Biz Stone Talks About Driving Revenue For Twitter

    June 23, 2009

With Facebook talking about reaching their lofty revenue goals for 2009 you would have to suspect that Twitter has to address the issue as well. Bloomberg reports today that Twitter is planning to show revenue in 2009 from clients like Dell, Whole Foods and Starbucks. This is coming from Biz Stone himself but when it comes to the details, well, let’s just say they fall well short of the 140 character limit.

“The idea is if they are getting value out of Twitter then we could add more value to what they are doing and we could get some revenue,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said in an interview today. “We think we’ll get to something this year, however simple, that shows we’re making some money.” He declined to give sales estimates for this year.

Not exactly the kind of words that you hang your hat on so to speak. Twitter is as much a lesson in hype as it is a lesson in the next level of social media. Sounds negative? Well, what do you believe anymore? If any other company did this “We’ll have revenue maybe, kinda, sorta” dance they would be pushed to the curb. Twitter gets a pass on these things because there isn’t much else to talk about apparently.

Stone himself realizes that the window of opportunity could go away at just about any time.

When asked how long the hype around Twitter could last, Stone said he’s realistic about Internet trends.

“This kind of stuff doesn’t last forever and you have to have a healthy attitude toward it. Far be it from me to say when it would end, that would be a total guess.”

Predicting Internet trends and the “time to live” on Twitter’s ability to capitalize on revenue opportunities apparently fall into the same category of being a total guess. His descriptions of how the Twitter bird would line it’s nest in San Francisco with cash is just as open ended.

The San Francisco-based service could make money by verifying Twitter accounts, said Stone, so users “following” brands would know it was really Whole Foods or Coca-Cola Co. sending Tweets, or instant messages that can be 140 characters long. Twitter could also offer statistics to businesses detailing how effective their Tweets are and offer multiple accounts to large businesses with many branches, he said.

I think people are ready to hear something a little more definitive than Twitter ‘could’ do this or that to make money. There is no denying that many are using the service as part of their marketing mix but how much does a company invest in putting together programs with a company’s service that is not making any money and appears to have no real plan to get there?

In addition, Stone sounded resolute in the area of acquisitions. The direct quote is that “We’re not having those acquisition discussions, we’re not engaging in them.” OK, that one seems pretty plain and direct. So if that is the case where is the money going to come from to continue growth or to just make sure that the infrastructure doesn’t break under the weight of the new users coming on board?

Ok, so let’s take off the gloves. What is the best way to monetize Twitter? Is real time search a real time possibility? Unless it was left out of the original article there was no mention from Stone about the thing that many feel could make Twitter a juggernaut. Are they able to deliver on that or are they just trying to redirect attention to other options because search isn’t quite there yet? Will companies pay for enhanced services? Is this all just chasing after the latest and greatest rumored ‘can’t miss’ Internet service? Do tell.