Did Twitter buy TweetDeck for $50 million?

If so, UberMedia just suffered a serious blow to its business plan, based on monetizing tweets

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
May 3, 2011
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Uhoh, UberMedia. Looks like a pivot might be in order.

Twitter has acquired TweetDeck for between $40 and $50 million in a combined cash and stock deal, according to unnamed sources. Though there has yet to be official confirmation from either party, the report follows word from two weeks ago that Twitter was already in advanced talks with the people behind the popular Twitter client.

If the acquisition is announced sometime this week, as expected, it will represent quite a reversal. Back in February, it had been all but confirmed that UberMedia, developer of several unofficial Twitter applications, had acquired TweetDeck for as much as $30 million.

That deal, reported in the same week that UberMedia raised $17.5 million from Accel Partners, had been intended to bolster the company’s business of monetizing tweets. Even before the TweetDeck deal, UberMedia-owned applications (UberSocial, Twidroyd, Echofon) accounted for up to 15 percent of originating tweets. By adding TweetDeck to its armory, UberMedia would have held control over one in five tweets.

Twitter obviously didn’t like the sound of that. And the company had plenty of money to make sure it didn’t happen.

As many look on with increasing wonder at how Twitter will effectively monetize its platform (that other social site looks like it's doing just fine), the issue of tweet fragmentation has become a hot issue. The San Francisco startup has put more and more pressure on third parties to not develop their own clients and it has freely suspended those that do so, like UberMedia.

You can’t really blame them. Only 58 percent of tweets originate from official apps, according to March data published by Sysomos. That means nearly half of the site’s content could be getting monetized by somebody else, something that can’t possibly be pleasing to Twitter investors. Could you imagine Facebook losing a dime from virtual good sales in Zynga’s games?

I can’t.

Relatedly, TweetDeck 2.0, the first major revamp of the app for iOS, just hit the App Store last week. Too bad it’s not getting stellar reviews. Its average rating is three-and-a-half stars, with customers calling it “one big step back,” “just another twitter client” and “awkward at best.” Ouch. Maybe the best minds over at TweetDeck were too busy juggling competing offers from UberMedia and Twitter to worry too much about product.

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