The worst thing for Twitter

Yes, Twitter is in talks to be bought by Google, but is that the worst thing that would happen to Twitter?

No, even though it’s funny to note that designer Douglas Bowman just left Google a week ago to go to work for Twitter (and did so with a public “I’m pissed and I’m leaving” letter — I guess he’ll be asked to clean toilets for a few weeks if he gets bought back into Google).

Remember, Google is the company that bought Jaiku and then did nothing with it. It’s the company that bought Dodgeball (a company that had a service very similar to Twitter that was out before Twitter). And did nothing with it (the founders of that company also wrote a “we’re leaving” letter to Google.)

Are you noticing a trend here yet? Google sucks at microblogging/social networking and I don’t believe that Google has actually changed at all. The best predictor of future results is past behavior.

So, if Twitter goes to Google there’s a great chance that it’ll be screwed up.

But, there’s something even worse awaiting it: if Twitter gets purchased by Microsoft. Or worse, Adobe or Oracle or IBM.

Why? These companies understand even less of what’s going on in the social networking space than Google does. At least Google is trying and failing. But Google makes great mobile apps and Google understands how to scale things that need scale. I can also see how Google would integrate Twitter search into its search pages.

Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn’t deserve to get Twitter. Microsoft has totally screwed up its online branding and search. It’s pretty incompetent in those areas and has been for years. Yeah, I know that Microsoft has thousands of employees who’ll call me names on their blogs and yeah I know that Microsoft has thousands of fans, er, MVPs, who’ll tell you at length why I’m wrong.

But when I go around SXSW or Gnomedex or Northern Voice and ask people what they use from Microsoft I get blank stares. Microsoft has lost the Internet generation because they simply have not done anything interesting. Spending another $100 million on advertising is not going to change that.

Heck, they should stop the advertising, use the $100 million to get Twitter’s attention and buy it. But that’s what Microsoft would do if it had real Internet leadership that understood just how important Twitter’s search feature will be to getting Microsoft noticed in the search game.

Here: what will work better to get more people to feel good about Microsoft? Spending $100 million on TV ads? Or using that money to buy Twitter?

No brainer for me.

But here’s the problem: I don’t believe Microsoft wants to get the Internet. So, if Microsoft DID wake up and buy Twitter it would be a horrid place for Twitter to be. It would stagnate even worse there than it would at Google.

Which is why, even though I don’t like Twitter’s management team that much, I’m hoping that they sell to Google instead of Microsoft. At least then it has a chance of success, Google’s poor track record in this area notwithstanding.

88 thoughts on “The worst thing for Twitter

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  2. I truely belive twitter should try and remain independent for the time being. It's just starting to filter into the mainstream and it's uses are just starting to be fully explored. I can't think of any company that could buy twitter and not screw it up.

  3. At least Google is trying and failing. But Google makes great mobile apps and Google understands how to scale things that need scale. I Love you Google

  4. I am a Microsoft employee and no am not going to call you names on my blog because you are making great points. Up until now I think we have shown under our ew leadership that we are putting together some broad impressive instrature pieces to the puzzle in place for the new netcentric/cloud driven world. What we havent to date shown is a good grasp of user experience and social computing in the Internet facing world. I do think we are making strides in the Enterprise realm that will be fruit for years to come but that is a different animal and to date we have not executed well Internet so no name calling here. You raise valid points that desrve raising. With the present contraction in the economy I think we will see a periosd of consolidation in the SocialMedia space and the. With Seach, video, and RSS redistribution already pretty much sewn up the remaining 2 areas really are social/comummunity and microblogging with Twitter and Facebook as the prime properties. Where they land, and it is only a matter f time before they land somewhere, will be interesting to see as they offer IMHO the last two really big ad revenue growth areas (when integrated in to a search and ads strategy) for next 3-5 years.

  5. I am a Microsoft employee and no am not going to call you names on my blog because you are making great points. Up until now I think we have shown under our ew leadership that we are putting together some broad impressive instrature pieces to the puzzle in place for the new netcentric/cloud driven world. What we havent to date shown is a good grasp of user experience and social computing in the Internet facing world. I do think we are making strides in the Enterprise realm that will be fruit for years to come but that is a different animal and to date we have not executed well Internet so no name calling here. You raise valid points that desrve raising. With the present contraction in the economy I think we will see a periosd of consolidation in the SocialMedia space and the. With Seach, video, and RSS redistribution already pretty much sewn up the remaining 2 areas really are social/comummunity and microblogging with Twitter and Facebook as the prime properties. Where they land, and it is only a matter f time before they land somewhere, will be interesting to see as they offer IMHO the last two really big ad revenue growth areas (when integrated in to a search and ads strategy) for next 3-5 years.

