Steve Rubel has a post setting forth 3 reasons why Twitter will be sold soon. I’ve been watching Twitter for a while. I just signed up (see the box in the right column). It’s a cool little application, but here are 3 reasons why I respectfully disagree with Steve.
1) Twitter is growing by leaps and bounds- no doubt about it. It is the app de jour for the blogging crowd, which as I have said a million times before is sort of like being the favorite book of the Yeti crowd. You hear a lot about Yeti if you happen to be in Nepal, but Yeti is a non-factor for most of the people in the world. I also wonder how many of the current Twitter groupies will stay the course over the coming weeks and months as the new app de jours come and go. If I were going to bet on someone getting bought, it would be Jott. Now there is an application that I find really useful. People in the real world will find Jott useful.
2) My reason number 2 is also Steve’s reason number 2: Twitter doesn’t monetize its audience. It shares that inconvenient truth with about 99% of the rest of Web 2.0. As soon as Google buys Twitter and starts trying to cram more ads down our throat (or collect more of our personal data), a lot of users will bolt. Stated another way, the “I dig it” threshold is much lower for a garage project like Twitter is now than it is for yet another Google attempt to increase ads and decrease privacy. Some one should go back and look at last years’ darlings and see how many of them have monetized their traffic. And how many of them are out of business.
3) While Twitter is probably cheap, there is a reason for that. If there were an obvious way to monetize its buzz, it wouldn’t be. Even the Web 2.0 market is somewhat efficient. It’s the big, seemingly insane buys (YouTube, MySpace, etc.) that end up prolonging the cycle and generating cash, or at least the potential for cash. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry about that, but it’s true. These great little apps like Twitter have a hard time finding a place in the VC arena where everyone is trying to hit home runs. Like Tony La Russa said, you can win a lot of games with doubles and singles, but most of the money gurus have forgotten this.
I like Twitter. I’ll probably use it for a while. But it’s not something I like enough to pay for or to suffer through ads for.
So unless some Mighty Casey with a lot of money to spend decides to take another stout swing, I think Twitter will have to settle for being cool.