Friday, June 12, 2009

Feeding Tweety

I have the TwitterFeed working, and now the number of people following my Twitter feed has quadrupled (up into double digits). I’m guessing this is something that’s convenient for hardcore Twitter users.

Apparently I’m not alone, since one estimate put Twitterfeed at 9.2% of Twitter traffic, the highest of all 3rd party Twitter tools.

Interesting, Silicon Alley Insider (later copied by PaidContent and Reuters) reported Wednesday that reported that a majority stake in the venture had been sold to Betaworks (a Twitter investor) and also TAG. Betaworks has been aggressively investing in Web 2.0 startups.

One of the Betaworks investments was Bitly, which reportedly had a $7 market cap a few months ago. If that’s true, I would think Tweeterfeed is worth even more, because it has a strong market lead, while bitly is a distant 2nd (to TinyURL) in a badly fragmented market segment. (Of course, as in the Web 1.0 era, pre-revenue valuations are of dubious accuracy).

The TwitterFeed website asks for donations, which is not really consistent with a multi-million dollar seed round investment. In response to my email inquiry, founder Mario Menti wrote:

so far I used the donations to keep twitterfeed running, since it was a side-project of mine (it was never a charity as such, just not funded by anyone other than myself and whatever donations I could get).
He says the newly funded site will get a new design, new launch (and presumably as reported new back-office infrastructure), and the donation button will disappear.

Presumably the investors will also want a new business model. There are questions about the role of URL shorteners as an intermediary for web traffic, but it’s clear that many key services (today Digg, presumably someday MS, Google and Yahoo) will provide shortening services for their own content. The technology of TwitterFeed seems easier to imitate, but it would take more than a slightly better mousetrap to steal its apparently loyal customers.

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