  6. I think Twitter have enough cash left to burn to keep everyone at bay for another year at least. They’s be fools to sell at this stage.

    It’s very likely of Google did buy, it would screw things up, but I think there is too large a universe of developers and users who really love Twitter for that to go too far.

    Twitter should I think just sell itself to its own users with an IPO. A micro-buy out, a real net democracy with one share per opted-in user, so nobody could mess with it without messing with everybody.

  7. I think Twitter have enough cash left to burn to keep everyone at bay for another year at least. They’s be fools to sell at this stage.

    It’s very likely of Google did buy, it would screw things up, but I think there is too large a universe of developers and users who really love Twitter for that to go too far.

    Twitter should I think just sell itself to its own users with an IPO. A micro-buy out, a real net democracy with one share per opted-in user, so nobody could mess with it without messing with everybody.

  8. Someone mentioned blogger in the above comments and that’s good because its the piece of understanding that twitter is now in the Google rinse cycle and it takes about a year, we are half through already;) Blogger founders sold to Google and went on to create Blogger’s mini me, glitter in secret, twitter to you. Biz Stone freshed up blogspot for relaunch as Blogger for Google in 2004 and became a twitter co=founder. Did you wonder why current blogger and twitter both share elitism, fan, follower, numbers, suggested tweeters? Wonder no further. In early 2009 designer Bowman comes over from Google with the fanfare of a burning bridge letter to freshen up Twitter for who? At least take delight in the 5 year cycle of Gloggerism or Glitterism, hmm I think we should all sit down and have a nice long chat about which came first the chicken or the egg, how about you?

  9. Someone mentioned blogger in the above comments and that’s good because its the piece of understanding that twitter is now in the Google rinse cycle and it takes about a year, we are half through already;) Blogger founders sold to Google and went on to create Blogger’s mini me, glitter in secret, twitter to you. Biz Stone freshed up blogspot for relaunch as Blogger for Google in 2004 and became a twitter co=founder. Did you wonder why current blogger and twitter both share elitism, fan, follower, numbers, suggested tweeters? Wonder no further. In early 2009 designer Bowman comes over from Google with the fanfare of a burning bridge letter to freshen up Twitter for who? At least take delight in the 5 year cycle of Gloggerism or Glitterism, hmm I think we should all sit down and have a nice long chat about which came first the chicken or the egg, how about you?

  10. Er, Scoble you got me. I wasn’t going to jump on your bait but it’s Friday night and I’m slipping.

    As I’m sitting here using google as my search engine, as the default search provider in IE, as the means to search support.microsoft.com because the native search on those pages, sucks, and the last time I used Live Search was just to give it an honest try and then go back to google, no I will not tell you at length why you are wrong about Microsoft except for one important thing.

    I am a MVP, but in reality I’m just a customer who gets to try to change things a little bit from the inside.

    While there may be some with the MVP logo that are fan boys that will tell you at length while you are wrong, I’m still here representing the customer of Microsoft to Microsoft. I’m just a teeny bit disappointed that you just had to get that MVP jab in. The post was valid without it you know. I’m a teeny bit disappointed that you got me posting on it.

    Some of us oldtimers still say that we can do more yelling from the inside than we can yelling on the outside.

    And yes, Live search still sucks.

    And I’m still yelling.

  11. Er, Scoble you got me. I wasn’t going to jump on your bait but it’s Friday night and I’m slipping.

    As I’m sitting here using google as my search engine, as the default search provider in IE, as the means to search support.microsoft.com because the native search on those pages, sucks, and the last time I used Live Search was just to give it an honest try and then go back to google, no I will not tell you at length why you are wrong about Microsoft except for one important thing.

    I am a MVP, but in reality I’m just a customer who gets to try to change things a little bit from the inside.

    While there may be some with the MVP logo that are fan boys that will tell you at length while you are wrong, I’m still here representing the customer of Microsoft to Microsoft. I’m just a teeny bit disappointed that you just had to get that MVP jab in. The post was valid without it you know. I’m a teeny bit disappointed that you got me posting on it.

