Twitter Guys take it all too seriously and may have lost the plot

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Twitter’s slow user growth is doing the rounds in every circle and subsequently share prices have slide down 20% plus in the last month, which has forced a sharp movement from the management team, where Dick Costolo led an investor analyst day (#TWTRAnalystDay) and come out with a product roadmap, that includes emphasising Direct Message (DM)  and increasing engagement with non-registered users. Also there are some changes in team. Kevin Weil has been given the product management role and CFO Anthony Noto becomes the new face of the company. In fact Noto has recently being involved in a DM gaffe where he is accidently disclosed an intention of buying a start-up.

If we go in more detail on how recent product updates work, first, Twitter has made available their archive via search i.e. a person doing a search on twitter can see all tweets since 2006. This update is targeted at non-registered users who usually arrive on Twitter via referral traffic to see results on a profile or hashtag. Second, to improve the direct message experience, the user can now DM any tweet just by tapping on tweet. This is to let people use a highly untapped feature of Twitter and try to leverage recent success of DMing apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp.

On expanding their business, there are always rumours of Twitter acquiring start-ups like SoundCloud, and recently a selfie app (backed up by) Bieber. Twitter is also talking about an app video feature; however they have a separate video app, Vine App with a considerable number of registered users. And under Adam Bain/Nathan Hubbard (ex Ticketmaster CEO) Twitter is trying to venture into Twitter commerce, where they are enabling some selective businesses to offer in app purchases of their products and services.

On the personnel front, they have a strong team of executives with a background of Google, Facebook and giants of the media industry like BBC, Fox and LiveNation.

I think on paper all look ideal to lead the company in whatever it can do to take their business to a stage where both shareholders and end users can enjoy the success of the product. However, sliding share prices and declining user growth may be forcing outsiders to think otherwise. So where exactly does the problem lie for a platform which host top personalities and celebrities from the Pope to the Clintons to Cristiano Ronaldo to Justin Bieber, and has become the rage since the 2009 Obama election?

I think, the problem is that Twitter has taken themselves too seriously. That may sound funny for a company listed on NASDAQ ($TWTR) but let’s not forget Twitter was launched on the back of mobile text messaging  limitations and was intend to enable us to send messages on an open platform with ease. Thereafter, they have opened up their technology, which triggered the development of apps like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and many more, which not only enhanced product features by introducing entities like @, #, RT and @reply, but also took the popularity of this product to another level.

And when the guys at the helm realised that this was a very engaging product, what they did was clip the developers’ wings and brought people from Google and Facebook to recreate the magic, and that’s where the problem is, because Twitter is not another Facebook or Google; it is unique, and is perhaps the first crowd-sourcing social network product with a cult developers’ following.

Looking at the success of Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Bluefin Lab, DataSift, GNIP and many more tools, I think in order to seriously monetize their service, Twitter has to take unique approach and maybe hand back power to developers/hackers, and should take a role of technology facilitator. For example, if Twitter continues their focus on speeding up in app features like payment, multimedia DM, in app video & audio and lets developers create products, then it would be far more of a success story than it is now.

If I didn’t make myself clear above, what I am trying to say is that the amount of success or creative satisfaction third party apps have enjoyed at the back of Twitter technology could not possibly have been achieved on any of other platform, including Facebook and LinkedIn.  And what Twitter must continue to do is to encourage developers to take more risk and come up with more innovative products. That would means that their business model is more based on Apple (App Store) than Google and Facebook (Display Advertising), which is an unique model for a data or information hosting company, but don’t forget  Twitter is a unique product.

Overall, what is making me nervous is that this platform is a by-product of crowdsourcing and now a group is trying to control its monetisation, which may be too much and too serious an approach for a product which is uniquely poised to serve various sections, topics, demographics and geographies of societies, and covers topics from the Football/Soccer World Cup to the Arab Spring.

And, I would like to finish on a positive note, that we all agree this is great product and those who use this platform know the power of 140 characters. Personally, I have managed to engage many journalists, VCs, CEOs, and celebrities and have made valuable contacts, which I could not have dreamed of in the pre-Twitter era, and with my aspirational entrepreneurial hat on, I am also trying to build a purely Twitter-based commerce tool, Tweepforce, which I think can really capture people’s intent and convert that to sales. I hope that we all prevail in what I see as keeping alive one of the most liberating platforms ever introduced in the post dot com era.

These are the most popular non-Apple apps people keep on their homescreens

Shashank Garg:

#homescreen

Originally posted on 9to5Mac:

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You don’t need to go any further than iTunes to see the most popular iPhone apps, but a couple of days after Betaworks launched #Homescreen, an app which allows people to share their homescreens on Twitter, we thought it would be interesting to check the results so far. The above image was the result at the time of writing.

