Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Twitter looks to turn Internet popularity into cash

Word that Internet startup Twitter is looking at ways to make money should come as no surprise -- any of the millions of people who already enjoy the service know it doesn't them anything and there is no advertising. The cash has to come from somewhere. So, Twitter says it is looking for ways to make money from commercial applications of its service, which allows people to send short messages to whomever is also on the service, according to what the company told the Reuters international news service by e-mail. "We think there will be opportunities to provide services to commercial entities that help them get even more value out of Twitter," said Biz Stone, a company co-founder. "If these services are valuable to companies, we think they may want to pay for them." The San Francisco-based startup has boomed in popularity over the past year, logging 7 million unique visitors in February compared with 475,000 in Feb. 2008, Reuters said. Many of the country's -- and the world's -- most powerful political leaders already have Twitter accounts that allow them to connect directly with voters. Of course, it's usually not the actual leader online but one of his or her assistants. But the principle -- reaching your audience without expensive and often misdirected advertising -- is the same. Twitter reportedly turned down a $500 million buyout offer from Facebook last year and is said to be being looked at by Google as a potential acquisition. Twitter is expected to begin rolling out its commercial enhancements sometime this year, Stone told Reuters. But there is a lot of competition in messaging and Twitter will have to be very careful not to kill the golden tweet.

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