Tag Archives: twitter

Not Quite Dead, but at least Diminishing

Death of the Free Web | Cap Watkins: “I’ve actually been noticing this transition in SV for the past year or so. More and more startups are focusing on revenue right out of the gate. The old way of trying to build gigantic user-bases and then sell their eyeballs to advertisers is falling by the wayside. There are certainly still exceptions, but right now they are just that – exceptions. Seeing a startup go after paying customers used to be like catching a glimpse of a unicorn. Now, it’s the status quo. But why?”

(Via. capwatkins.com)

Great piece here by Cap Watkins. Be sure to read it in full at the above link.

Sooo glad to see this trend. This whole Silicon Valley disease of fooling people into thinking everything in life should be free has been driving me nuts for decades. 

But the free web won’t die, unfortunately. It’s like a zombie–keeps rising up from time to time no matter how much you try and kill it. I have no doubt that this ad-supported nonsense will come back around. It cycles. It’s just too tempting for the handfuls of people who stand to get rich from the advertising model, and they’re very good bullshit artists. But the current cycle is winding down on ads, at least, and that makes me happy, at least for another year or two. 

As I keep joking, I’m looking forward to the traffic and rent prices coming back down to reasonable levels here in the Bay Area soon.

We’re discovering that you can’t create that sort of passion with free.

His example of Uber cab is an excellent one. Services that set out to solve a real-world problem don’t need to be free. People throw money at trying to solve problems all the time. And they’re happy to do so. And they become very loyal to services they pay for, in a way that they’ll never be loyal to Facebook or Twitter. Uber, Zipcar, Kickstarter, Square. These are the startups of today, and hopefully tomorrow.

Wall Street’s Harsh View of Facebook

Why Wall Street unfriended Facebook – The Globe and Mail: “Welcome to the tech industry’s summer of sober second-thought. For an unusually large number of Web and social media darlings, these past few months have been a harsh lesson in how quickly the stock market can turn nasty.”

(Via. The Globe and Mail)

Repeat after me: Ads cannot fund giant companies indefinitely. Eventually, the advertisers always figure out that their ad buys are essentially worthless, and they all pull out, rendering the service unsustainable. They move on to the next big unsustainable idea.

You can tell this is about to happen whenever web sites start pushing more and more intrusive ads into your face. It’s blatant desperation. 

We’ve seen this before; we’ll probably see it many more times in the coming decades. 

The only surprise here is that someone as smart as Zuckerberg hasn’t found more value in all that other data he has. If ads are the most creative thing he can come up with for funding Facebook, the company isn’t going to have a bright future. He should be playing way past this by now. 

As suggested by this article, ads don’t even make much sense within the context of Facebook. Zuckerberg designed the entire experience around staying within the walls of Facebook 24/7. Ads, by default, are effective only if they let you leave the site you’re on and go to the advertiser’s page. 

And Twitter, just getting into the ad game now? You’re about three years too late. 

Wall Street is going to be more harsh this time around, because so many investors got seriously burned by tech during the dot com craze. There’s a lot of bad blood still flowing over that fiasco. Which is why tech companies that actually have a solid future like Apple trade way below what they should. 

A Facebook stumble, followed by a hard Twitter fall, may depress the entire tech sector for several years, even if we don’t have a large-scale crash like before. 

My One-and-a-half Cents on App.net

I keep hearing around the web from people I respect that App.net is cool, but that it won’t survive unless it hits critical mass. That social networks in general have to have millions and millions of users, or they don’t work. 

The reason people believe this is that just about every social network up to this point has been financed by advertising (or not financed at all). If you want to run a service on ads, you need as many eyeballs as possible to cover your nut. 

But App.net is charging users a yearly fee. $50 a year, at the moment, to become a member. While I imagine this price will go down over the coming months to open the net a little wider and attract some more users, I disagree with Marco Arment and many other prominent bloggers that it has to drop down to $10 or less a year in order to be successful. 

