Twitter has obviously been a hot topic of conversation over the past year or so and seems to be steadily growing in prominence. In fact, we even rolled out a feature in January called TweetIt that makes it easier for our customers to blog about their news. My own personal indicator is that many of my friends who work in non-online industries have joined Twitter and begun to ‘Tweet’, which has lead me to think more seriously about the service.
Last April, Silicon Alley Insider reported that Twitter was seeking Series C funding and its valuation ranged between $60 million and $150 million, which certainly seems interesting to me given that absence of a top line. However, the obvious valuation is in the ad worth of Twitter, although more recently co-founder Biz Stone has been talking about charging corporations for commercial accounts.
The inclusion of ads seems a dubious direction. If they do start injecting ads into the feeds, it seems a matter of time until a differentiated service springs up and a mass user migration takes place a la MySpace to Facebook (albeit I’m sure News Corp still saw a significant ROI on their $500m investment). Even without the injection of ads, it seems a matter of time until the spammers jump on the bandwagon and start diluting whatever value exists in the existing communication.
From my perspective the broader concern is over the qualitative value of communications facilitated through Twitter. I honestly believe that anything over $30-40m seems a bit high based on my belief that a great deal of the communications happening on Twitter are too glib to have any meaningful impact (although I will admit that there are definitely a handful of people who are leveraging the tool in extremely intelligent ways).
Although I believe it does have value as a tool for B2C communications or influencer-to-consumer communications (I2C communications), the general consumer chatter reminds me a bit of a global chatroom where a majority of people who don’t really know one another exchange very brief remarks without a sustained sense of community.
I believe what is missing here is a broadscale study into the behavioral impact of communications facilitated via Twitter. I hope whoever is currently speculating a purchase of Twitter is considering this component.
At any rate, I’d be fascinated to hear what other people have to say about the value of Twitter…
Ryan petersenFebruary 28, 2009
The real moneytizable value of twitter will come from search. It gives you a real time lense into the thoughts of millions of people to find out what is happening right now in our world. As more newspapers fail, it's going to be services like twitter and qik.com that allow citizen journalists to start filling that gap. Twitter will start integrating the search more prominently soon (for now it's tucked away in the footer), and then start running adwords type units against the results. This will through off plenty of cash, and more improtantly from a valuation perspective, force google and microsoft into a bidding war as they struggle for long-term control of the search market. valuation above 1 billion would not shock me, although whoever pays that much is unlikely to see the ROI they need.