Celebrating the five-year-old Twitterverse

Ronny Kerr · March 15, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1834

Roundup: Jack Dorsey's very first Tweet, interesting site statistics, and recent company financials

“Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you.”
 
Such were the first words ever communicated over electricity. Strangely enough, Alexander Graham Bell’s command to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, reads a lot like the first tweet ever sent:
 

It was sent by Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, on March 21, 2006.

Can you believe its Twitter’s fifth birthday already? It feels like just yesterday that all my friends were making fun of me for using the service, saying, “Twitter is ridiculous. Why do I need a website where all people do is post about what they had for lunch? Bo-o-o-ring.”

Oh wait, that was yesterday.

In spite of the naysayers, however, regular Twitter users understand the power of the microblogging site and have helped make the site not only one of the most popular social networks on the Web but also one of the most valued. It’s a place to read news, see “what’s happening,” share media instantly and express yourself creatively. No active Twitter user can doubt that the 140-character limit is still fundamental to the site’s success.

In celebration of five years, Twitter posted a bunch of interesting statistics on the company blog, which I’ve republished here:

#tweets
  • 3 years, 2 months and 1 day. The time it took from the first Tweet to the billionth Tweet.
  • 1 week. The time it now takes for users to send a billion Tweets.
  • 50 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, one year ago.
  • 140 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, in the last month.
  • 177 million. Tweets sent on March 11, 2011.
  • 456. Tweets per second (TPS) when Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 (a record at that time).
  • 6,939. Current TPS record, set 4 seconds after midnight in Japan on New Year’s Day.
#accounts
  • 572,000. Number of new accounts created on March 12, 2011.
  • 460,000. Average number of new accounts per day over the last month.
  • 182%. Increase in number of mobile users over the past year.
#employees
  • 8. 29. 130. 350. 400. Number of Twitter employees in Jan 2008, Jan 2009, Jan 2010, Jan 2011 and today.
Besides the rapid expansion of tweets, accounts and employees, Twitter has also accelerated its valuation and ad revenue, though the first is often deplored as too high because the latter is too low.

At the end of 2010, the company raised a $200 million round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that valued the maturing startup at $3.7 billion. Then a month ago Andreessen Horowitz bet over $80 million on Twitter by purchasing stock on the secondary market.

All the while, Twitter is ramping up its revenue search with various ad offerings. Promoted Trends, for example, cost a business between $70,000 and $80,000 per day. The company is forecasted, by eMarketer, to reach $150 million in revenue, slightly more than tripling 2010 revenue’s estimate of $45 million. Whether that’s enough is up for debate.

After all these years, though, there’s one thing that always stays the same: Facebook and Google want Twitter so, so bad.

Happy birthday, Twitterverse.
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Ronny Kerr

I am a professional writer with a decade of experience in the technology industry. At VatorNews, I cover the zero-waste economy, venture capital, and cannabis. I'm also available for freelance hire.

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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.