A Gold Rush For Twitter Squatters?

    October 30, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

There’s no good way to mashup the words Twitter and squatting into anything new and cutesy (a la Twellow, Tweeple, Twapper); the two just don’t mesh well. The proposed rush to secure your or your brand’s Twitter ID to guard against Twitter-squatting might not mesh well to you, either.

But I made sure to register mine (my pen name) anyway, just in case. Very likely, NetworkWorld’s Richard Stiennon’s imagination borders on remotest possibilities transformed into full-on inevitability, but he’s right there’s no harm in it and speculation costs nothing.
A Gold Rush For Twitter Squatters?
Stiennon’s benchmark for mainstreaming a website is coverage in the Wall Street Journal, and Twitter’s profiling in the paper occurred a couple of days ago, well after CNN and the New York Times’s coverage, complete with an unfortunately timed photo of recently booted CEO Jack Dorsey.

“By my measure,” wrote Stiennon, “whenever a new internet phenomenon is noticed by the Wall Street Journal it is about six months until it gets purchased for an astronomical sum.” His money’s on Google.

Would love to see some data to back up the Wall Street Journal theory, but it has the ring of, well, something that could be true. For certain, Evan Williams and Biz Stone are still old-cafeteria buddies with some well-known Google personalities, dining these days with fewer choices at the Googleplex as the company tightens its belt. That tightening belt makes me wonder about potential “astronomical acquisitions.” As squirrelly as the market has been lately it might be time to pull up the old drawbridge and guard what you got.

Regardless (T-minus six months and counting on that WSJ road to acquisition theory), as Stiennon recommends securing your brand’s Twitter ID, he chronicles what appears to be some heavy Twitter ID speculating: Twitter.com/whatevers are disappearing quickly. Letters, and words like wow, war, warcraft, Coke, Pepsi, and Nike are already swallowed up, who knows if by the companies who own those brands.

Now might be a time to grab some potentially valuable Twitter handles, since the cost is nil, unless one sweats potential lawsuits, which are feasible. What would a Twitter ID be worth? My guess is not as much as a domain name, and assigning value would certainly be uncharted waters. Rocketboom’s Andrew Baron very nearly auctioned off his account and followers to parties more interested in marketing to (spamming) that group of people than making anything meaningful from it. Hence why Baron stopped the sale. At the time, a dollar per follower seemed (somehow) reasonable. 

But a brand name Twitter ID? Maybe. Exxon wasn’t thrilled about having its brand hijacked by a fan/do-gooder posing as a PR flak. And maybe if some famous person who missed the boat on Twitter and finds himself suddenly impersonated would rather buy the Twitter ID rather than sue for it.

Who knows?