Understanding Twitter’s dilemma

It’s high time that business guys understand technology!

Forbes will have their own list, but if someone asks me which company I admire the most, I would invariably answer “Twitter”. But this answer seems to be changing now. In fact, maintaining a socially open site yet get traction when facebook exists, is a tough job. Googlez and Microsofts failed to do what twitter has been doing since actuality. I, in love with the concept of social and open, am personally more in love with twitter because of no rational reason! (Like millions others) Having people love your company is what a founder would die for.

Is twitter going wrong somewhere?

Like anything natural, growth brings you closer to death! But how much closer is the question; and whether should businesses stop growing? The answer lies with what one can do with one’s age. We are growing closer to death and yet we just can’t stop growing! Helpless, isn’t it?

With time, as twitter is growing in age and popularity; it arrived at a cross road where it’s important to take a decision in order to survive.

“How to make money?” Well, that’s very logical when you have employee strength growing with new offices, in Silicon Valley, with expectations and so on! They had two options, as I understand from their blog; a huge debate occurred among employees.

One side wanted to base the business around their realtime API. In this scenario, Twitter would have turned into a realtime cloud API company.
The other side had Google’s advertising model for inspiration, and decided that building their own version of AdWords would be the right way.

What if?

I realized that Twitter, because of their API, actually was a real-time protocol to connect various services. I had debates with my other tech-nerd friends about whether Twitter could be one of the fundamental building blocks of the Internet via their API, connecting to million web addresses and seamless flow of conversations.

And as you already know, the advertising group won that battle, and many of the open API people left the company. While I can understand why the latter side wanted to build an ad-based business, the futurist in me thinks this was a tragic mistake.

The recent disconnect with linkedin is an example of closing an open platform. A sorry state of affairs, where on one hand organizations are opening up; twitter makes an attempt to close itself.

Well, they’ll have to; if they want to make money via ads. They are now into building an advertising/media business, it would then follow that they’ll need to own all of the screen real-estate that users see. The next logical step would be to kill all 3rd-party clients, and lock down the data in order to control the “content”.

Perhaps you think that Twitter today is a really cool and powerful company. Well, it is. But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been much, much more. I believe an API-centric Twitter could have enabled an ecosystem far more powerful than what Facebook is today.


May be I am wrong!

Perhaps you think that the API-centric model would have never have worked, and that if the ad guys wouldn’t have won, Twitter would not be alive today. Well, maybe!

But is the service we think of as Twitter today really the Twitter from a few years ago living up to its full potential? Did all of the man-hours of brilliant engineers, product people and designers, and hundreds of millions of VC dollars really turn into, well, this?

What’s your opinion on this? Do you see those radio/TV like, interrupting ads on your timeline?

Satyam is a Consultant with Infosys Ltd. and editor / founder of marketinomics.com. When he is not talking about Digital Marketing or dreaming of CRM strategies, he can be found on a treadmill. He enjoys travelling, reading and listening to music! Catch up with him on twitter at @xatyam