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Snubbing UberMedia, TweetDeck sells to Twitter for as much as $50 million
It’s over. The drama is finally over.
As was reported again and again and again over the past two months, Twitter has acquired TweetDeck, one of the most popular third-party Twitter applications for desktop, Web and mobile. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“This acquisition is an important step forward for us,” writes Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. “TweetDeck provides brands, publishers, marketers and others with a powerful platform to track all the real-time conversations they care about. In order to support this important constituency, we will continue to invest in the TweetDeck that users know and love.”
Back in February, the media was reporting that UberMedia’s $30 million acquisition of TweetDeck was all but final; we just needed official confirmation. That confirmation obviously never came.
Then all of a sudden there were rumors that Twitter was in advanced talks to acquire the company for $40 to $50 million. Those rumors echoed over the course of two months until today, when they have finally been confirmed by both TweetDeck and Twitter. (Confirmed without no sale price disclosed, of course.)
"Change may well be inevitable," writes TweetDeck creator Iain Dodsworth, "but we remain the same team, staying in London, with the same focus and products, and now with the support and resources to allow us to grow and take on even bigger challenges.
Despite how open Twitter wants to be about the acquisition, we won’t see many of our questions answered until time passes. For example, TweetDeck offers clients for the desktop, iPhone, iPad, Android and Chrome--platforms for which Twitter already has its own official clients. Will any of these TweetDeck apps be phased out in order to push more users to those official clients?
Even more interesting is the fact that TweetDeck isn’t just a platform for tweeting. The application supports sharing across multiple social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and more.
When I asked Twitter whether TweetDeck would continue to support other social networks, a spokesperson only repeated Costolo’s ambiguous statement above as an answer:
“We will continue to invest in the TweetDeck that users know and love.”
Not a yes, not a no.
Silly enough, Twitter is directing press and users to tweet any questions about the acquisition at the company’s public relations account, @twitterglobalpr. So far, however, the account is sticking to the exact same canned answer above. (Isn’t the point of social media to be more transparent. If you don’t have anything substantial or meaningful to say, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all.)
Either way, while users may not know what they’re in for, the investors behind TweetDeck have clearly won big. Dodsworth gives a special shoutout to Betaworks, TAG, SV Angel and PROfounders, who helped the startup raise just near $4 million over two rounds. If Twitter paid $50 million for TweetDeck, as has been reported, that’s a huge exit for both the TweetDeck team and its backers.
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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.