Twitter chomps down Cloudhopper for SMS

Ronny Kerr · April 23, 2010 · Short URL:

Cloudhopper staff joins Twitter team to bring reliable SMS infrastructure to microblogging site

CloudhopperTwitter just announced that it has acquired a young startup called Cloudhopper to "further grow and scale [Twitter's] SMS service." Though no financial details have emerged just yet, both Cloudhopper founder Joe Lauer and Director of Carrier Integration Kristin Kanaar will be joining the Twitter team as part of the deal.

Created in late 2008, Cloudhopper seeks to refine and make efficient mobile messaging technology for businesses. Promising clients zero downtime, the startup provides businesses with the software and infrastructure to scale high volume messaging programs.

Before founding Cloudhopper, Lauer was the founder and vice president of Simplewire, Inc, an SMS aggregator acquired by Qpass, Inc. in 2006. Qpass was itself acquired just a few months later for $275 million by Amdocs, a billing, customer relationship management (CRM), and operations support systems (OSS) service provider. According to Cloudhopper, Simplewire is still functional at Amdocs under the name OpenMarket and in 2010 is expected to process billions of messages and more than $600 million in mobile transactions from ringtones, games, and other multimedia.

Kevin Thau, responsible for mobile products and partnerships at Twitter, does not say much about what exactly Cloudhopper personnel will do at Twitter but he explains that his company has already worked extensively with the startup:

"Over the last eight months we have been working with a startup called Cloudhopper to become one of the highest volume SMS programs in the world—Twitter processes close to a billion SMS tweets per month and that number is growing around the world from Indonesia to Australia, the UK, the US, and beyond."

Based on Cloudhopper's niche market, it's pretty clear that both Lauer and Kanaar will be working extensively on making sure Twitter's SMS service is running on the most stable infrastructure possible.

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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.

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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.


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