Friday, February 1, 2008

Biz Stone responds to my Twitter post. So will Steve Ballmer respond to my Microsoft post?

Just in case you didn't catch it in the comments, Biz Stone responded to my post on the January 30-31 #twittout. You'll recall that my earlier post asked the following:

Does Twitter have a customer advisory board that is under non-disclosure and can provide an external evaluation of Twitter's plans, both for scalability and for monetization?

Biz responded. This is what he said:

Thanks for your comments. In fact, Twitter does have a group called "Friends of Twitter" which we run various ideas by--mostly in the form of features or changes to the way Twitter works for feedback. We also have an advisory board--all of which are Twitter users.

We spend a good deal of time reading blogs like yours, we read every email that comes into support, we read the comments on our own blog, and we engage with users directly in our forums at Get Satisfaction. We also have a developers group and a developers blog.

Twitter employees engage personally with our community at meetups (tweetups) locally and when we travel and we make time to speak with people about Twitter whenever we are invited to participate in conferences around the world.

Indeed, we spend a good deal of time listening to what other people are saying and suggesting. So far, I'd say paying attention to feedback from users has been the most important factor in our success.

I couldn't find out a lot about the "Friends of Twitter" (now THAT sounds Clintonesque, but I digress). Of course, due to the nature of the group, you probably SHOULDN'T find out a lot about them. But I found an intriguing reference to "friends of twitter" in some notes taken by Sean Bohan at an April 2007 panel discussion in which Biz Stone was on the panel. It appears that the name of the panel was "Building awesome websites and services using the power of happy users." Here's the relevant excerpt (participants are Ted Rheingold, Josh Schacter, and Biz Stone):

TR - do you have cust part of a special group to go to ?

JS - yahoo group where people sign up and they talk to them - will toss out stuff, ideas, very user facing - try to get diff viewpoints
pretty helpful

active when he was runngn things alone

couple people good thermometers
some who use flickr as utility - will use as blogs - serious amateurs or hobbyist photogs
def certain people to go to
common pattern where people sign up and add a photo or two and dont come back for months
some learn to love it - where the bumps are on that path - take analytic approaches for state of users, 2x week or once every 3 months
really really hard

listening solely to the people who love it

weird or confusing - flickr terminology
ones who are willing to speak already love it

BS - do the analytics too
do a friends of twitter group - who can release a halfbaked feature on for feedback
have an non trad feedback loop

Since this is a Twitter-y post, I'll sneak in something that Dave Winer said when he was talking about Microsoft-Yahoo:

It would make more sense for Twitter to acquire Yahoo. At least then they'd get some servers that could stay up for 24 hours straight....

To those who think Twitter couldn't acquire Yahoo, I might have agreed until we saw NeXT "buy" Apple.

Yet Twitter has not alienated its customers. Pistachio collected some observations about what Twitter means to people. Here are a selected few responses to the fill-in-the-blank "Twitter makes me more _______":

Stowe Boyd stoweboyd @Pistachio “Twitter makes me more messy, and messiness is good.”

Adele McAlear adelemcalear @Pistachio Twitter makes me sharper, at the front of the curve, more concise, connected, informed…

Phillip Zannini phillymac @Pistachio Distracted

Tiara Shafiq divabat @pistachio “…likely to procrastinate.”

Speaking about monetization, TechCrunch uses one source to speculate:

According to one source, the move to Verio wasn’t related to issues with Joyent, but due to a yet to be disclosed investment from Japanese telco NTT, who are also the full owners of Verio. They did not provide the amount of the investment or terms, but they suggested it was finalized at the same time the Digital Garage investment was announced. Apparently it had been a done deal for months prior to that, hence the talk that Twitter had been planning a move away from Joyent for months. The Digital Garage deal was announced January 16, so presuming reasonable preparations before that, 15 days after signing to make the move is a reasonable enough time frame.

Frankly, I'm doubtful. If I had planned such a move for months, I wouldn't be praising my business partner the day before I dumped it.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

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