Presenting two non-adjacent sets of notes here – one on a talk with a venture capitalist on Twitter’s board of directors, and another about how Telecoms can survive and thrive with Twitter instead of going extinct.
Common theme? Follow the money.
Investing in the Real Time Web – investor Bijan Sabet (@bijan) interviewed by Bruce Upbin, Managing Editor of Forbes (@bupbin)
Q: How do you develop Twitter without stamping out innovation surrounding (and competing with) it?
A: He was a user before he was a member of the team, and he saw the power of the API. Even as an investor he can see the value in the development community, because it drives development to the API (uses the example of the purchase of Tweetie). Looks forward to when more businesses can make money as businesses on Twitter.
A lot of the companies are so young, it’s hard to understand what the value of their VC will turn out to be (nothing, multiplicative?)
Q: Who else matters in the real-time Twitter ecosystem – what companies?
A: The space is broad. Emerging folks are showing utilitiy. What co-tweet has done – “focus specifically on this enterprise customer, hyper-focused on it.” Also, Foursquare – in some ways they have a lot in common. In a way 4S is a great Twitter client.
Q: As a 4S investor would be concerned about Twitter places?
A: Talking about acquiring the geo company attatched to Tweet locations – now that functionality is native, makes it easier for 4Q to add value.
Q: How is being on the board of Twitter. “Is it like WHOO?”
A: Evan Williams runs a great board meetings. He’s very specific. “I’ve been blown away by the humility of the founders.”
Q: What about search and Twitter, and the connection to Google?
A: Twitter search is going to continue to improve. The other piece of the puzzle is to make it available so other people can improve on it – Google, Yahoo, startups.
Q: Question about diversity on Twitter – not only in users, but also on the boards.
A: “I think that in start-up companies in particular these boards are not like the boards of publically held companies. Twitter a year ago had 25 employees. Most of our startup companies are even smaller, especially in the social media space.” Tumblr started with two employees! But, boards are made up by founders and investors, and that’s it. There are five people on the Twitter board. “I don’t know if that’s a great answer to your question. I’d like to see more women on the boards, I’d like to see more diversity.”
Twitter vs. Telecom: Friend or Foe, with Tal Givoly, Chief Scientist, Amdocs (@givoly)
Claims he will do 30 minutes of content in 10 minutes, in the style of Chris Lehmann’s electric talk yesterday.
“I don’t have clouds … why is this important? If I called in to a service company, they should realize they should realize they don’t need to treat me special.” But if someone with clout calls in, they can be impactful on relationships. Our old model of interacting with companies was isolated – we could only tell friends and families. Now we’re interacting with them in public!
Real life example: a loyal customer of many years complains, and it took over 24hrs for the company to respond – and they said to call! Why? Because less than a dozen people are managing the Twitter, and they are receiving 4,000 tweets a day.
It doesn’t make sense to staff Twitter with 1,000s of agents, “it doesn’t scale.” If they’re successful in their SM strategy then the followers will only increase – and how will they deal with that?
This talk is split by short-term, mid-term, and long-term.
“Service providers are a great revolution – all of us are addicted to our mobile devices. They connect us to everything.” But, there is a risk that “all that goes on top of it” is something they don’t profit from – it may even be free!
Originally Twitter was designed to be conveyed via SMS, and today it still creates some usage in that area – but more and more we’re all connected to the internet. Then it’s just another business, and the telecoms no longer see profit from those interactions (like they did from metered text messages.
Telecoms only see the subscriber by telephone, address, unique key, and email address. So, no matter what marketing and support they do, it’s not effective – it’s not personal, and it’s manual – it doesn’t scale. Social Media means we want to interact with humans, but the bigger brand wants to automate the process! Everything about these companies aren’t designed to interact swiftly with social mediums, especially their legacy systems. There’s no easy way to plug these things into each other.
Twitter can reduce costs and help with customer retention (and to manage loss to make sure it doesn’t create churn). It means we can reach further and with more specificity. They can make it easier for users to interact with them. But, regulation makes it “terrifying” to interact with the data in a meaningful way – coupling their unique data about the customer with how they exist in the world to identify “who are the influencers and who are the followers” while still keeping it “light and simple.” And that’s not something they know how to do.
“ISPs are curators of a huge portion of our digital footprints.” And we all want to share our footprints more, and they can take advantage of that. There’s a lot of things that ISPs can do to harness that, is create a gateway. “ISPs have a lot to gain in the midterm – potential is high, but getting it right is critical. They have to keep it personal and get it right.”
(both solid talks, and interesting in a complementary way)