Guy Kawasaki on how to be Web famous

Bambi Francisco Roizen · November 19, 2008 · Short URL:

Follow your followers; be a prolific Twitter-er; answer all emails; be around for 25 yrs

Being famous is relative. These days, you can be famous on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Or, you can use those platforms to launch yourself into Internet stardom. Who better to talk about how to become famous online but the ubiquitous Guy Kawasaki, whose Twitter following is fast approaching 30,000.

In this part III interview with Guy, the venture capitalist, author of "Reality Check," and co-founder of AllTop, we talk about his tricks to sustaining and growing his Web persona. (At the time of this filming, Guy had 21,000 followers. See our other interviews below.) 

First off, Guy admitted that fame and fortune don't happen overnight. "It took me 25 years to get famous," he said, humbly. That's what led to him to attract 21,000 followers on Twitter in nine months. 

So, how do you continue growing that base? I asked.

"Robert Scoble (who has 39k Twitter followers) told me that when someone follows you, you follow them," he replied. Kawasaki uses SocialToo, which enables you to automatically follow someone who's following you. Darn. And, I thought Kawasaki followed me on Twitter because he thought my Tweets were interesting. Guy is following more than 28,000 people on Twitter. 

Secondly, you should Twitter often. And, don't just use Twitter to promote yourself.

"When I find interesting links, or pages, or photographs, absurdities, I Tweet them all the time. People have accused me of promoting AllTop too much on Twitter… so, I conscientiously put in a lot of conent that has nothing to do with AllTop," he said. Use sites that can keep you informed. For instance, use AllTop and Stumbleupon, and "you will be a fascinating person," he added. "I don't care how dull you are."

Thirdly, answer your emails. "I answer my emails, all my directs and replies," he said. "That's the cost."

Bottom line, there is responsibility and maintenance to being a celebrity. 


Image Description

Bambi Francisco Roizen

Author of "Unequally Yoked"; Co-founder Vator and Invent Health; Former Columnist/correspondent Dow Jones MarketWatch; Business anchor CBS affiliate KPIX

All author posts

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Interviews" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs



Joined Vator on

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, 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, 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 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.


Guy Kawasaki

Joined Vator on