: NO EQUITY POSITION IN TWTR

  12. pointsnfigures

    Speed is the big advantage of Twitter-and unfiltered communication. Maybe charge news organizations to be faster similar to futures exchanges selling out the top step to HFT firms for co-location.

  13. DP

    How many Twitter addicts like myself rarely, if ever, use the Twitter app or website? I paid $5 for an ad-free version of Echofon 5+ years ago and never looked back. I’m not sure how Twitter expects to get revenue from me if I don’t directly use their products. I’ve periodically gone back to the Twitter app but find it clunky and annoying. Don’t get me started on the website. With all of the influence and data they possess, I want them to be successful (I’m a stock holder) but I do wonder how they’re going to accomplish it. Acquiring live media rights is intriguing but they need more integrations with desktop and TV apps imo.

  14. LaVonne Reimer

    Crazy idea #1, ask the community, i.e., crowdsource biz model. Would be interesting to track how the citizen impact and influence crowd compares to the customer impact and influence crowd. Second thought where I really should defer to my esteemed colleague and adtech expert Doc Searls, isn’t the ad rev business model itself broken? Is anyone really all that happy with points and clicks as the driver? Maybe Twitter re-imagines the online ad biz model.

      1. LaVonne Reimer

        Great minds . . .

  15. LIAD

    2009: Value of Twitter is power of passed links –> monetise link distribution via ads2017: Value of Twitter is power of passed insight –> monetise insight discovery via subs.

  16. Jason Burns

    Twitter is monetizing the wrong end of the relationship. The value of nurturing and engaging an audience is insanely valuable and they are giving it away. Seems to me that having more than a certain # of followers should be a paid account to reach everyone.

    1. Josh Rutstein

      That’s a great idea. In a sense, copy Facebook (oh the irony). If you gather your own followers organically, you can target them all for free. But if you use a search or marketing plan effort to gather, you have to pay to target them with each tweet, sort of a premium model. I like it

      1. Drew Meyers

        The more they copy facebook, the more irrelevant they become.

  17. Sebastiรกn Aldasoro

    I think a good business for them would be to do high quality market research in different verticals, including politics.

  18. Taku Harada

    I often feel the urge to throw a quarter or two at a meaningful/impactful tweet (funny, moving, etc), but not anything above a dollar. If this could be done by giving the tweeter a Twitter Coin, that would be great. I can buy these coins in bulk or exchange what I already have into real $$. Meanwhile on the side, brands could run campaigns where I can earn Twitter Coins (“enter sweepstakes and earn XX Twitter Coins”). So yes, a Twitter-specific cryptocurrency would be cool.

    1. Dan Moore

      Tweetip? I know something similar works with github not sure about the revenue numbers.

      1. Drew Meyers

        Github has my credit card already (since I have a business account). Twitter doesn’t.What’s going to cause someone to pull out their credit card in the first place?

        1. Dan Moore

          Maybe the ad free client? Maybe you partner with an existing payment processor like apple pay or Google wallet? Maybe advertising? Twitter could also 10 freed ads to everyone who signed up with a credit card (it is not like they don’t have near infinite ad inventory).

  19. Salt Shaker

    Not sure TWTR can make it as a standalone. To date they haven’t proven to be able to monetize their user base to sustainable, healthy levels of profitability. They need to be rolled up into a company that can better monetize what they offer as part of a larger, more integrated sales prop. With a $13B market cap the pool of potential suitors is not particularly large. They do need to be bought though.

    1. awaldstein

      i think they really must find a model themselves.and i think that means a leader with a vision.can’t honestly imagine them finding it under someone else. they may well find a buyer but twitter as it adds value to our lives will my gut says simply go away.

      1. Salt Shaker

        You may be right. Brands, like food, w/ out reasonable preservation can easily go stale. TWTR feels pretty stale, lacking any semblance of inertia, sans the topical spin our Pres contributes daily. It reminds me of My Space. Has a reasonable acquisition window come and gone for them? Perhaps. But their rutterless lack of direction and clarity of vision certainly isn’t gonna engender confidence from potential suitors.

        1. awaldstein

          i want them to win. I want them to find a leader. i think its not too late. but gonna be interesting to find someone who can do this in the face of it being a public stock.

