‘Acquired By Twitter’ – Why Is Twitter Buying Start Ups?

Over the past year or so a common theme seems to be emerging. Start up social enterprise begins to find its legs, builds a significant following, and then announces they’ve been ‘acquired by Twitter’. Here are the biggest ones:


This all seems to tie in with Twitter’s plans to start actually making money. While it has been claimed that Twitter were losing money in 2010 and 2011, leaked figures suggest that they aim to generate £400 million revenue in 2012 (still not very much compared to Facebook).


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In some cases Twitter has removed products, in others it has discontinued updates but left them going and in rare instances such as TweetDeck they have taken the product itself on board to develop. So who are these teams that Twitter has decided to take on board?So, Twitter have decided to ‘acquire’ some of the best teams and products from around the world.


What is Backtype?


Backtype developed Backtweet – a tool for checking who has tweeted your links. It is useful because Twitter, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck tend to miss a lot of them.

The basic tool allows anybody to input a link and check tweets but Backtype also offered a commercial product for more in-depth Twitter engagement analysis.

Why Acquire Backtype?

Backtype will be useful to Twitter because of their proficiency in building analytics and engagement tools for Twitter and other networks. Twitter will be able to use these themselves in future developments to provide a better service.

What will happen to Backtype?

The Backtype team are moving entirely to Twitter along with their products and technology. They will continue to build products in conjunction with Twitter.

Backtweet will remain available for use but won’t be updated and Backtype’s products and API services will be discontinued.

Fans have responded well, congratulating the team on a big move forward. In this case, the tale of a small team joining the big leagues is seen as a success story and hasn’t upset users too much.


What is Posterous?

posterous-logoPosterous is a social sharing platform where users own ‘spaces’. These can be controlled as they like for posting text, images and videos. Almost identical to Tumblr.

Why Acquire Posterous

While a lot of people say services like Tumblr and Posterous are not direct competitors to Twitter, they are possibly the closest thing to the micro-blogging platform. This may indicate that Twitter is hoping to improve the look of its service as the scope for images and videos is fairly limited.

It will be interesting to see if Twitter will attempt to compete with the popular visual social networks like Pinterest, that have bloomed in 2012.

Posterous has also been hailed by its users as a great product, so Twitter will be keen to bring in some new talent to work on future developments.

What will happen to Posterous?

As it stands, Posterous will continue to exist but will not be updated as the team has moved to Twitter.

However, Posterous really emphasise that they will ‘give ample notice before any changes or disruptions to the service’ and also provide instructions on backing up and migrating your content. This gives a strong indication that Twitter will phase out the service in the future.


What is Summify?

summify-logoA summary of your social news feeds. Like a junk filter for your social feeds – only shows you what you want to see from your various social networks and blogs.

Why acquire Summify?

One problem with Twitter that keeps a lot of potential users away is the firehose approach. If you follow more than 10-20 people then it is almost impossible to keep up with anything. Most frequent users just dip in and out – potentially missing important updates or content they want to read.

The acquisition of Summify indicates that Twitter is trying to ‘connect people with the most relevant news for them, in the most efficient manner’ (Summify’s goal).

Summify claim the plan is to bring their social summary service to a global audience.

What will happen to Summify?

According to their FAQ, Summify has disabled new account registrations and drawn back features. They plan to shut down the current product in the new future.

Rather than launch Summify as a Twitter brand the team will be joining Twitter’s Growth team to improve Twitter.


What is TweetDeck?

tweetdeck-logoSocial monitoring and sharing platform similar to Hootsuite. Allows multiple account access and management of other social accounts including Facebook and LinkedIn.

Why Acquire TweetDeck?

TweetDeck is the most popular tool for monitoring and accessing Twitter accounts. That is a big problem for Twitter as they look to monetise their product through ad placement. Ads are placed throughout the Twitter stream as ‘promoted tweets’ – they don’t actually call them ads.

If Twitter do not have control over the most popular way of viewing Twitter streams then they don’t have control over the streams themselves. This makes it less likely that big businesses will pay for ‘promoted tweets’ – they don’t know what the reach will be.

There is also the fact that a lot of people prefer to use services such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite to monitor their social networks instead of Twitter itself. This means there is a flaw in the way Twitter serves its content. The best solution? Buy the tool that everybody uses.

This is by far the biggest acquisition, costing Twitter £25 million.

What will happen to TweetDeck?

Twitter will continue to develop and market TweetDeck as a social tool. They have recently given it a complete makeover with massive updates to the desktop, online, mobile and browser apps. This hasn’t gone down well with all users as many features have been lost, prompting some to move to Hootsuite.

However, it is still the most popular service and will continue to grow as Twitter develops it. Unlike the other product teams who have been shipped to Twitter’s San Francisco base to work on Twitter itself, the TweetDeck team has remained in London to continue developing TweetDeck.

Expect to see TweetDeck becoming progressively more commercial as they announced the acquisition by claiming that ‘TweetDeck will now fill that role for brands, influencers, the highly active and anyone that just needs “more power”.’

Twitter is for personal use, TweetDeck is for social media marketing.

Will these acquisitions pay off for Twitter?

As the recent embarrassing leaks proved, Twitter is losing a lot of money. Through these acquisitions is hopes to improve itself as a service by bringing young blood on board – teams that have proven success bringing social products to market.

However, many industry analysts have pointed out that products like Posterous never made any money themselves, so this may just be another step towards creating a cool product that doesn’t make any money. And that won’t please investors.

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