Twitter may yet prove that it is more than the gilded plaything of venture capitalists , and a productivity killer for those of us who tweet while we should be working. In an interview with UK-based Marketing newspaper, co-founder Biz Stone said that the company was identifying ways to charge for commercial accounts.
Stone told Marketing, “We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts,” without specifying how much the company would charge. In a Twitter blog post today, he stressed that the company isn’t ready to make any announcements about how it’ll make money. But he did say “we hope to begin iterating on revenue products this year,” which is Silicon Valleyspeak for “Sooner or later we’re gonna need to make some money.”
An actual revenue model –fancy that. Twitter’s popularity has exploded, but there has not been so much as a single advertisement served up on its Web site. Since it is unlikely that anyone will pony up another $500 million offer to buy it out anytime soon (as Facebook is rumored to have done), it’s time for Twitter to face up to the reality of 2009 and earn some money.
Since its inception, venture capitalists Bezos Expeditions, Digital Garage, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures have showered a combined $20 million in private equity on Stone and crew. Meanwhile, Twitter hasnever publicly explained (or demonstrated) how it would turn a profit.
Now that it has an established user base, it makes perfect sense for Twitter to leverage the direct access that it has afforded brands to their customers. Twitter has the opportunity to create several products that could keep the failwhale at bay, and to keep its employees’ lights on.