New friendfeed: Twitter that moves? Facebook filtering before Facebook?

Techcrunch has it up. Go see the new version. It’s wild.

More details coming shortly.

What I like about it:

Display is quite different, it no longer shows icons of aggregated services but instead looks more like Twitter.

Real-time. It’s all realtime.

You can direct message people who are following you.

There’s greatly improved filtering and searching.

There’s now a profile page.

You can now remove people’s entries from filtered display with Gmail like operators.

They’ve rethought the friendfeed rooms and made them more useful.

There’s a simplified API coming.

You can subscribe to likes and comments separately now as feeds.

I have videos of the friendfeed announcements that are uploading now. They will be up by noon at

UPDATE: Thomas Hawk has his review up here. The new version will be up on soon (within minutes).

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.

Big shifts in microblog/social networking world

What a week in the microblog world.

First Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had a ton of really nasty articles written about him after his CFO left and was replaced. My take? Zuck got the service to 200 million and he’s one of the smartest businesspeople I’ve met. He’s also young and has definite ideas of where he’d like to take Facebook. He also has investors that he has to listen to at least a little bit. Add all that up and it’s a spot I’m glad I’m not in. That said Zuckerberg and crew are so close to the gold that their metal detectors must be going nuts. Now they have to execute and get show us how they are going to add businesses to the social graph and also how they are going to build public entities so that they can take the hype away from Twitter. If they get those two done, they’ll cash in big time. But those are two big ifs, especially if there are major management troubles like what some of the bloggers are sensing.

The second big shift this week was Mike Arrington’s reporting that Twitter is in talks with Google to be sold for a quarter billion dollars. First, disclosure: I really don’t like Twitter’s management team. I think they have more problems than Zuckerberg. They treat their community even worse than Facebook does. Their technology has been horrid (and still has major problems, when I refresh Twitter 100 times I see a Fail Whale at least five times, if not more). But, no one can argue the fact that Twitter has gotten more PR in the past 30 days than any other company I can remember getting in the past year. Everytime I turn on TV or Radio lately I hear “we just Tweeted.” That alone is worth a ton and they deserve to be compensated for yet again building a great brand. Why does Google want Twitter? Easy, search features. How did I learn about the Chinese earthquake? Well, that was by accident (I was the first American to tell someone else about the earthquake) because I follow so many people. But what did I do after that? I went to and started watching what everyone was saying about the earthquake. Today tons of people do that or use tools like Twhirl and Tweetdeck to do those searches.

Lots of my friends think that this search behavior will let Microsoft get back into the search game if Microsoft bought Twitter. Heck, Todd Bishop just wrote that too. Unfortunately Steve Ballmer doesn’t understand Twitter (he isn’t on it and probably thinks that’s yet another stupid thing that Scoble uses) so he probably won’t see the value here. Ballmer has done a horrid job at getting Microsoft into the search game, so I’ll be shocked if he wakes up and buys Twitter. Of course just by saying that I probably made Ev and Biz a few hundred million dollars more — if Microsoft and Google get into a bidding war valuations on Twitter could go up to a billion or more. Pretty rich territory for a service that has only 10 million users in the United States.

The third shift? It actually is coming on Monday as friendfeed brings out a completely new UI. I saw it last night and I’m still stunned (mostly in a good way, but change is always exhausting). I’m not sure I’ll like it all, but you’ll definitely want to watch the video I shot of the press conference and I will have a LOT more to say on this on Monday morning. I’m under embargo until Monday, but the video is long and they go into tons of details about the new UI and their business.

What a week in social networking/microblogging. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Tumblr's CEO brainstorms microblog monetization

I’m working on a column for Fast Company Magazine about how microblogging companies like FriendFeed, Twitter, and Tumblr might make money. Here’s a little sneak peek based on a conversation I had today with Tumblr founder/CEO David Karp.

