Twitter built a powerful service – a great tool for communicating. And then one day looked up and realized their best shot at monetization – searching through tweets and people for information – was being done by someone else. They went and bought that company, and incorporated it as Twitter Search. The fact that they did so highlights the importance of search as the go-to monetization strategy that companies like Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, and Google see as the next big “vertical” within Search.
There was a fantastic blog from Jon Battelle where he discussed this idea that Twitter was the next YouTube – the next search vertical with huge traction – and that Google would do everything in it’s power to own this new search vertical. Meanwhile, we saw attempts by Facebook to acquire Twitter, and when that failed, we saw Facebook lightning-quick roll-out FriendFeed and Twitter-esque features to compete and build out it’s own microblogging platform. And sure enough, yesterday TechCrunch had a post on acquisition talks between Twitter and Google. Biz Stone today responded with a blog post stating “Sometimes We Talk” with companies about acquisition, but “Our goal is to build a profitable, independent company and we’re just getting started.
So far, no one seems to have released a fantastic and powerful search coupled with a good monetization strategy, but one must imagine that Facebook, Google, and Twitter are all working on. There are signs at least Twitter is advancing in that direction. As my friend Akshay stated last week, in a moment of insight around who would win the war to own your lifestream, “Facebook can become Twitter, but Twitter can’t become Facebook.”