Twitter to Get Down to Business in 2009, Investors Say
To all of us who wonder how a micro-blogging service is ever going to make money, one of those investors has a singularly nuanced message: "Shut up, stupid face!"
“It’s like the stupidest question in the world: How’s Twitter going to make money?," said Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson, another investor. "It’s like 'How was Google going to make money?'"
And he's right, because of course there's no difference at all between Google and Twitter. One is a search engine that attracts people who are deliberately looking for something -- and often they're looking for something to buy -- while the other is a communication service that has no obvious merchandising or advertising tie-in. Ummm, wait a minute...
If you want to take a moment to make sure that Union Square Ventures' Fred Wilson isn't managing any of your money, go ahead -- I'll wait.
Back? OK. Wilson's confidence, it turns out, isn't based on anything that Twitter is doing. Instead he's looking at what other companies are doing -- or trying to do -- with Twitter.
Wilson said there are plenty of possibilities for building a business on Twitter, not only for themselves but for third party developers, like Twitterific, which are already supporting advertising in their apps. The recently acquired search engine, Summize, might be a good place to start.
“There’s a lot of commercial activity happening today on Twitter, and what Twitter’s going to do is figure out how to harness that commercial activity and make it better and stronger,” said Wilson.
Got that? If you're wondering about Twitter's future, stop. They're thinking about it. Brilliance is sure to ensue.
Of course this is little more than whistling in the wind, which is understandable in the middle of a recession (which until a few days ago looked like it might turn into a depression). Wilson's only notable for being unusually bad at disguising his wind-whistling. And while Twitter's intellectual elite may, in fact, figure out the perfect business plan for a service that depends entirely on being unobtrusive and ultimately not all that engaging, you and I are perfectly justified in wondering how they're going to do it. The fact that Google -- a company founded by different people, in a different market segment, at a different time, and with a different purpose -- managed to find a way to make money does not exactly fill me with confidence for Twitter's future.
Hell, they'll do well if they can just find a way to keep their servers from crashing.