  20. gbrandonthomas

    Twitter is “the conversation” today. No other medium holds such a distinct pulse of what is being discussed and by whom. Facebook digitizes your social network, and to a (very) limited success broadens it. Google marries offline intent with online information. Twitter has created something new that is much less tethered to offline behavior. This untethering is at times scary, as traditional norms of decency and respect are often lost.Twitter’s opportunity is to connect this digital conversation to real discussions – connect the offline with the online. It’s more than hastags – what if Twitter used their data to create new offline conversations? What bar wouldn’t pay to hold the #trending conversation on a Tuesday evening? What conferences could be produced using Twitter data? What other offline interactions could be produced? How would users adapt / enjoy / evolve if their Twitter activity led to real, diverse offline experiences?

    1. Drew Meyers

      “what if Twitter used their data to create new offline conversations”Yup. That.

  21. jason wright

    Migrate to a blockchain with sidechain architecture.

  22. Guy Hargreaves

    In the spirit of tongue in cheek fun Friday there must be some way to capture the heat emanating from the current raging tweetstorms and brutal political hits barreling across the platform and put it into the grid?

  23. Dan Epstein

    I would rather pay for Twitter as a service. Would certainly pay less than $10/month. Might pay $10.Charging might also help with verification/spam/abuse.

  24. Steve Goldstein

    If they opened up the platform there are many products and services that could be built on top – bots, gambling (where legal), games, alerting, financial markets, sports, better surveys and polls…I use Twitter now the same way I used it when it started – it’s criminal.

  25. Eric Satz

    i do think there’s a subscription model in there somewhere, but first you have to answer who derives the greatest value from the platform: the content consumers or the content creators/influencers? if the consumers then maybe you pay a premium for access to certain creators/influencers. if the creators/influencers, well, then you’ve got more questions to answer.

    1. awaldstein

      i fear it is the later.

    2. Drew Meyers

      “who derives the greatest value from the platform: the content consumers or the content creators/influencers”IMHO, it’s most certainly not consumers. If it were, Twitter wouldn’t be struggling.

      1. Eric Satz

        i think it really depends on the consumer demographics, specifically age. if you told my son he had to pay some small monthly number he’d say ok without thinking. it’s how he gets alerted to all the news he cares about across subjects: politics, sports, comedy, etc. for me, on the other hand, i’ll get hit with a lot of the same stuff on fb. regardless, i do think they need to figure out how to monetize the content generators.

  26. Kevin Hill

    The influence of twitter comes from it’s verbosity and the ability for anyone to say something to the world. This means a pay-for-access model won’t work.The value of twitter comes from finding information you care about in the firehose of information. This means pay-for-curation could work just fine. I’ve never heard a good reason why this couldn’t work on a consumer level.You could also take all of the high-noise-low-info tweets and aggregate them into high-info insights. This is similar to what Alex Murphy said. Make this the B2B side of the business.

    1. Drew Meyers

      What is the curated product result? What do I get as a user?

      1. Kevin Hill

        Imagine a premium ‘VC news’ feed. All the latest VC news with little noise. No tweets about #thebachelor. Would you pay $1/mo for that?

        1. Drew Meyers

          I wouldn’t personally pay for a curated vc news feed, because I don’t really care about funding news (except with companies exactly in the space I’m in). Relationships are worthwhile. I have a “VC” list on Twitter already, but part of the value in that is that it’s often VCs talking about non VC stuff..That said, I’m hugely bullish on curation. I think it’s the future of the entire internet, there’s simply too much noise (aka crap) otherwise.Been thinking about it since 2012 — http://www.drewmeyersinsigh…It’s why I’m consulting for, and building Horizon.

  27. jason wright

    Aren’t centralised data platforms facing oblivion?

  28. tnic99

    If we all agree that “influence and impact” are Twitter’s unique edge then…Deep learning + Twitter Realtime Data = Unprecedented InsightsI can’t think of a single industry sector that wouldn’t benefit from and be willing to pay for such insights on what’s happening in the world today.

