$1B spent on Twitter ecosystem acquisitions

Ronny Kerr · May 13, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1a67

600,000 developers, 900,000 applications, 13 billion API calls, more monthly signups, mobile growth

Twitter last night hosted a developer-centric event in San Francisco called #devnest, and it did a good job of returning the site’s developer ecosystem to a positive light with just a few mind-boggling statistics.

There are 600,000 developers working on 900,000 applications that interact with the microblogging site’s API, according to Ryan Sarver (head of Twitter Platform/API), and Twitter is now processing over 13 billion API requests daily.

Here are some other notable stats that surfaced at #devnest:

Monthly account signups increased by 52 percent in Q1 2011, or by 57 percent for the U.S. alone. Twitter also experienced a 41 percent increase in daily tweets, TNW reports, with a 38 percent increase just in the U.S.

In that same quarter, of course, Twitter noted an increase in monthly active users on all mobile devices: 104 percent on Android, 72 percent on iPad, 55 percent on iPhone and 51 percent on Blackberry.

Jason Costa, who Twitter hired in April to head developer relations, says key areas for development include “Analytics, Content, Curation, Publishing and Enterprise.” (Just don’t build another Twitter client: developers were told to stop doing so earlier this year, likely because it’s not in the company’s best interests to have consumers driven to unofficial apps.)

Finally, Costa tweeted that the Twitter ecosystem saw $1 billion in acquisitions and $475 million in venture capital investments over the past six months.

Seen as a kind of replacement for Chirp, the official Twitter developer conference hosted April of last year in San Francisco, #devnest seems a much more laid-back affair. The only official Web presence the event had consisted of a Google Groups discussion and a Tweetup page, which says 204 people were in attendance. (That number hasn’t been confirmed.)

Costa, who was completely in charge of this #devnest, says it’s only “the first of many events to come.”

“And for those not based in San Francisco, we're planning to do a string of dates in several cities around the US, and in other cities around the world. Plus, we're planning to record the event and release it on YouTube.”

#devnest and Costa’s hiring, in general, are seen as moves by Twitter to recover its relationship with developers, turned off a bit by the company’s reprimanding anyone still making third-party clients. Plus, there was the whole fiasco with UberMedia losing API access for a couple days, a struggle that apparently still lives on in the fight to acquire TweetDeck, one of the single most popular third-party Twitter clients.

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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.