Jessica Vascellaro at the Wall Street Journal is breaking the news today that the social media mavens at Twitter.com are raising an additional $100 million in venture capital, giving Twitter a new valuation close to (insert Austin Powers voice here) one billion dollars.
Jessica notes that previous funding valued the company at about 255 million. The new funding round not only confirms that Twitter is now a key major online player but will give them huge resources to continue rapid growth and expansion and perhaps even marketing, although one of Twitter’s brilliancies is that it needs an advertising budget of zero. Twitter is the ultimate “word of mouth” tool for the online generation and everybody from celebrities to businesses are using the tool to create a dialog with fans, customers, and friends. Where Facebook is powerful as a tool for maintaining relationships with friends and family, Twitter is superior as the fast and superficial way to keep in touch, “shout out” a message to the world, and generally manage large networks of customers, friends, conference attendees, etc. There’s room for several social networking tools but I think we’ll see both Facebook and Twitter continue to thrive and grow substantially in the coming years.
As we’ve been noting for some time Twitter represents something of a “perfect online storm” where timing, simplicity, and social media are combined in a way that appeals to both sophisticated and new technology users. The last time we saw this combination of innovation with the technological zeitgeist was Google search, and we all know how that turned out.
Time magazine has a feature about the rise of Twitter as a major growing social routine as well as an impending huge force in American business and culture. Readers here know I’m already in something of an argument here at Technology Report with the most excellent Jeremiah Owyang of Forresters about this topic after his keynote at the Twitter 140 conference suggesting Twitter is simply enjoying the early buzz from a hype cycle that will relegate the service to obscurity soon.
Not so, say I and I think Steven Johnson of Time would agree. He’s summed up an important aspect of Twitter very well:
I think there is something even more profound in what has happened to Twitter over the past two years, something that says more about the culture that has embraced and expanded Twitter at such extraordinary speed. Yes, the breakfast-status updates turned out to be more interesting than we thought. But the key development with Twitter is how we’ve jury-rigged the system to do things that its creators never dreamed of.
In short, the most fascinating thing about Twitter is not what it’s doing to us. It’s what we’re doing to it.
A particularly intriguing aspect of Twitter is that in the purely technical sense it’s not really anything all that spectacular. What makes it special is that it’s changing the way people behave with respect to technology, opening the tech window for many who have been waiting for applications that allow them to express themselves without the bother of blogging, gaming, or interacting with the stereotypical onliners who tend to skew “highly technical” and “young”.
*The two day Twitter event starts Tuesday May 26th*
This is only the second WordCamp San Francisco and promises excellent insider insights from WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and Google’s top blogger Matt Cutts who has been using the WordPress blogging format for several years.
This is the first major Twitter conference *ever* and is sure to bring a lot of interesting people and companies to the Computer Science Museum in Mountain View.
Hope to see you there in person or here at Technology Report’s live coverage of these events.