The rapid growth of micro-blogging service Twitter over the past year has led to endless speculation about the company's future, from how it's ever going to make money to who its potential suitors might be. Twitter CEO Evan Williams addressed these and other topics on The Charlie Rose Show .
Future products: Williams said he is most interested in organizing information from Tweets (as Twitter refers to the short messages that are the foundation of the service) in a way that is valuable and useful to usersor what he referred to as "synthesizing intelligence from the Tweets." This could include algorithms that report tweet activity according to defined metrics and information, as well as reputation systems, where users are ranked according to how useful their tweets are.
Lots of applications: According to Williams, Twitter has over 2,000 applications for people to send updates in different forms or include features like pictures. These are all developed by third parties that create software that can be plugged into a Twitter account as an application. (Sounds kind of like Facebook and the iPhone.)
Twitter goes global: Twitter's userbase is now about split between the U.S., and overseas. The largest non-U.S. audiences come from the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Germany and Brazil.
The Facebook talks: Williams said during the interview late last week that he decided it was too early to cash out given Twitter's potential to grow. He wouldn't comment on any discussions with Facebook about the social-networking site's valuation.
How to make money: Williams said "we don't know for sure, but we have some ideas," ranging from charging users and companies for using the service to selling advertising. (This is a notch less definitive than Todd Dagres, founder of investor Spark Capital, was in an interview earlier this week, when he said Twitter definitely had a plan to make money.) Williams said Twitter would probably have an easier time attracting advertising than social networks like MySpace or Facebook because it is more of an informational service than a place for people to socialize, and users would be more likely to notice ads running on its pages.
Williams said little about Twitter's ability to make money from searching tweets, something AdAge says could turn out to be a big revenue source for the company. But Twitter is clearly thinking further down the line about how its search capabilities can be turned into a thriving business since, as the publication points out, Twitter bought search engine Summize in July 2008 and has started integrating it into certain users' accounts.
By Rory Maher