How quickly could a ‘new Twitter’ take off?

I was having a read of this piece by Jemima Kiss over at The Guardian this morning: Facebook and Twitter: We couldn’t agree on a takeover price.

And then TweetyMike popped up in my Tweetdeck with this question on the same subject:

Gets one thinking: how quickly could a new Twitter take off? Was passing on that $100m cash a smart move?

Mike’s referring to the fact that — according to Jemima — Facebook offered $100m in cash and $400m of stock to buy Twitter. But since Facebook stock isn’t public and we… well, you just have to make up the stock price based on jointly agreed principles. So that $500m offer wasn’t really $500m. It was $100m in cash and the rest in funny money. Facebook is either worth $15bn, $3.7bn or, frankly, what an acquirer might pay for it.

So the Twitter chaps passed on that deal.

How wise was this?

It takes a lottaballs and a heck of a lot of good old crystal ball gazing to walk away from those kind of numbers.

Just how defendable is Twitter?

Well, it’s got critical mass. Right?

Or has it? It’s got critical mass with me. But it’s certainly not used by any of my 23 year old brother’s friends. No one gives a stuff about it and a lot of people simply can’t get their heads around it — other than to sign-up to follow Stephen Fry. The same could be said about Facebook — in the beginning, nobody got it. Or did they?

I think the Facebook concept was pretty easy to grasp. Yes we didn’t entirely know what the whole ‘poke’ thing was about. (“Does that mean Poke as in POKE?? Oh”) But signing-up and starting to use it was pretty easy. Witness then, the hundreds of millions of folk on Facebook and the hundreds of thousands on Twitter.

So how defendable is Twitter?

Yes there are lots of applications using the API. Yes there are lots of people already firmly settled in their Twitter accounts.

It wouldn’t be that difficult to swap to a replica Twotter.com instead. Indeed if you replicated the API and offered a ‘click to transfer your friends’ link, it would be really easy for the developer of TweetDeck to knock out a TwotDeck alternative. A one digit change in the API code.

If James Whatley decided to move to Twotter, then a lot of folk would follow. Similarly if we started actively using Twotter and simply pumping out a ‘copy’ to Twitter here at Mobile Industry Review, I’m willing to bet you’d take a look at Twotter as well. And if Stephen Fry decided that Twotter was a better platform with more tools and more ‘stuff’, that would get a lot of attention.

Is Twitter’s defendable point the fact that it’s being used already? Does it have ‘critical mass’? Or will that $100m + $400m of Facebook stock look like a rather good deal when we all mass migrate — literally at a click-of-a-button to Twotter?

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26 Responses to How quickly could a ‘new Twitter’ take off?

  1. Kip Hakes March 2, 2009 at 5:56 am #

    I think any sort of social network has a 'critical mass' – even Facebook Will Facebook be around in 5 years? Probably. Will something else have more active users and be even bigger? Absolutely.

  2. Mike42 March 2, 2009 at 6:14 am #

    “Will something else have more active users and be even bigger? Absolutely.”

    er…not necessarily. You could have said that about Google a while back after they got a decent share over the competition but still weren't the 800lb Gorilla, but it's bigger than ever with no-one even close.

    What the Twitter team bet is that they will remain the 800lb Gorilla of the 140-character lifestream link-o-fest jungle (actually, AFAIK they are the only Gorilla in there at the 'mo – other primates may be available)

  3. Staska March 2, 2009 at 7:07 am #

    How defensible was Google in 1999/2002? How hard should it have been for Yahoo or Microsoft to develop link based search algorythm and displace them with their own search? Actually they did that, a bit later, without measurable success.

    And it should have taken a lot of balls to walk away from the buyout offer Google got from their own main partner and traffic source at the time – Yahoo, during dot com bust doom and gloom.

    What about Skype? How hard could it be to replicate their technology and beat them in VoiP space? Especially if you already have a huge IM platform? And especially when Skype still was a small start-up known only to early adopters, and virtually unknown in U.S.

    The fact is that even after Ebay acquisition, lost focus and super lame execution since then, Skype still dominates PC to PC voice chat.

    Can Twitter fail or be displaced? Sure. Especially if they loose their focus or start making some stuipid mistakes. But I don't see that happening anytime soon.

    And it's not that easy as it looks, (remember Jaiku/Google)?

    At this point of Twitter development, I'll trust more into the insights and vision of Twitter team, then anyone making Twitter clone and displacing them (Facebook Status updates and other biggies included)

    And I see the fact that nobody is able to figure out how to make money on these 140 character messages as a huge plus for Twitter, as long as they have trust of their investors and money to burn. Because even if there is some interest in this field from others, it's not big enough. Especially when everybody is downsizing and cutting unprofitable activities.

