Sunday, January 25, 2009

How would you spend $20M?

As you may have seen this weekend on Techcrunch, or Read Write Web, Twitter is preparing to raise another round of capital, probably at least $20M. Based on the funding, its valuation is now $250M. Not too shabby in a weak economy! Techcrunch is reporting that the new investor is Institutional Venture Partners. Jeremiah Owyang performed a quick analysis and determined that each active Twitter user is valued at $73.52. As Lidija Davis states on Read Write Web, the only way VCs would fund Twitter in our current economic climate would be if they could see a clear and detailed business plan that solidifies its revenue model. Hopefully, we will get to see that revenue model pretty soon! Louis Gray even has competing posts, Twitter is worth a lot more than $250M and There is no Way Twitter is worth $250M. Talk about playing both sides!

Rather than speculating on the revenue model, I’d rather recommend some missing functions and other investments that Twitter desperately needs. My fantasy baseball friend, Don Reisinger, wrote last week in his CNET column, 5 Twitter Improvements we’re still waiting for:

  • Groups – allow likeminded communities to form on Twitter
  • Tweet Filter – Block specific types of tweets like those from
  • Unfollow Notice – Daily Qwitter type stats
  • Profile Stats- Data around your Twitter page
  • 200 characters – Why limit ourselves to the SMS limitations

Andy Brudtkuhl went even further and wrote, 11 Twitter Analytics Features I Want:

  1. Page Views - raw page view numbers for my profile
  2. Inbound Links - who is linking to my profile and how many are there
  3. Referrals - followers acquired from other users’ tweets
  4. Bounce Rate - how many people get to my profile and leave, and how long did they stick around
  5. GeoTargeting - where are people viewing my profile from
  6. Click Tracking - how many people click on links I share? (TweetBurner)
  7. Re-Tweet Tracking - how many retweets am I getting and who is doing it
  8. Search Traffic - how many people arrive to my profile via Twitter Search or Google Search and from what keywords
  9. Reports - Example: bounce rate vs new follower ratio
  10. Trending Followers - like twittercounter, only baked in
  11. Unfollowersqwitter

Louis Gray has called for Twitter to implement OAuth, the open protocol that allows for secure API authorization, as a way to mitigate some of the recent security issues in the ecosystem due to users having to enter their password on third party sites.

Personally, I think they are all great ideas. Who can’t agree with improving security and making it more difficult for spammers? If I had to suggest a few other things it would be:

  • Integration of real search into Twitter instead of the current Find people
  • An address book so I could readily and easily find my Twitter friends, especially when travelling so I know who to ask about a local tweet-up.
  • A functional Suggested Users so I could see who we follow in common (kind of like Facebook’s People you may know).
  • Ability to have Plurk like threaded conversations.

How do you think Twitter should spend the new investment? What features would you like to see Twitter add? Which deficiencies must be fixed for you? What new features would really enhance the overall experience?


Ari Herzog said...

I can't think at this hour but I have one suggestion that few people mention: the ability to keyword search direct messages.

Or, at least enabling an option to automatically send a DM to my email inbox.

Whichever is cheaper and easier to implement.

If public tweets can be searched and metricized, at least allow something for DMs.

Warren said...

Ari, there is a lot of opportunity to better manage DMs. I would like to be able to delete old ones, for example. Stats on DMs would also be great, similar to the data that tweetstats provides.

McLaughlin said...

people often ask about 200+ characters and why we are limited to the SMS guidelines.

If you DM the limits are raised to 200+ per DM and the email that the person you DM received can hold 919 characters.

140 is for the masses.

Andy Brudtkuhl said...

Great recap of the Twitter news. As you know - I'd love to see them spend the money on analytics features.

Other features I would like to see are groups and threaded conversations. Check out this thread on Microblink -

Evan said...

API key.

The end.

Warren said...

@Evan, if only it were that easy. Maybe it will be with $20M. I would love to see the API strengthened so companies could send information like airline flight status through Twitter.

andre said...

Twitter is very interesting and I consider it an excellent communications tool. This said, as someone who has been involved in social media since early iterations (since approx 1999) I could think of many more social media platforms I would spend $20m in. The issue with twitter is that it will prove to be like the telephone. It is neat because you can basically monitor gazillions of conversations, but it is tremendously hard to market in twitter and particularly market effectively. You have to have an extremely quality product or service otherwise there are simply too many variables and your audience can actually hurt your marketing efforts. In the growing years social media will grow tremendously. I suspect there will be many more effective social media platforms to market in, many which are also farther along.

Warren Whitlock said...

Twitter core value comes from the simple system that works.

Before they add all the bells and whistles, I'd hope they stay the course.. making sure what they have works as it goes through very rapid growth this year.

The valuation is what it is. The market has spoken. Which means a healthy increase when there are 10x that many users.

The API and the infrastructure need work along the way. The monetization will come in due time.

Warren Whitlock
Twitter Revolution

Warren said...

Warren W:

Excellent points. They really need to have the infrastructure in place to handle not only the current load, but also the expected growth. That's got to be the focus.