Twitter says it will roll out commercial accounts before the end of the year, offering business users a package of tools and analytics in an effort to kick-start revenues for the microblogging firm. The company also hinted it could sign syndication deals with news outlets and media firms in the future. The news comes in the same week that Twitter rolled out its location-based API as well as a French version of the site.
Speaking at an event hosted by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said Twitter is set to roll out a new "layer" of access that will allow businesses to pay for analytics and information. Twitter has to-date resisted introducing display or banner ads on the site, and Stone claims its revenue plans will be "native to the site" and won't interfere with how users currently interact with the service.
Speaking onstage, Stone also said Twitter's power to break news could lead to deals with different media companies. He acknowledged Twitter alone does not provide the wider context that a news outlet can bring, but insisted there is a “wonderful partnership to be had," adding: "It is an interesting time for news organisations and I am looking forward to seeing what we can create if we open our doors to them."
Stone also criticised Rupert Murdoch’s plans to introduce a paywall around all News Corp’s online news content. "They should be looking at this as an opportunity to try something radically different and find out a way to make a ton of money from being radically open rather than some money from being ridiculously closed," he said.
In a separate interview with the BBC, Stone explained more about Twitter’s revenue plans. "People are very curious about exactly how we make our money, and we're going to be entering into that this year," he said. "There are several ways that we are looking at making money, and we'll see what works best."
"One of the first things we're going to do explicitly is to commercial accounts, and that is providing a special layer of access. Twitter will always be free to everyone, whether it's commercial or personal, but you'll be able to pay for an additional layer of access to learn more about your Twitter account - get some feedback, get some analytics so you can become a better Twitterer."
Stone added that Twitter also has "syndication possibilities," citing its recent deals with Google and Bing as a way to "give away this real time feed of data to other companies" in order to "create a better experience for searching Twitter".
Details of Twitter's revenue plans first emerged earlier this year, when Stone revealed the site's corporate aspirations. In August, the co-founder said the company was set to start building a "whole new set of commercial APIs".
A USD100m September funding round gave Twitter a USD1bn valuation, however the company is not yet cash-flow positive.
|19 Nov 09 - Andy Beal's Marketing Pilgrim|
|20 Nov 09 - BigBlog.com: Breaking News|