Celebrating the five-year-old Twitterverse

Roundup: Jack Dorsey's very first Tweet, interesting site statistics, and recent company financials

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
March 15, 2011
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“Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you.”
Such were the first words ever communicated over electricity. Strangely enough, Alexander Graham Bell’s command to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, reads a lot like the first tweet ever sent:

It was sent by Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, on March 21, 2006.

Can you believe its Twitter’s fifth birthday already? It feels like just yesterday that all my friends were making fun of me for using the service, saying, “Twitter is ridiculous. Why do I need a website where all people do is post about what they had for lunch? Bo-o-o-ring.”

Oh wait, that was yesterday.

In spite of the naysayers, however, regular Twitter users understand the power of the microblogging site and have helped make the site not only one of the most popular social networks on the Web but also one of the most valued. It’s a place to read news, see “what’s happening,” share media instantly and express yourself creatively. No active Twitter user can doubt that the 140-character limit is still fundamental to the site’s success.

In celebration of five years, Twitter posted a bunch of interesting statistics on the company blog, which I’ve republished here:

  • 3 years, 2 months and 1 day. The time it took from the first Tweet to the billionth Tweet.
  • 1 week. The time it now takes for users to send a billion Tweets.
  • 50 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, one year ago.
  • 140 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, in the last month.
  • 177 million. Tweets sent on March 11, 2011.
  • 456. Tweets per second (TPS) when Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 (a record at that time).
  • 6,939. Current TPS record, set 4 seconds after midnight in Japan on New Year’s Day.
  • 572,000. Number of new accounts created on March 12, 2011.
  • 460,000. Average number of new accounts per day over the last month.
  • 182%. Increase in number of mobile users over the past year.
  • 8. 29. 130. 350. 400. Number of Twitter employees in Jan 2008, Jan 2009, Jan 2010, Jan 2011 and today.
Besides the rapid expansion of tweets, accounts and employees, Twitter has also accelerated its valuation and ad revenue, though the first is often deplored as too high because the latter is too low.

At the end of 2010, the company raised a $200 million round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that valued the maturing startup at $3.7 billion. Then a month ago Andreessen Horowitz bet over $80 million on Twitter by purchasing stock on the secondary market.

All the while, Twitter is ramping up its revenue search with various ad offerings. Promoted Trends, for example, cost a business between $70,000 and $80,000 per day. The company is forecasted, by eMarketer, to reach $150 million in revenue, slightly more than tripling 2010 revenue’s estimate of $45 million. Whether that’s enough is up for debate.

After all these years, though, there’s one thing that always stays the same: Facebook and Google want Twitter so, so bad.

Happy birthday, Twitterverse.

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