Twitter keg party; Storing cold, hard cash

Meliza Solan Surdi · June 9, 2009 · Short URL:

What am I Missy, Episode 22

Anheuser-Busch has a Twitter account for Michelob to generate some buzz. Now beer lovers can chat with other fellow beer lovers. But if you have a Twitter account, aren't you supposed to be succinct? Last time I checked, the more beer someone consumes, the less succinct they become. And, another thing - how does a beer tweet anyway?

See: Michelob Twitter account under the spotlight

Since the post-Enron regulation that doubled the time needed for startups to go public, venture capitalists have been thirsty for liquidity. Some VCs see the opportunity in the current cash flow crunch. Tim Draper, whose various funds invest in over five hundred startups, unveiled one of his latest investments called XChange. This company is a trading platform for private company stock where VCs, equity holders, and qualified buyers can trade restricted assets. But are these private exchanges a short term patch for a temporary IPO drought or a permanent fixture?

See: Tim Draper unveils the XChange marketplace

Given the fact that banks are not doing so well these days, where should founders stash their newly-raised, cold-hard cash? Believe it or not, the best place is the refrigerator, according to the founders of Heyzap, a startup that allows Web sites or blogs to take the most exciting flash games and embed them onto their Web site. Founders Jude Gomila and Immad Akhund decided it would be best to store their recent round of seed funding safely away in the office refrigerator. How much was in there? Since the door did not budge, we were unable to find out.

See: An inside look at Heyzap

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Heyzap allows any website or blog to take the most exciting flash games and put them into their website. This results in the website/blog having increased traffic, user time of site and engagement. When youtube got video out everywhere over the internet, it changed the entire experience of the internet.



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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.


Jude Gomila

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An entrepreneur and angel investor who has invested in over 150 startups over the past ten years.

Immad Akhund

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Tim Draper

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