YCombinator, Twitter team up

Matt Bowman · October 27, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/b71

Incubator extends funding deadline. Startups to get priority access to Twitter stream, personnel

 Twitter founders Evan William and Biz Stone visited YCombinator’s Startup School this Saturday, and apparently had a productive kibbitz session with the YC team, who suddenly decided to extend the deadline for its 2010 winter session by two days to allow for more Tweet-centric startups. The deadline's been moved from 10pm Monday night to the same time Wednesday. Startups that apply to build services on top of Twitter will get priority access to the Twitter stream and to people, presumably Ev and Biz, at Twitter. YC’s Paul Graham explained the thinking behind the new partnership in a post on Monday, likening the microblogging platform to the fundamental buildling blocks of the web:

"Twitter is important because it's a new protocol. Fundamentally it's a messaging protocol where you don't specify the recipients. It's really more of a discovery than an invention; that square was always there in the periodic table of protocols, but no one had quite hit it squarely.

"Successful new protocols are rare. There are only a handful of commonly used ones: TCP/IP (the Internet), SMTP (email), HTTP (the web), and so on. So any new protocol is a big deal. Each one of those protocols has spawned many successful companies. Twitter will too."

The extended deadline also applies to startups building on top of life-casting platform Justin.tv, though that partnership has been contemplated for a while, according to the announcement. Both initiatives reflect a focus on real-time data platforms, which many angel investors like Ron Conway believe is The Next Big Thing.

There are, of course, a swath of startups already based on the Twitter API, (TweetDeck, Tweecha, Echofon, etc.) but priority access to the Twitter stream and personnel could differentiate the companies coming out of the YC deal.

Earlier this year, YC began issuing “Requests for Startups” (RFSes) that specify an idea the incubator believes is ripe for early-stage startups. Since the first RFS in August, YC has issued four, which together constitute a pretty good summary of fertile startup territory. The Twitter and Justin.tv initiatives are the third and fourth RFSes, respectively; the first two highlight the future of journalism and new paths from consumer to vendor.

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Twitter

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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.

Tweecha

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TWEECHA is there to help you to gain thousands of genuine followers who will track your updates and interact with you in real time. The more the merrier! A reputed Twitter profile will help you to get new clients and serve your existing ones in a better way

Justin.tv

Startup/Business

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Justin.tv is building the destination site for broadcasting and watching live video online while chatting with friends. Justin.tv tears down the walls of traditional video and social networking sites by enabling viewers and broadcasters to interact and exchange ideas in real time through chat and live video.

In the past, live broadcasting was only available to large media corporations who were willing to spend millions of dollars. Today, Justin.tv has democratized live video by shrinking all of the functionality of an expensive TV satellite trunk into a simple laptop or desktop computer.

The Justin.tv live video network is powered by Python Media Server - a custom built live streaming video server cluster. The network can support thousands of live broadcasts and over 100,000 simultaneous viewers and is 100% owned and operated by Justin.tv.

The Justin.tv chat system is powered by the JTV Twisted Chat Server - a custom built chat server that implements a wide variety of filtering and moderation techniques and relays well over a million messages a day.

Justin.tv has hundreds of thousands registered users and receives millions of uniques and tens of millions of pageviews per month.

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Ron Conway

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