Twitter looking to friend Facebook
Twitter wants to friend Facebook but the hot Internet stars have been unable to make a relationship work, a co-founder of the microblogging said.
"We are talking to them often to see if there is a way to work together, but so far neither side has seen a way to do that," Twitter co-founder Evan Williams said about Facebook at a Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
Williams noted that he was "frustrated" that Facebook blocked an integration of contact lists that would have allowed people to see whether friends from one service were also using the other.
"We'd like our users to tap into Facebook to make their Twitter experience better," Williams said.
"But I understand their position," he continued. "They see the social graph as their core asset."
Twitter's freshly instituted revenue model of letting businesses or people pay to "promote" tweets -- terse text messages of no more than 140 characters -- to eye-catching spots was "going great," according to Williams.
He contended there are "a million ways" for Twitter to make money.
Williams refused to answer questions about a TechCrunch report that Twitter is in line for a multi-billion-dollar round of venture capital funding, most likely headed by Russian investor Yuri Milner of DST Global.
During an on-stage chat at the Summit a day earlier, Milner dodged questions about his interest in buying a piece of Twitter.
Milner has stakes in social networking king Facebook; online games sensation Zynga, and Internet coupon startup Groupon.
"That is great company to be considered in," Williams said when moderator John Battelle pressed him about possible Milner backing.
"We have a lot of money in the bank," Williams quickly added.
Milner said he invests in "late-stage companies with billion-dollar-plus valuations in the social Internet space." Twitter fits that bill.
The number of people using Twitter around the world rocketed after the startup launched in San Francisco in mid-2006.
"I feel like we spent very little time improving the product because we had to spend all our time ramping up our team and infrastructure," Williams said of the years of explosive growth.
"We got to a point this year where we had time and resources to do improvements that weren't just superficial."
Coming improvements include integrating Google Translate tools into Twitter so "tweets" can be converted between languages, according to Williams.
People getting into real-world trouble for messages fired off on Twitter is an example of societies grappling with how the Internet is breaking down barriers to sharing information and thoughts.
"Getting more voices and ways to find the truth means there will be more truth available for more people," Williams said of Twitter.
"I think society is not yet prepared for everyone having a voice; that includes people having access to text messaging and alcohol. There are going to be some painful lessons."
(c) 2010 AFP