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A couple weeks after getting a tax break from the Board of Supervisors, Twitter says it will stay
Twitter announced this bright Friday afternoon in San Francisco that the company has signed a different agreement to stay in the city. Hardly moving more than a mile, the company’s headquarters will be relocated from 795 Folsom dead center in the SoMa district to Market Square, a historic building in the Central Market.
It was all but certain when, in the first week of April, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a tax break for growing companies like Twitter if they moved or retained their offices to the Mid-Market and Tenderloin districts west of downtown. We were just waiting on official word from Twitter, which we have today.
A major part of the tax benefit for Twitter is that it won’t have to pay higher payroll taxes for new hires here on out. That’s huge, especially if the company keeps growing and expanding its 350+ team into the thousands. I asked Matt Graves, Director of Communications at Twitter, whether the company has any forecasts for how many people they’ll be hiring in the coming year or so, but he declined to comment.
“San Francisco’s unique creativity and inventiveness is a part of Twitter’s DNA, and we feel like we are part of San Francisco,” writes Sean Garrett, VP of Communications. “Three-quarters of our employees who live in San Francisco are involved in causes and charities in the city. Our employees are excited to be active members of our future neighborhood as volunteers, customers, diners and patrons of the arts.”
Perhaps predictably, Garrett makes no mention of the sweet tax incentives the city has promised Twitter.
The company says it will be among the first companies moving to the areas outlined by the Board of Supervisors, but there is no specific timetable yet. We’re told to expect the move to happen in mid-2012.
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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.