The State Of Twitter, The Startup That Can't Kill Itself

Brad Stone has a long story about Twitter in Bloomberg BusinessWeek today.

If you aren't familiar with Twitter, it is absolutely worth reading.

If you are, here's the gist of it:

Twitter does, in fact, have advertisements, and Dick Costolo is funny.

More highlights:

  • About 90 employees at Twitter are former Googlers, according to the report.
  • Twitter works closely with Apple thanks to its CFO Ali Rowghani's connections as a former CFO of Pixar Animation Studios — another Steve Jobs company.
  • Since 2009, Costolo has expanded headcount from 45 to nearly 900.
  • Costolo worked with VC Peter Fenton and Bill Campbell, an Apple board member, to get co-founder Jack Dorsey actively involved in Twitter again.
  • Costolo has developed six-hour leadership courses, which he administers to senior executives four times a year.
  • Twitter makes money with licensing deals, like its one with Microsoft to include tweets in the Bing search engine.
  • Advertisers pay only when a user retweets a corporate tweet or clicks on a link. Twitter says it has an engagement rate of 3 percent to 5 percent, compared with less than 0.5 percent for normal banner ads, according to BusinessWeek.
  • Walt Disney paid $120,000 for its Toy Story 3 promoted trend, which sat atop the list of popular topics for a full day.
  • The Newt Gingrich campaign paid Twitter to ensure that tweets with a petition’s link appeared each time Twitter users searched for “Newt Gingrich” and “Mitt Romney.”
  • Here is Costolo's pitch to advertisers:  “These accounts I follow paint a very compelling picture of the kind of person I am, even if it doesn’t paint a picture of exactly which uniquely identifiable individual in the world I am. I think that allows us to deliver powerful value to advertisers, and powerful value to those who want to speak freely.”


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