  29. Pete Griffiths

    I have long been unconvinced by Twitter. I get its obvious appeal – its immediacy – but have never been able to throw off my concerns and those concerns are about strategy and the failure of the management team of address strategic issues.I think Twitter has 2 different but related issues.a) user growth – it’s too slow for a ‘global’ player. Facebook’s user base dwarfs Twitter’s. This has to be something to do with the user experience, the value proposition. I don’t know how to fix it or even if it can be fixed but clearly what they’re doing isn’t working.b) monetization – I like Alex Murphy’s point about the value of data. ironically, this has longstanding roots for Twitter and doesn’t contradict building an advertising business. The idea was that whereas Facebook was building the social graph Twitter would own the interest graph. Facebook’s thinking was that the social graph would unlock value because the recommendation of friends and trusted others would be critical but in fact it turned out that such recommendations weren’t particularly valuable and that the value in FB was the interest graph they learned to unlock from their huge data stream. In terms of advertising dollars FB massively outweighs Twitter in terms of exploiting the interest graph so they lost that battle. (they did however innovate with native ads) So the nub of Alex’s point, if he is correct about abandoning advertising as the primary revenue stream, is how else can Twitter exploit their interest graph data? And if Twitter isn’t dramatically successful in growing (see point a above) is such exploitation lucrative at Twitter rather than FB scale?Fred is an insider at Twitter and I’m not. I have no valuable insights into their team. But I’m not impressed by their execution. They have, imho, been struggling strategically for way too long. The sad truth is that not all companies succeed in solving their strategic problems and that sometimes there is no such solution. Some such companies flatter to deceive. I can’t throw off the nasty suspicion that Twitter is such a company. I doubt it will succeed by itself. I suspect its value will drop enough for it to be an attractive acquisition target for a company that can use its platform synergistically and that it will be acquired.

  30. LE

    Small, but one thing twitter could do is encourage (not discourage) a market in buying and selling twitter handles used or unused.Twitter handling and making a profit from the transaction. It’s a pain and a great deal of work typically to buy an existing handle (so the friction is there) although it can be done. Plenty of good handles (or handles with value to someone else) sitting there and not being used. No reason for that. I get requests for handles frequently. This would encourage and supplement the use of twitter and there is nothing wrong with doing it. Period. Assuming reasonable safeguards are in place so there are no hogs only maybe pigs. Not allowing it is just wrapped up in some old school legacy thinking that somehow believes it’s better to not have profit in this particular area or that it encourages bad behavior.

  31. Richard

    It’s all about the personal stream. Until the individual signal to noise ratio IN THE FIRST 30 seconds improves, Twitter will grow older and slower.

  32. Marissa_NYx

    So its core purpose and competency is microbloggingFrom microblogging to micro insights.Microinsights = the world’s influence and interest based CRM These CRM services would be value added services to companies sales and marketing operations. For example, twitter is the main platform used by educators to share insights and exchange ideas, teachers of a similar interest meet at an appointed time using an appointed hashtag to discuss a specific topic and help each other out. If these conversations could be searched and mined for insights and then these are sold to help companies market to these teachers. In this example, say a company may want to know: who is the trending influencer on [math standard x] in state [y] and what problems do they want solved and/or what is working or not working. If you have these insights from personal interactions, they may live in your company’s CRM and would be considered valuable information. But Twitter being the world’s CRM can search for these insights from within its own platform and on others. So there. Start selling data insights to folks who need it, from enterprises, government, all the way to consumers. Monetise through a micro payment formula based on degrees of association and surge of interest. Figure out a model to do this. insights that are less valuable from a single source or key words would be charged for less than insights which are very valuable that are derived from multiple sources, associations and inferences. An inference based pricing model would be fascinating. An extension to this would be for twitter to offer insights back to the user eg. in the example above, to teachers seeking some idea of who can provide solutions to the problems being discussed. It would be for the twitter user to turn on “Insights” to search for other influencers who have shared their opinion on the same topic, and for companies whose solutions align to the needs in the twitter conversations. Its a world where we turn the vast repositories of data and conversation into insights which can be consumed and turned into useful nuggets of knowledge which serves needs of a customer.

    1. Drew Meyers

      “Twitter being the world’s CRM”That would require the whole world to actually use Twitter.

  33. B. Llewellyn Shepard

    If apple pay can exist, why can’t twitter pay?Use case One:1 – I’m a makeup company launching a new lip gloss2 – I want to target, say, every woman 25-35 who follows Sephora, and who lives within 10 miles of Soho.3 – I show this demo an ad saying “click here to get a sample for $1.99, shipping and handling included”4 – A recipient clicks, and because of some how-have-they-not-already-integrated-with-square?-technology, pays for and then gets in the mail, her sample.Use case Two:1 – I’m the Washington Post.2 – I show an ad to everyone who A) follows the NY Times and B) at least one NYtimes reporter.3 – I show an ad saying “for the discerning customer, 50% your first month of the Washington Post.4 – A recipient clicks, and because of some how-have-they-not-already-integrated-with-square?-technology, pays for and then gets 1 month of the Washington Post delivered.It’s so simple. Total fall-down.

