Who Has Time to Tweet ?

Posted: 10/03/2012 in Social Networking/ Social Media
Tags: ,

Life inside successful Web startups—especially the really successful ones—can be nasty, brutish, and short. As companies grow exponentially, egos clash, investors jockey for control, and business complexities rapidly exceed the managerial abilities of the founders.

Venture capitalist Peter Fenton calls this phenomenon “the violence of a startup.” And nowhere has the violence been fiercer, or more public, than at a company Fenton invested in and has helped to guide: Twitter.

Throughout its first five years of existence, Twitter always seemed on the verge of committing some excruciating form of startup seppuku. There were constant service outages (epitomized by the ubiquitous “fail whale” cartoon message), an embarrassing security breach in 2009 that released a torrent of internal documents, and nonstop departures of key employees. The pièce de résistance was the turmoil at the top: Twitter had three chief executive officers in as many years. That drama culminated with the promotion of serial entrepreneur and former Google executive Dick Costolo as CEO in 2010 and the return last year of one of Twitter’s founders, Jack Dorsey, as executive chairman and product chief.

Now something freakish is happening in San Francisco. Twitter, which for years treated the responsibility of earning money as an annoying distraction, may be turning into a viable business. The company has added seasoned executives, pushed its unique symbology like the hashtag (#) and at-symbol handle (@) into the mainstream, and rolled out new advertising products to the delight of big brands such as General Motors (GM) and Budweiser (BUD), which advertised heavily on the microblog service during this year’s Super Bowl. Twitter is on pace for revenue of $260 million in 2012, according to research firm eMarketer. That may be an insignificant fleck on the windshield of rivals Google (GOOG) and Facebook, but it’s a sign that Twitter is becoming a plausible contender for the online budgets of the world’s top advertisers. “Our ad business is only about 18 months old,” says Satya Patel, Twitter’s product vice president and, like about 90 of its colleagues, a former Googler. “2011 was the year we began scaling it. And 2012 is the year when we demonstrate that it’s a juggernaut.”

In the past, Twitter’s too-cool-for-revenue attitude enhanced its Silicon Valley mystique.

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