Ev Williams, CEO of Twitter, was interviewed by John Battelle at Web 2.0 Summit. John focused his early questions on a revenue model for Twitter. Ev was fairly evasive and basically gave a very “Craig Newmark” style answer “We are focusing on the user experience and making Twitter a great service.” He did mention that doing something around advertising that takes advantage of the real time nature of Twitter and the analytics of the real time stream to better target ads probably makes sense.
John Battelle asked Ev about Hollywood celebs and professional athletes using Twitter. The NBA has strict rules about how players use Twitter. Ev said he talked to the owner of the New England Patriots (Robert and Jonathan Kraft) about Twitter. Said he totally gets it, but doesn’t want his players using it for fear that they might unintentionally reveal secrets, plans,, injuries, etc that might benefit the competition. The Patriots have a great Twitter presence @RealPatriots , and believe me, Jonathan Kraft gets it.
Ev says the Twitter Suggested User List is going away. It was a temporary fix so that new users weren’t faced with a blank screen. They needed to see a stream of Tweets to understand how they could use it. He said they will get better at customer service, especially by explaining their terms of service, and not blocking accounts for violations. the problem is that users don’t know what they did wrong, and don’t have any way of correcting something they don’t understand.
The top 5 countries on Twitter are the US, UK, Brazil, Japan and Indonesia. Twitter is building a platform. "Most new features are launched with the API first, rather than the actual public facing feature" That is how you build a platform and vibrant developer network.
John asked about Twitter tweets being displayed on Facebook, but it doesn’t work the other way. Why don’t Facebook updates automatically appear on Twitter? Ev said he doesn’t think it makes sense for Facebook stuff to appear on Twitter because people use Facebook in very different ways. Facebook id for communicating with friends, while Twitter is for communicating with a broad public audience.
Twitter Acquisition? John asked about Twitter possibly being acquired by Facebook or Google. The response was smart and insightful. Ev said “There are lots of amazing things we can do with Twitter.It blows my mind what we could do. It doesn't get more amazing by making it part of a bigger company. Wise man. Most young CEOs would take the money (hundreds of millions, maybe billions) and run.
Ron Conway, legendary Angel investor, believes the future is with companies that leverage the real time web, analytics, advertising, etc. For more detail on these opportunities see my earlier post where Ron explains what he is thinking. Here is his top 10 list, ala David Letterman.
Top 10 monetization opportunities in Real Time from Ron Conway (More than $5B of revenue opportunities)
10. Lead generation – Twitter and other apps are great lead generators. Followers broadcast to their followers, etc.
9. Coupons – printed coupons is a huge business, even bigger on the RT web.
8. Analytics of the data – tons of RT data that can be analyzed for trends
7. CRM – Customer relationship Management in real time, using social network apps
6. Payments - like PayPal on Twitter
5. Commerce – selling products, referring products
4. User authentication – verification of users and accounts
3. Syndication of new ad types – There will be innovation in advertising types
2. Context sensitive advertising (Display)
1. Real Time Search – Think Google in real time, filtered by your social graph
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