    Some of us oldtimers still say that we can do more yelling from the inside than we can yelling on the outside.

    And yes, Live search still sucks.

    And I’m still yelling.

  12. Twitter with google ads, I can already see it. Sad. Sure, the combined google/blog/twitter search would be great but google’s mission is always ad revenue.

  13. Twitter with google ads, I can already see it. Sad. Sure, the combined google/blog/twitter search would be great but google’s mission is always ad revenue.

  14. The one thing Twitter has that Google wants is access to data and Twitter has plenty of it. Buy the company and harness that data even more.

    Done deal, thanks very much. There’s a lot of brand sentiment on it. Google aren’t buying a microblogging platform, they are buying (if they do) a very large user base and data store of brands, emotions and potential advertising revenue.

  15. The one thing Twitter has that Google wants is access to data and Twitter has plenty of it. Buy the company and harness that data even more.

    Done deal, thanks very much. There’s a lot of brand sentiment on it. Google aren’t buying a microblogging platform, they are buying (if they do) a very large user base and data store of brands, emotions and potential advertising revenue.

  16. Seriously WTF are you trying to say? Twitter’s management aint good. Google will screw/kill twitter if they buy it and Microsoft has no idea about online world so shouldnt buy it either? Whats your point, seriously?

    Quickly going through your blogs once every 2-3 weeks or so makes me laugh at you. You keep swaying back n forth between what you like and what you dont. You are a “tech blogger” and not so technical at that.
    I would strongly recommend that you stick to interviews, review websites at a very high level, as a user who can write without going into details. Your hollowness shows out otherwise.

    roblem with most of the current tech-blogs is that:
    1. They arent written by good solid engineers
    2. Website reviewers review Operating systems – they should stop it. They can talk about usability but not design isues.
    3. Realize that they are paid workers, just like the engineers in Google and Microsoft. If they can think big and have strong ideas – they would be successfull enterpreneurs … they will not work for a couple of hundred thousand dollars for a random company.
    4. STick to what you think and write your blogs that way. Saying company A doesnt know what it is doing, knows nothing about the users is pure CR@P.
    Its arm chairish.

  17. Seriously WTF are you trying to say? Twitter’s management aint good. Google will screw/kill twitter if they buy it and Microsoft has no idea about online world so shouldnt buy it either? Whats your point, seriously?

    Quickly going through your blogs once every 2-3 weeks or so makes me laugh at you. You keep swaying back n forth between what you like and what you dont. You are a “tech blogger” and not so technical at that.
    I would strongly recommend that you stick to interviews, review websites at a very high level, as a user who can write without going into details. Your hollowness shows out otherwise.

    roblem with most of the current tech-blogs is that:
    1. They arent written by good solid engineers
    2. Website reviewers review Operating systems – they should stop it. They can talk about usability but not design isues.
    3. Realize that they are paid workers, just like the engineers in Google and Microsoft. If they can think big and have strong ideas – they would be successfull enterpreneurs … they will not work for a couple of hundred thousand dollars for a random company.
    4. STick to what you think and write your blogs that way. Saying company A doesnt know what it is doing, knows nothing about the users is pure CR@P.
    Its arm chairish.

  18. M$ tried to kill the web for ten years and now is trying to catch up. I’d say too late, there is no money in the world that can reverse all the damage they’ve done to the web.

    RIP M$

  19. M$ tried to kill the web for ten years and now is trying to catch up. I’d say too late, there is no money in the world that can reverse all the damage they’ve done to the web.

    RIP M$

  20. Don’t forget, Google bought Grandcentral.com, a service I loved and has not done a single thing with it. You make some good points in this post. $

  21. Don’t forget, Google bought Grandcentral.com, a service I loved and has not done a single thing with it. You make some good points in this post. $

  22. Wow what a great rant.

    Question is will anyone Google for instance by Twitter as the center of Micro-blogging and then incorporate that with a micro-commenting platform like you use with Friendfeed and then find a better way to incorporate search. I hate having to go to three places to do all this at once.

    Please someone incorporate Twitterness with Friendfeedness with Twitcoop

  23. Wow what a great rant.

    Question is will anyone Google for instance by Twitter as the center of Micro-blogging and then incorporate that with a micro-commenting platform like you use with Friendfeed and then find a better way to incorporate search. I hate having to go to three places to do all this at once.

    Please someone incorporate Twitterness with Friendfeedness with Twitcoop

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