Twitter acquires Smallthought Systems

Ronny Kerr · June 10, 2010 · Short URL:

Creator of Dabble DB for databases and Trendly for analytics gets bought by startup-hungry Twitter

trendlyTwitter has acquired Smallthought Systems, the company behind online database service Dabble DB and analytics dashboard Trendly.

Though Twitter once used Dabble DB for project management, Trendly was what recently attracted the startup to Smallthought.

Trendly reports translate raw Google Analytics data into trends that highlight significant deviations in inputted data. Twitter was one of the first companies to try Trendly, and it looks like they were happy with the results. For a smallTrendly analytics company trying to keep up with 65 million tweets daily, careful and intricate analysis of data is essential.

"[Smallthought Systems] have joined our analytics team and will focus on integrating ideas from Trendly into our current tools and building innovative realtime products for our future commercial partners," announced Kevin Weil, Analytics Lead at Twitter.

Avi Bryant, Andrew Catton, Ben Matasar, and Luke Andrews of Smallthought are joining Twitter.

Founded in 2005 and based in Vancouver, Smallthought's central product was Dabble DB, a product that helps clients create online databases. The Web-based application enables users to carry out a variety of functions, like collaborate with colleagues, share, collect, and filter data, and create calendars and charts. Clients use Smallthought's services for a variety of purposes, including customer relationship management, timesheets, basic statistical analysis, and scheduling events.

Dabble DB is disabling new account signups effective immediately, according to the company Web site, but current customer accounts will continue to function the same, for the time being. Operations will likely cease sometime in the future, but Dabble says it will give users 60-day advance notification before rolling out any changes.

Trendly is also no longer accepting new customers.

In addition to Smallthought Systems, Twitter has also recently acquired Mixer Labs and Atebits, the company behind Tweetie for iPhone.

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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. 

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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.

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