Of the millions and millions of people on Twitter, how many do you follow? Currently, I’m following 231. And that’s already too many for me to keep up with every day. If App.net gets a couple hundred thousand users, even, who are paying a premium for the service and therefore are more likely to be using it for thoughtful conversation, rather than spewing nonsense, I think I’ll be able to find 231 people who produce content worth reading every day. 

So who cares if Ashton Kutcher ever joins App.net? We have Stephen Fry already, and that’s a thousand times better. The mass of dreck that’s becoming harder and harder to avoid on Twitter is exactly the reason why App.net needs to exist. If the goal were to become a Twitter clone, App.net stands no chance of surviving at any price. $1 a year is still more expensive than free.

If you’re going to charge money when all of your competitors are free, why not go all out and charge $25 or $30? You’ve already lost the cheapskates. Focus on people who value a good product.

As far as I’m concerned, the only thing App.net needs is a decent crop of iOS, Mac, and Android apps (which are already on the way), and a new name. For everything else, they’re doing just fine.

To paraphrase Steve Jobs, for App.net to win, Twitter doesn’t have to lose. 

That’s not to say that this experiment will definitely work out in the long run. I’m just saying that charging money and trying to maximize eyeballs are incompatible strategies at this point. 

More ads coming to Twitter (as if we didn’t see that coming)

Our relationship with the web is going to be undergoing a fundamental shift over the next decade, I suspect, because it has to undergo a shift. Historically, we’ve paid for television, movies, books, and magazines, and in many cases we pay for those things even when they contain ads—and we pay a premium for magazines and TV shows that are ad-free. But apparently we believe that when you Just Add Internet, only greedy people would keep asking for money, because everything is subsidized by magical money-shitting ponies.

I’m fine with services that either present ads or have a subscription fee for no ads. I’m even fine with services that have a fee AND have ads. I can choose to buy into these services or not.

What I can’t stand is the Silicon Valley startup mentality of “get lots of users and then figure out how to make money on them later.”

It’s not like Twitter didn’t know the time would come when it needed to make money from its users. It’s just a little bit sleazy to lure people into a free ride, only to pull the rug out from under them later with ads. That’s what will piss off the users. Not the money. The lie.

I understand this is M.O for most of the Internet. But THAT’s the thing that needs to change. This notion that you should get popular first, then profitable second. The idea that once people are hooked on something, they’ll start paying because they have to. It’s bad business.

Reality Check: # of Accounts does not equal # of members, Twitter

Twitter will get to a billion members,” Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and former chief executive officer, said Monday, echoing a goal set by Facebook. Williams didn’t elaborate on a time frame.

There are roughly 7 billion people on the planet. 1in 7 can’t possibly have Twitter accounts.

What Twitter will have soon is 1 billion accounts, which is not the same thing. I have two Twitter accounts. I know some people who have three or more.

Not saying 1 billion accounts isn’t impressive. But let’s be realistic here. And news outlets, how about pointing out obvious facts like this, rather than running Twitter’s spin machine verbatim.

Twitter gives the lowdown on its new business model | Social Media | Macworld

There will be two “pillars” to Twitter’s business model, Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo said at the company’s Chirp developer conference in San Francisco. The first, announced earlier this week, is Promoted Tweets, which lets advertisers pay for sponsored tweets that appear at the top of search results for certain keywords.

I don’t know. Seems like the classic old “bait and switch” to me. Very few companies have gotten away with giving a service away for free, and then suddenly changing it to either a paid service, or an ad-based service. It seems like they are going about it carefully, only adding ads for search results so far, but it’s only a matter of time before we all start seeing ads in all our feeds. It’s a slippery slope, and some people are bound to reject this idea.

I wonder if Twitter plans on adding ads to Tweetie, now that it has purchased the app from Atebits. I sure hope not.

The only question is what other free service will step in and take those disgruntled users from Twitter? I can hear the wheels spinning in garages all over the Silicon Valley right now.

Commercial accounts could work, provided that companies can get people to follow them. At least if the ads are “opt-in”, users won’t be so quick to feel betrayed.

This is the classic Internet Startup problem all over again. We really haven’t learned anything from the original Dot Com bubble burst.

Is there really no room left in the world for a company that simply charges a fair price for its services from the get go?