  34. Joe Lazarus

    Sort of a strange idea: VIP Follow. Highly influential users offer some sort of VIP option to their followers. Followers pay a small subscription fee (set by the influencer) to become a particular influencer’s VIP follower. Subscription revenue is split between Twitter and the influencer. Influencers have the options to share tweets just with VIP followers or everyone, they can prioritize @relies by VIP status, and a few other VIP-specific features.A few examples of use: Fred gives early access to blog posts to VIPs, invites them to in-person events, and donates his revenue to charity. Politicians send particular messages just to VIPs, bypassing the haters. Brands distribute special offers, content and deals to VIPs.Pay for better access to the people who influence you.

    1. Dan Moore

      Ah kind of like Patreon? Seems like a cool idea.

  35. Dorian Benkoil

    I’ve often said and still believe that Twitter has a powerful measure of sentiment (and zeitgeist) that can be focussed broadly or narrowly (by geography, an event, news happening, particular gender, a celebrity, etc.) Cross that with the network map of the individual and you can give a tremendously powerful read to those who would pay for the intelligence. Essentially, a DMP on steroids. Mix in NLP and semantic analysis with AI, and you could construct some powerful opportunities. Politicians and brand marketers to start, then product developers and many others.

  36. Kuta

    I see lots embeded tweet everywhere (including here, at the top). (un)fortunately twitter do not use it as revenue stream, choke it with ads in between.I agree with subscription business model for ads-free users, and twitter can encourage this high influence individuals with revenue sharing to tweet more often! (rather than waiting some company to pay them as a buzzer).Have you ever heard anyone success story get paid from twitter no matter how high their influences?Daily users are their main strength, encourage them more, make them as partners, not just as fuel for “Twitter Insight” or whatever it’s called if twitter go there as their next target.*excuse my english, not my primary lang ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Joe Rupnow

    I told my wife earlier today that I was going to share my thoughts on TWTR with you after seeing their results yesterday morning. And just saw this post requesting the feedback!Twitter has the news and gives it away for free. They should be creating content (like NFLX) to draw in users. Create a news channel. Be the first real online TV channel. Give non-users a reason to sign up.

  38. Vartika Manasvi

    As rightly said twitterโ€™s strength is influence and impact ad monetization was a wrong model. Twitter started as a status message service that got converted into microblogging which lead them to publishers, advertisers. Impact and influence can be monetized by impact and influence within the community by the surroundings, and by local businesses. Use Case – “I am thinking to buy abc book, any discounts” abc book is a keyword that in real-time addresses this need by giving discount to the user. Lead generation for businesses should be the primary model. We are attempting to disrupt this at IMeYou, a location first community platform for Instant me to you connect (Foursquare marries twitter). It’s in private closed beta currently.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  39. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I like a lot of ideas here. My little addition to the mix:One thing I see every day is that people who use Twitter also use Patreon, GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Creatives and activists (natural allies) love Twitter โ€” the movers and shakers of the world.Twitter is the platform of social and cultural change.As I’ve said before, I think they should acquire Patreon (or build their own, better version) and other crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, etc. platforms and integrate them all. Build the one social change platform to rule them all. Make it easy to sign a petition right through Twitter, to make a donation, to sign up as monthly subscriber. All those services are the money makers, while Twitter remains free and *ad-free*.It also might not be a bad idea at all to see how they could lead in the decentralization movement. Decentralize Twitter. I think Twitter’s challenge and opportunity is to stay on the bleeding edge of social change as it’s powered by technology โ€” where ever and however that happens. They could offer an alternative to the controversial Signal app, that’s decentralized. When I listen to Dorsey talk, he always convinces me he’s the right guy to execute on that mission. But I think some bold moves are in order, soon.Watching them sell Fabric was… intriguing. It’s either great news, or bad news.

  40. budrow

    can vitriol be monetized? TWTR seems best a bifurcated platform of real and ANON responding only to current events and particular bias of left or right.

  41. Raj

    I would pay Twitter $10 a month to be a “Classpass for Content.”

