Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Twitter Is 5 Years Old - What's Its Future? It's In The Tweets...

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 21, 2011

Twitter celebrates it 5 year anniversary today. It's a fascinating service, one that has been very useful to me and my line of work. And others like it too.

I'm always fascinated by how much, or little, a company's founders/top execs use their own service or product. I think it is key to the future success of any venture that its key people know, love and use their own product.

After all, if you aren't a heavy user of your own stuff then you might not be making the right decisions about future direction, features, and these days of API proliferation -- recruiting third-party developers.

Which is why it's interesting to take a look at Twitter co-founders and how much they Tweet:

- Ev Williams, (@Ev) former CEO, now head of product strategy. Over the past five years he has Tweeted 6024 times. So far in March (up to March 21) he has Tweeted 36 times, that's less than 2 per day.

- Biz Stone, (@Biz) creative director. Over the past five years he has tweeted just 4293 times. So far in March (up to March 21) he Tweeted 16 times, that's less than 1 per day.

- Jack Dorsey, (@Jack) former CEO and originator of the idea for Twitter. He is largely out of the company and currently CEO of Square, but he is chairman of the board at Twitter. Over the past five years he has tweeted 9596 times. So far in March (up to March 21) he has Tweeted 111 times, that's far more than his co-founders at nearly 6 times a day.

What does this say about the future of Twitter?

When I saw Biz Stone speak at Inforum late last year, he said that Odeo, the podcasting venture he co-founded with Ev Williams , failed for a simple reason: the founders were not into podcasting, they didn't listen to podcasts, or record them.

He said that this lack of involvement in the core business of Odeo resulted in the failure of the startup.

How important is it that Ev WIlliams and Biz Stone be heavy users of Twitter?

Could it lead to better decisions if they were big users of their own service?

- Twitter has upset a huge number of third party developers by moving into competition with them

- Redesigns and new product rollouts have run into problems.

- Twitter is still searching for business models that can integrate advertising without harming the user experience.

I hope Twitter survives. But it's a delicate balance between usefulness and the dumpster.

If the team mismanages growth and its business model - Twitter could join Digg, Friendster, Delicious, etc, in the footnotes of Internet history. The rise of Internet darlings can be swift and the fall merciless.


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