Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chris Dixon On Twitter: Not Impressive

Chris Dixon is a great entrepreneur and investor, and he has a great blog (it's on my blogroll), but his latest post on Twitter I did not find all that impressive. The guy comes across as high on diligence, not so high on vision.

This morning when I showed up at for my morning coffee - I am not much of a coffee drinker, by the way, beer and coffee are strictly social for me - Fred Wilson had mentioned Chris Dixon. Obviously the two have a mutual admiration thing going on.

Fred Wilson: Narratives Over Numbers
Chris Dixon: Size Markets Using Narratives, Not Numbers

And what's up with bloggers who flash this road sign on their old posts? "Comments for this page are closed." I don't do it, I don't get it. It is not like your blog post can not be found a few weeks later. Unless you are someone who makes a point to read every comment that was ever left at your blog. That might be Fred's rationale behind flashing that road sign. I don't flash it. I use my Disqus dashboard to manage my comments. It probably helps that I don't get all that many. Looks like Fred and Chris have a high class problem to have: many, too many comments.

Chris was already on my blogroll. He does have a swell blog. But this attention from Fred made sure he got promoted to the A1 section on my blogroll. These are bloggers that if they post something new, I have to go read it if I spot it. There are too many white males in that section. And a disproportionate number of Indians, but that is understandable.

Fred and Chris should have been there when they ran me out of the Sun building: Presenting At The Dot Com Hatchery. I came from the narrative angle, and they came from the not-ready-for-prime-time, the-guy-does-not-have-numbers angle.

Anyways, so I am thinking, I have not been to Chris Dixon's blog in a while, let me go look at some fresh stuff. And I found this.

Chris Dixon: Twitter And Third-Party Twitter Developers

Some of the things Chris says are unbelievable.

Real Time Is Real Time, Today Or Last Year
Twitter Has To Scale The Signals
Twitter Does The Deed: Ads
If The Tweet Is The Atom, What Is Location?
Twitter Acquires Tweetie: The Drama
Twitter Need Get Work Done
Twitter Needs To Eat Into Its Ecosystem

Twitter is perhaps - not perhaps, it is - the most talked about company at my blog. That is why I think I would be a great addition to the Union Square Ventures team: Union Square Ventures Job Opening: I Am Applying. Twitter is the best investment Fred ever made, in my opinion.

This is the Twitter narrative: Fractals: Apple, Windows 95, Netscape, Google, Facebook, Twitter. Either you get it or you don't get it. If I were to write that blog post today, I'd probably add FourSquare at the end. But I will admit I did not see FourSquare coming. I was at FourSquare's demo at the NY Tech MeetUp I believe in March 2009. I remember not being impressed. Although I made a point to say hello to the Indian looking guy Naveen, who sensed it and was not impressed.

Fred Wilson imagined a Twitter like service before he actually came across Twitter, and it was slightly different from what he had imagined, it was better than what he had imagined, it was a case of reality being stranger than fiction. But scientists knew of Pluto, before they actually pinned it down. Fred Wilson and Esther Dyson are visionaries. Every time I get to meet Esther she makes my day. And I have met her at a few different NY Tech MeetUps. I don't think she knows me, but I could care less. The first time I saw her, I immediately recognized her, I could not believe it was her I was seeing. I thought the NY Tech MeetUp was for mere mortals like myself.
  1. Location (Dennis Crowley: I Underestimated Him)
  2. Random Connections
  3. The Inbox
This is what I am looking at for the first half of this year. I guess this could go on for all of this year, and maybe even some of next year, but I don't feel confident projecting too far ahead. 2010 is definitely location's buzz year. Next year the space will have matured and receded from the headlines a little.

So coming back to Chris Dixon and Twitter.
Twitter having sent mixed signals over the past few years..... somehow Twitter had convinced the world they were going to “let a thousand flowers bloom” – as if they were a non-profit out to save the world, or that they would invent some fantastic new business model that didn’t encroach on third-party developers...... Twitter has yet to figure out a business model..... Twitter search will monetize poorly ..... Twitter’s move into mobile clients and hints about a more engaging website suggest they may be trying to mimic Facebook’s display ad model. ...Facebook’s ad growth is being driven largely by companies like Zynga who are in turn monetizing users with social games and virtual goods..... Facebook’s model depends on owning “eyeballs,” which is entirely contradictory to the pure API model Twitter has promoted thus far. ....Hopefully Twitter “fills holes” through acquisitions instead of internal development. ..... but on the product development front has been underwhelming ....Now that Twitter seems to be mimicing Facebook...Facebooker Ivan Kirigin tweeted yesterday: “I suppose when your competition is making huge mistakes, you should just stfu.”
Other than the fact that this guy is running a few days behind, obviously he has not blogged since Twitter made its big announcement. That is curious because the Twitter announcement was the biggest announcement in tech this past week. As far as I am concerned, the Twitter announcement is bigger than the iPad release. Twitter affects and will affect far more people. Steve Jobs, the Pied Piper. (The iPad Is No Laptop Killer)

Twitter has not sent any mixed signals. There is an almost total overlap between the Twitter path and the Google path. First build the product. Worry about monetization later. Just like there is a Google ecosystem (and this blog - Netizen - is part of it), there will continue to be a Twitter ecosystem. But Google bought Blogger and YouTube. Twitter will make its purchases. Twitter never pretended to be a non profit. If there are people who ever thought Twitter was a non profit, that can't be Twitter's fault.

Twitter search will monetize poorly? Chris, Twitter is second only to Google in the search arena. That has to ring a bell.

Twitter could not imitate Facebook even if it wanted to. Google could not become Facebook. Facebook can not become Twitter. Facebook and Twitter can add location, but FourSquare will thrive. Vision 101.

Facebook has not in earnest started to monetize. Their ad model will rely on the social graph and the social interactions. In a sense Facebook has not yet done what Twitter has done already. (Facebook's Ad Space Is Different)

The "API model" has been about extending Twitter's reach and making tweets fundamental to the web experience. It has been part of product development. It was never a business model.

It is not a choice between buy or build. Twitter has to do both. Each situation is slightly unique. My suggestion has been to go for an IPO, and then go on a buying spree: Twitter Should Go For A Netscape-Like IPO.

Twitter deserves credit for, but it also deserves credit for the Twitter ecosystem. I could complain Google did not give me Gmail on day one, or I could say thanks, they finally did it.

How is Twitter mimicking Facebook? The Facebook Ivan dude is making even less sense. Twitter is in the best shape it has ever been after its Chirp announcements. And there are people who think Twitter is imploding? Wet dreams.

We need to talk some resonance sense into this guy.

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