First, we didn’t focus on just advertising. Tumblr is joining media sharing sites Flickr and SmugMug into charging its users for stuff. People in the industry call that the “freemium” model. Give away one version, but charge for more features. Like what Flickr does. SmugMug goes further and just plain charges, but it’s worth it for what you get, which is why they have tons of happy users who pay.

“Hopefully this stuff will be slick enough that people will appreciate it,” Karp told me, saying he thinks people will pay to use Tumblr’s cooler features.

But that stuff is already known, along with the standard old advertising model. Let’s talk some bleeding edge stuff and can it be applied to Twitter? (I might drop in on Twitter tomorrow unannounced to see what I can learn about their monetization features).

He’s motivated by what he saw happen on Facebook. “Ben and Jerry distributed free little items,” Karp said. “It was the social gesture.”

The social gesture? Yeah, by passing you something cool, people appreciated that and either passed back something else that was cool, or passed it onto all their friends.

“This ad is really an endorsement,” he told me. It was a way for people to tell their friends that Ben and Jerry’s is a cool brand and this is a cool thing to play with.

Then we talked about Tumblr. Already in my little brush with Tumblr’s lead developer I saw a real-world demonstration of how this works. He claimed he didn’t read me, because he doesn’t find my content useful. But within 20 minutes of me posting that he had updated his post saying he saw it. How did THAT happen? Someone sent it to him on Facebook.

And, over on Tumblr, I was able to reblog his post to my own Tumblr, which caused a little note to show up on his original post.

The whole thing is viral and takes advantage of our egos.

Now take the kind of advertising that Tumblr could do in the future. Ones where by interacting with the ad you cause things to happen. Click a “I drink Coke” ad, for instance, and your avatar could change to include a Coke icon.

These kinds of interactive advertisements that share your social guestures are a lot cooler than banner ads, Karp told me. He said that these features, which include reblogging, are a “more refined version of trackback and pingback.”

Other things?

The standard blogger deals where someone blogs for a year, builds up an audience, and gets a book deal, caught his eye. So did the College Humor site, which became popular on Tumblr. They got noticed, Karp told me, got the attention of the Web and turned that into a TV show.

How about donations?

Tumblr has been a partner of Tipjoy’s for a while. “You can give a blogger a buck when they make a neat post,” Karp told me.

Search and destination?

When you search on Twitter Search, for instance, you are presented with a bunch of users who have left Tweets. What if users who paid $5 a month could have color icons while everyone else has black and white? Or, a purple star next to their name? Think that’s not important? Right now Flickr is reminding me that I haven’t paid up because my name doesn’t have “pro” next to it, like Thomas Hawk’s does. Makes me look lame.

But, if you are searching for something, like what people are saying about ski resorts in Tahoe, because you want to see the snow conditions or something like that, doesn’t that open yourself up to a new kind of advertising? Sure it does. Google taught us that. But social networks can go a lot further because they can show you information from your friends. My ex-boss was asking just that on Twitter tonight to see if he should take his family to Tahoe this weekend. Imagine if Northstar sent him a note saying “hey, your friend Mike was just up here, check out his photos.” What else could be done in search to bring more visibility to certain posts, or companies? Lots, Karp told me.

How about a public directory where you can only see people who paid $5 a month? He thinks such a thing would be very popular because bloggers want to be found and other people want new kinds of filtering to find the serious users of a system and what’s better than knowing someone paid a little money for a listing?

Now, what about the users?

So far we covered how Tumblr or Twitter or FriendFeed might make money. But what about the users? Do they want to just blog for free, or do they want to try to make a living. And make a living without selling their editorial down the river?

How do users share in all this and can the best users make enough to quit their day jobs? Karp told me that most of their traffic comes from the top 40% of their users, so how can he reward them? He has some ideas on that too, but that’ll have to wait for future interviews and the article.

What innovative ways do you think Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, and Tumblr will be able to make money?

Oh, and if you work at a microblogging company, I’d love to talk to you about this stuff.