Conway shuffles empire to focus on real-time

Matt Bowman · August 18, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/a0c

The super angel is forming a new fund focused exclusively on real-time data companies.

The Godfather of Silicon Valley has been touting real-time technology startups for the past several months, and is now reorganizing  his investment empire to stay focused on the trend, according to VentureBeat.

He's peeling off David Lee and Brian Pokorny from his existing fund Baseline Ventures, to form SV Angel LLC (a name reminiscent of his late 90s fund, Angel Investors, LLC). His son Topher Conway and Kevin Carter will continue at Baseline. Between the two funds, Ron expects to invest in 40 to 50 new startups over the next 18 months.

Conway is an investor in Twitter, Facebook (interestingly, he’s not active on either of them), Aardvark, Kyte, CoTweet, TweetDeck, StumbleUpon, Digg, Seesmic, and a slough of Web 2.0 companies that do or could have a strong real-time dimension.

He says the real-time data market could reach a billion dollars in 3 years, and compares its status now to internet search in 1998.

Conway’s portfolio investment approach—pick the next wave, fund as many solid companies as you can, and watch the next Google emerge—has worked well.  That being said, he's stayed out of the greentech boom. Big as that market is, it will have fewer winners relative to market size, given the astronomical capital requirements. For the two-guys-in-garage-style startup Conway seems to like, now’s a good time to be in real-time.

image credit: joi

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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 Twitter.com, 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 Twitter.com, 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 Virginamerica.com 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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