Vator's Twitter-like tool, faith and Tweets

Meliza Solan Surdi · May 16, 2009 · Short URL:

What am I Missy, Episode 19

It’s easier than ever to get the scoop on your company. Vator just launched a cool micro-blogging tool that lets you give status updates about your company. It’s been a hit with our private beta users, such as Kosmix which has nearly 900 followers in a few months. So try it out! Get started by inviting 25 followers and then post short messages on your profile to let the world know what your company is doing. Your updates are distributed on our homepage and Twitter. Vator will also drive awareness for you by recommending users to follow your company.

See: Vator opens up micro-blogging to public beta

Entrepreneurs have to walk a fine line. Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL who sold the open-source company to Sun Microsystems for 1 billion, says entrepreneurs can’t be too optimistic and too pessimistic.They just have to have faith. While in prison, Admiral Stockdale once said, "It’s having unwavering faith that you will prevail in the end." Mickos isn’t saying that building a startup is like being in prison. Though these tough times sure makes it feel that way.What he means is that entrepreneurs must believe that one day everything will be perfect and until then, you have to go through whatever pain you have to go through.

See:The Stockdale Paradox for entrepreneurs

It is not a surprise that celebrities are worshiped wherever they go...even on Twitter. In April, the month Ashton Kutcher hit 1 million followers and Oprah Winfrey joined Twitter, the micro-blog’s traffic surged! Twitter's visitors jumped 83% from march and 3000% from April of last year. But based on the tweets, Twitter is truly demonstrating that there is an insatiable appetite for pointless tweets coming from some dude. "Blah blah blah." Isn't that the name of his company?

See: Twitter's mountain of ambient noise

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.

@WalmartLabs (Kosmix)


Joined Vator on

Kosmix was acquired by Walmart in May of 2011 to create @WalmartLabs.

Through the innovative fusion of retail, social and mobile, @WalmartLabs is redefining Commerce for the largest retailer worldwide. We are a group comprised of the brightest technologists and businesspeople in the industry, excited about the limitless opportunities that this next generation of Commerce will bring to billions of people around the globe, all in an effort to help them save money and live better.

Kosmix was funded by Time Warner Investments, Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Dag Ventures, private investor Ed Zander and Jeff Bezos' personal investment company, Bezos Expeditions.


WalmartLabs is hiring.




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BlahGirls is an animated online series and blog featuring three teenage girl characters who comment on popular culture. The site is a project of Katalyst Media, a joint venture from Jason Goldberg and actor Ashton Kutcher.