  42. Kaylock Yam

    Thanks Fred. Your comment and one recently by @naval (“Twitter is the only social network that connects people over ideas rather than over pre-existing relationships.”) really summarize the platform well, I think.The exchanges here have already been fascinating. On a separate, but related note: has anyone here participated in Twitter user research (see:… I got an email in Jan. sent to users in NYC, but didn’t get selected to be interviewed. Wonder what their takeaways are?

  43. jason wright

    All these platforms are tediously the same. They make unpaid worker bots out of all of us. We create the raw material and they own it and then sell it back to us for their private profit.Time for a new model, where we share in the profits of our creation.

  44. cavepainting

    First, Twitter is never going to win investors’ hearts and minds by aspiring to be a social network that is optimizing for # of ad slots in the newsfeed. It will always be compared unfavorably to facebook, and it is not really that kind of a business any way.To me, Twitter is a media company where news and reactions break out in real time. Unlike a traditional media company that invests in journalism and investigative capabilities to report, Twitter is an aggregator of content from a diversity of sources.Its primary customers fall in three buckets.a) celebrities who want to publish with minimal effort , b) media companies like newspapers, broadcasters, etc. who use it as another platform to reach their audience and c) consumers who want to see what’s happening now on the things they care about.Some possibilities for new products and business Models aligned with a), b) and c).- Premium features for power users with >10k users; such as ability to analyze and segment followers, sophisticated direct messaging capabilities, track new follows and un-follows, ability to set controls on spam and abuse, etc.- Nuzzel like newsletter for a monthly paid subscription- Allow media houses and content creators to publish professional short form video content on the platform. At scale, this will allow for Twitter to sell premium advertising against this inventory.-Live broadcasting of sports and political events including PPV

    1. Drew Meyers

      “c) consumers who want to see what’s happening now on the things they care about.”I really really hope they don’t convince more people this is a good use of their time. If more people sat around and watched cnn/foxnews all day, would their lives be better? Would they be happier? There is so so little happening NOW that someone should pay attention to. More people spending more of their time consuming content that doesn’t matter doesn’t seem like a good societal trend to me.

      1. cavepainting

        I do agree with you, but this is human nature at an elemental level. People are hungry to be informed and entertained and those who find a way to do it better will always have more monetization options. I do believe it should be based on seeking the truth ( not fake news) but that may be a different topic for discussion.

  45. Tom Labus

    They should go private. It would take the Q pressure off and maybe they find a couple of non advertising routes to grow. Their value has yet to be unlocked and it’s not in ads.

  46. Lynn Kasel

    Simple statement. Twitter has to meet the needs of Tweeters, Followers and Shareholders and needs a clear roadmap for each. This post is mostly about Tweeters.A while ago Fred wrote “the… mobile gold rush has ended. The top 6 mobile apps and 8 of the top 9 are owned by Facebook and Google…”.Tweeters may feel that their gold rush has ended. They have to believe that they can build followers if they are to get more engaged. Twitter can do more to help and should demonstrate this.As to monetization, Google has spent billions searching for new ways to monetize content. I don’t think that they (or anyone else) has found a better way than ad revenue.

  47. Gregory Magarshak

    Why not allow an app ecosystem on top and require them to use Twitter’s virtual currency at 30% like Facebook/Apple? Embrace developers again!

  48. Gabriela Tejada

    HELLO MY FELLOW ENTREPRENEUERSWe are team Erudite, a group of five students from Hult International Business School. We would appreciate if you could take the time to answer a short survey providing information about your company.…Kind regards,Team Erudite.

  49. AG LR

    Did not see any kind of pivot from Twitter so far. Which first, prompts me to consider the company is not missing a business model, but guts/managers. Second, with the type of data it “trends”, Twitter might probably have become some kind of investor.

  50. Krishnan Karunganni

    With data available on Twitter and its analysis could help organizations (service providers, Products, and individuals who are brands understand their relationship strength with their core consumer segment. This could help understand trends that indicate a possible strengthening or weakening of relationships that matter and impact growth of organizations and popularity of individuals who are brands.

  51. Tiago Franco

    Call me a simple man, but if I was leading that ship, I would do a MARS group exercise with what is left from their team to redefine their Vision and Mission. The business model would easily come from there and the team would be highly motivated to deliver it, as the solution would come from within.There is plenty of cash in the back and that would give enough runtime to fix things out this way (prob a year would be enough).