Blerp goes beta with real-time talk tool

Ronny Kerr · July 30, 2009 · Short URL:

Social chatter service allows users to comment with text and multimedia across the Internet

Twitter might have some competition in its race to become the “pulse of the planet.”

blerpThe latest in social networking, Blerp allows users to post and share comments, videos, photos, and more on top of any site online. Today, the service makes the important transition from alpha mode to beta, with its team announcing that Blerp now features seamless integration through Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox plugins.

Not only does Blerp create discussions right on top any Web site on the Internet, but the latest upgrade allows users who activate their Twitter and/or Facebook accounts to have Blerp posts show up on the feeds on those sites.

The service is trying to both expand online discussions to all the Web pages of the Internet while increasing the potential for multimedia shared by users. As this screenshot shows, users can, in addition to posting regular comments, link back to other articles, post relevant images, and even create polls on the spot.

Blerp is just one of a couple products created by RocketOn, a South San Francisco-based startup aiming to combine all the discussions taking place across the Internet into one unified forum.

RocketOn’s virtual community platform allows users to create an avatar for themselves that can explore any Web site as one segment of the vast virtual world. In addition to chatting and playing games with friends, users can get really silly with their virtual characters by adopting pets or going on dates, just to name a few activities.

Right now, the company’s business model is founded on what it calls a “healthy revenue stream” from the sell of virtual goods to users’ avatars. After raising $5 million in Series B funding from the D.E. Shaw Group in February 2008, RocketOn has been slowly growing as a healthy startup that at least one report has dubbed “Twitter 2.0.”

With Blerp’s upgrade from alpha to beta, RocketOn continues to implement its mission of unifying the Internet’s scattered discussions.

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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.



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ROCKETON is a venture-funded startup that is developing a new type of massively multiplayer entertainment experience.

We are located in foggy South San Francisco. We're always looking for creative minds to join the ROCKETON community and our team. If you have ideas and want to contribute, that would be great. We believe in group collaboration and are looking for new ways to harness the creative energy of artists, programmers and designers all over the world.