Home > Archive >  2008 >  April >  4

Why did Seesmic buy Twhirl?

Friday, April 04, 2008 by Dave Winer.

Yesterday Seesmic announced that they're buying Twhirl, the AIR-based Twitter client. Permalink to this paragraph

I usually don't comment on acquisitions, but this one is right up my alley and I can offer some insight without breaking any confidences. I've been spending a lot of time over the last year trying to understand Twitter, and it's not an easy thing to figure out, so I welcome the chance to discuss it again from another point of view. Permalink to this paragraph

First, a disclaimer, I considered investing in Seesmic, even announced that I was doing so, then changed my mind. If the stock market hadn't tanked I almost certainly would have gone ahead with the investment. Permalink to this paragraph

Second, I think buying Twhirl is probably a brilliant move for Seesmic. I can't tell for sure because we don't know how much they paid for it, but assuming it was a reasonable amount (low six figures) what Seesmic gets, as Om wisely says, is the only thing that matters -- users. Permalink to this paragraph

That's the first epiphany that's available from using Twitter. It's all about the users. It's the second epiphany and the 208th. Nothing else matters, not even the reliability of the system (though that's much better these days) -- even on its most flaky days, there was never an exodus to any of the alternative systems that exist. However, fortunately for Twitter, none of the alternative systems have tried to clone Twitter, and that may be in Seesmic's future, but I get ahead of myself. Permalink to this paragraph

Another reason it's potentially a brilliant move is that it keeps Seesmic in the conversation. After an initial rollout that made Seesmic the talk of the town for a couple of months, now the cursor has moved on (not sure where), and Seesmic isn't that much the topic du jour. With a Twitter client with say 10K or 20K users (they've had 100K downloads) now there are all those people that Loic can pitch daily in hopefully a tasteful not too intrusive way.  Permalink to this paragraph

Another key thing -- now you don't have to "go" somewhere else to see a Seesmic video. If you live in Twhirl (they should change the name, please, it's so hard to type) one suspects that Seesmic videos will not come to you through the normal Twitter mechanism with a bit of text and a URL. They can make it much more seamless, and I bet they do. And in doing so they will be creating a very nice demo of payloads, something I've been saying Twitter themselves should be doing. But, no problem, now Seesmic can, at least for video (which is a very large piece of the problem). Permalink to this paragraph

No matter if any of this speculation is correct, if the price was right, Seesmic bought access to some very good users and they have the ability to converse with them through the very personable Loic at the helm.  Permalink to this paragraph

Update: Compete.com comparison between Seesmic and Twhirl. Tells an interesting storyPermalink to this paragraph


Recent stories:

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

Dave Winer Mailto icon

My most recent trivia on Twitter.

I'm a California voter for Obama.

© Copyright 1994-2008 Dave Winer Mailto icon.

Last update: 10/20/2008; 8:22:33 AM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

Click here to view blogs commenting on  RSS 2.0 feed.