#Homescreen is an app with a single function: it allows you to share your current iPhone homescreen on Twitter. Betaworks uses image-recognition to identify the apps, and pulls together a constantly-updated image showing the most popular dock and homescreen apps.

Betaworks excludes Apple’s own apps, but does note that “between 45 percent and 65 percent of the home screens examined had replaced Apple’s default apps with third-party options,” reports TechCrunch.

One trend the company noted in a Medium blog post is the growing popularity of third-party messaging apps.

Facebook is…

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The Most Difficult Question I Ask Founders

Originally posted on Hunter Walk:

One of the things I like least about seed stage venture is the compressed amount of time to get to know a new founder during fundraising. “Solutions” include pre-emptive activities such as building long-term relationships with future founders or mentoring at incubators to meet teams pre-seed, plus getting really good at reference diligence, but we still rely upon accelerating the “would we work well together” discussion during fast-moving investments. So each seed investor comes up with their own “minimum viable relationship” threshold, usually a factor of their investment strategy/velocity, how quickly they can get comfortable with someone and their skill in asking questions which matter.

One question which matters to me is the “why” of your startups, especially as it relates to your longevity as a founder. The most difficult question for some founders is “why do you want to spend 10 years of your life working on solving this…

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The Internet Is The Best Thing Ever To Happen To Songwriters

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Ever since, Taylor Swift decided to give Spotify the boot, under the auspices of helping songwriters, there has been a conversation suggesting that there was somehow a golden age for songwriters when they controlled their own destiny –and the Internet killed all that. I’m here to tell you that there was never any such time and if anything, the Internet was the best thing that ever happened to musicians.

Here’s a simple truth: The Internet is the best distribution channel ever created and it’s up to musicians and record companies to figure out how to exploit it. And here’s a hint: It’s not the old way of selling records.

Let’s look back at the reality of the music business for a minute, shall we? The business is littered with stories of exploitation. In the 1950s, black blues musicians and early rockers often never saw a penny for their work…

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Would You Send Money through Snapchat?

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Originally posted on Jaclyn Freedman:

You can now send money via…  Snapchat (and Square Cash).

What does it all mean?

Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Venmo, and now Snapcash? With so many mobile wallets unveiling from established brands we trust, does Snapchat have a chance?

You decide:

Yes:

Snapchat offers the only money transfer service from a truly consumer perspective. (+1)

As of August, 100 MILLION people were actively using Snapchat with their closest friends (+1)

There is potential for brands to utilize Snapchat as a way to visually display their capabilities, even allowing consumers to make instant purchases. (+1)

18+ US users can now sign up by adding a Visa or Mastercard debit card, with all account details being held by Square Cash. (+2)

Ease of use: simply type a $ sign, and the  send button turns green. Send funds to  friends and if they don’t sign up within 24  hours, the money is put directly back…

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Twitter teases a bunch of new product features, including new apps and algorithmic filters

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Originally posted on Gigaom:

During Twitter’s first ever analyst call Wednesday, the company previewed a range of products it’s developing. CEO Dick Costolo, CFO Anthony Noto, and a handful of product leads gave a rundown of what to expect in the coming months.

They didn’t give a ship date for most of the products — aside from a direct messaging update — so it’s hard to know how close these updates are to being built. Twitter may have been trying to stave off analyst anxiety or prove its product team isn’t in shambles after recent high-profile departures. If it’s the former, the effort paid off. Twitter’s stock was up 7.45 percent at stock closing, with $42.54 per share.

Either way, here’s a breakdown of the most important features.

Location-based Twitter

One of the most interesting projects revealed by Twitter is location-based Twitter curation (see below). The company has experimented with the feature in major metropolitan areas, allowing you to…

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Taylor Swift’s Spotify Paycheck Mystery

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Shashank Garg:

Taylor Swift vs Spotify is not finished yet -:)

Originally posted on TIME:

Taylor Swift has been paid less than $500,000 in the past 12 months for domestic streaming of her songs, Scott Borchetta, the CEO of Taylor Swift’s record label, the independent Nashville-based Big Machine, told TIME Wednesday.

His statement is the latest salvo in an increasingly heated disagreement between Swift and Spotify. The disagreement has sent ripples through the music industry, with the country’s most successful musician removing her work from an admired new online music model.

According to Borchetta, the actual amount his label has received in return for domestic streams of Swift’s music—$496,044—is drastically smaller than the amount Spotify has suggested the artist receives. That sum represents only a portion of the amount paid out by the streaming service. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said Tuesday that the label for an artist of Swift’s popularity could expect to receive $6 million in the next year from the streaming service as…

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