I know, as per Steven Hodson and Adam Singer, we’re all forbidden from ever, ever, ever talking about Twitter’s lack of a business plan ever again, but I had an interesting conversation with Michael from nicefishfilms today where it came up, and as we spoke, I came to a realization about Twitter.
They don’t know what they’re doing, at least they don’t know what they’re going to do to make money. They believe they’re sitting on assets worth billions, no doubt, and we’ve been reassured that there is a plan for profitability many times (at least I’ve been witness to several reassurances both from Biz in various comments on my blog posts as well as in posts from investor Fred at his blog).
I think, though, they’re paralyzed with indecision. Every choice they could make is fraught with downfalls and backlashes.
This is backed up by the post on the Twitter company blog I saw this evening:
We’ve been thinking out loud for more than a year about the growing use of Twitter by companies, brands, and other commercial organizations. It’s great that both individuals and organizations are finding value in Twitter and there may be ways we can enrich the experience. In fact, we hope to begin iterating on revenue products this year.
However, it’s important to note that whatever we come up with, Twitter will remain free to use by everyone—individuals, companies, celebrities, etc.
They keep re-emphasizing the free side of things, and it’s this attitude that paralyzes them. They know that their first move will have a strong bearing in shaping how the service is seen from there on out, and they don’t want to spoil the image of free.
Not to bring this post around to something self-serving, but they need a guy like me there (as I suggested several weeks ago). They need someone unafraid to suggest and implement seemingly unpopular decisions (like Magpie). It doesn’t have to be one particular solution, either. They could attack it from multiple angles (the paid celeb angle Pete advanced this weekend is growing on me).
It probably won’t be me – but it needs to be someone who’s unafraid. Someone who doesn’t cower every time someone pledges to unfollow all Twitterers with ads. Someone who isn’t as emotionally invested in Twitter’s image as the rest of the team. Otherwise we’ll still be writing these types of posts five years from now while we’re still wondering how the heck Twitter keeps getting VC.
As per my previous article on the topic, an invoice for this article will be sent to Twitter at the end of the month. :-p