Is there life after Twitter? Here are 2 guys who hope so
The S.F. Chronicle ran this story, courtesy of the Associated Press:
Top media execs wonder how Twitter will make money
At a top media summit held up in Sun Valley (how come I never get invited to these things?), some of the shrewdest financial minds in the country held a workshop on how Twitter is supposed to make money. Twitter’s co-founders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, were there.
According to the article, the prognosis for profit is bleak. “I just don’t think [Twitter] is a natural advertising medium,” said Barry Diller. John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media, expressed similar doubts. The article paraphrased him as saying that “Twitter will be hard-pressed to sell advertising…without alienating users.” It’s “best bet,” Malone supposedly said, “is to simply get people so addicted that they might eventually pay fees.” The A.P. reporter concluded, “Twitter hasn’t attempted to profit from its popularity yet, leaving everyone guessing about how the 3-year old startup intends to pay its bills after it exhausts its $55 million venture capital.”
The A.P. reporter tried to get Williams or Stone to comment, but “they didn’t speak up when other executives expressed doubts about Twitter’s revenue prospects.”
Those Twitter guys
[Later that night, at Sushi on Second, a popular hangout in downtown Ketchum. Two despondent guys are on their fourth round of sake.]
Evan Williams: Did you hear what that schmuck, Diller, said? “I don’t think Twitter is a natural advertising medium.” Like, what the hell does he know about ‘natural’?
Biz Stone: Yeah. [laughs bitterly] Everybody knows why he married Diane von Furstenberg.
EW: And that creep, Malone. He talks like we’re drug pushers. Jeez. ‘Addicted.’
BS: We’re creating twaddicts.
They order another round.
BS: Do you really think we could sell ads?
EW: [shrugs] Dunno. Shinkle said we could, on The Ticker.
BS: Yeah, I read that. But he said they’d have to be “unobstrusive.”
EW: What the hell does that mean?
BS: Well, if Google can do it, why can’t we?
EW: [brightens] Yeah! [lifts glass] We can do it! Here’s to Twitter ads!
EW: Maybe Malone has a point. The kids are addicted to Twitter. They can’t live without it.
BS: [making a menacing face and clutching his hands] Ve hef cree-ay-ted a generashun uf dope eddics!
EW: Do you think they’re really hooked, though? I mean, if we suddenly, like, overnight launched a fee. How many would leave?
BS: I guess all of ‘em, except the truly hooked.
EW: We could call ‘em the twooked!
[both are in hysterics]
EW: You gonna finish that California roll?
BS: Twat’s that you say?
EW: [sighs] There has to be another way besides advertising and subscriptions. I mean, both are risky…
EW: [takes another sip] Remember when we realized this could be huge? I was living in Berkeley–
BS: Right. And I was up in Sonoma, drinking wine.
EW: Pinot Noir, if I recall correctly.
BS: Right! And getting a massage. What was her name, anyway?
EW: You twitted me about it, and I thought, Day-um, this isn’t just about communicating, it’s about having fun!
BS: And getting rich!
EW: [hoists his glass in the air] Here’s to getting rich! L’chaim!
One hour later
EW: Hey, you know what’s really funny? If we can’t make money off Twitter, how are all these people who use Twitter gonna make money?
BS: lol, dude.
EW: Page and Brim had a billion before they were 30.
BS: Yeah. [both lapse into silence]
BS: You know what? I have an idea.
EW: Can you tell me in 140 characters?
BS: Lemme whisper it in your ear. You don’t think I’m gonna say it on Heimoff’s blog?
EW: Why not? Everybody thinks he just makes this shit up, anyway.
Or does he?