  4. James Whatley March 2, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    Thing is guys, some folk just don't want to sell.

    What about Facebook? It wasn't that far back when there was talk of Yahoo/Google/Microsoft buying them…
    …and they passed.

    They knew they were onto a good thing and are in it for the long haul.
    Trust me when I tell you that the guys at Twitter are smart enough to know that they're in for the long haul too.

    …and if you can't see the very real money-making opportunity that lies within the Twitter date silos then you're really missing the point.

  5. Mike42 March 2, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    Bebo = $850M, 40M users. Pre-credit crunch.

    Twitter pass up $100M + much-vaunted 'value' of £400M FB stock. In a post-credit-crunch world, who is going to be able to raise the sort of backing that funded the Bebo purchase? Apple/MS, out of cash?

    Especially when it's proven that a few smart guys in a shed can start something pretty cool. For a lot less than $500M+.

    *EVERYONE* has data silos. MNO's have data silos up the wazoo. So do ISP's. So does BT. So does every SN out there. And all they can do is target ads in an extremely haphazard manner.

  6. Tom March 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    You seem to forget, that actually not having the massive crowd on Twitter mean's it's heavily populated with early adopters – which can mean it's a totally different demographic – and can serve a lot more functions. If everyone on Facebook used Twitter, it could dilute the raison d'etre of Twitter

  7. Mike42 March 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    Bebo = $850M, 40M users. Pre-credit crunch.

    Twitter pass up $100M + much-vaunted 'value' of £400M FB stock. In a post-credit-crunch world, who is going to be able to raise the sort of backing that funded the Bebo purchase? Apple/MS, out of cash?

    Especially when it's proven that a few smart guys in a shed can start something pretty cool. For a lot less than $500M+.

    *EVERYONE* has data silos. MNO's have data silos up the wazoo. So do ISP's. So does BT. So does every SN out there. And all they can do is target ads in an extremely haphazard manner.

  8. Tom March 2, 2009 at 8:36 pm #

    You seem to forget, that actually not having the massive crowd on Twitter mean's it's heavily populated with early adopters – which can mean it's a totally different demographic – and can serve a lot more functions. If everyone on Facebook used Twitter, it could dilute the raison d'etre of Twitter

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jeremy - soulvisual - March 2, 2009

    RT: @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  2. Marc Morrell - March 2, 2009

    Via @imjustcreative: > How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP *Gonna happen. Should’ve taken the $$

  3. Joel Mackey - March 2, 2009

    RT @cristianvasile: RT @andysowards RT @JesseNewhart How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  4. TJ Kirchner - March 2, 2009

    A lot of room for improvement could rise 2 a Twitter Killer RT @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  5. YouMakeMyLifeHell - March 2, 2009

    RT @passionsista @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  6. Heidi Erdmann - March 2, 2009

    I happened to catch Barbara Walter’s mention of twitter as I was waiting for the snow to stop. Too funny: http://bit.ly/lplP

  7. Jeremy - soulvisual - March 2, 2009

    RT: @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  8. Marc Morrell - March 2, 2009

    Via @imjustcreative: > How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP *Gonna happen. Should’ve taken the $$

  9. Joel Mackey - March 2, 2009

    RT @cristianvasile: RT @andysowards RT @JesseNewhart How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  10. TJ Kirchner - March 2, 2009

    A lot of room for improvement could rise 2 a Twitter Killer RT @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  11. YouMakeMyLifeHell - March 2, 2009

    RT @passionsista @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  12. YouMakeMyLifeHell - March 2, 2009

    RT @passionsista @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP

  13. Heidi Erdmann - March 2, 2009

    I happened to catch Barbara Walter’s mention of twitter as I was waiting for the snow to stop. Too funny: http://bit.ly/lplP

  14. Andre Deutmeyer - March 2, 2009

    RT @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP – Interesting. I agree, there is room for a twallenger.

  15. Andre Deutmeyer - March 3, 2009

    RT @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP – Interesting. I agree, there is room for a twallenger.

  16. Andre Deutmeyer - March 3, 2009

    RT @JesseNewhart: How Quickly Could A ‘New Twitter’ Take Off? http://bit.ly/lplP – Interesting. I agree, there is room for a twallenger.

  17. Jacob Heftmann - March 3, 2009

    could a new twitter take off? I’m going to have to say no. http://bit.ly/lplP

  18. Jacob Heftmann - March 4, 2009

    could a new twitter take off? I’m going to have to say no. http://bit.ly/lplP

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