UberMedia, developer of several Twitter-based applications and services for both Web and mobile, may be working on a brand new microblogging site to rival the 800-pound gorilla in the space, according to sources close to CNN.
Founded by serially successful entrepreneur Bill Gross, UberMedia has a rich and involved history with Twitter, especially in the last couple months, when Twitter started seriously cracking down on third parties that used the name “Twitter” or built applications too similar to official Twitter clients.
Back in February, Twitter briefly suspended UberMedia until the company made a few small changes to its applications, which included renaming UberTwitter to UberSocial. Even so, Gross has built a business based on developing Twitter clients--UberSocial (iPhone and BlackBerry), Twidroyd (Android), Echofon (iPad, iPhone and desktop), UberCurrent (iPhone) and TweetDeck (acquired by UberMedia days before its suspension).
Even more fascinating is the fact that UberMedia announced having raised a $17.5 million round from Accel Partners in the same seven-day period in which it acquired TweetDeck and was suspended by Twitter. It was a wild time for business at UberMedia, but the timing of the funding round meant that the company could actually sit and consider reevaluating its future as merely another funnel for Twitter content.
Supposing CNN’s sources are to be believed, it wouldn’t be farfetched to think that talk of developing a Twitter rival emerged from that fateful week in February. And it would be the start of an epic pivot for UberMedia.
UberMedia’s Twitter rival won’t just be a carbon copy, instead opting to address user complaints like the 140-character limitation and the relatively high learning curve for new registrants.
If this were any other company, the news wouldn’t be so exciting; after all, the phrase “Twitter killer” sounds about as believable and meaningful as “iPhone killer.” And though growth has slumped slightly a couple times over its short history, the five-year-old Twitter is robust: it has around 200 million users, sees one billion tweets sent per week, and employs 400 workers from its San Francisco headquarters.
That said, UberMedia has the leading power of Bill Gross, whose companies in the past can boast of being acquired by Yahoo (Overture) and Google (Picasa). And, lest we forget, no matter how many websites and restaurants plaster those little light blue Twitter icons and “follow me!” stickers everywhere they can, no service, especially of the social variety, is safe from competition. With a word, I present to you not the only example, but the best: Myspace.
Your move, Twitter.