Twitter is one of the most misunderstood new technologies to emerge and therefore a common refrain I hear from friends, family and colleagues is, “I don’t get it.” So I decided to do a primer with commentary on how I currently use Twitter (July 2009), which will no doubt change. But I hope to help more people – even many prominent people I talk with – get it. Here is the link to the whole outline that I’m calling Twitter 101. This is the first post in the series.
The first way to think of Twitter is as a way to get the news from the same sources you already get on the Internet or in print. So why should you get them on Twitter if you’re already happy going to the website and just typing in the URL for your local newspaper?
There are a few reasons. The first is aggregation. I read from a wide variety of news sources. For current events I read the NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and the Economist. For tech news I read TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Alley Insider, GigaOm and others. For venture capital / private equity news I read PE Hub, Venturesource, WS Journal venture blog and others. And then I read many personal VC blogs including Fred Wilson, Brad Feld and Bill Gurley.
It would be a pain for me to constantly remember to visit all of these sites on a regular basis – especially since there are probably another 15 that I read regularly and didn’t list. So the first solution to emerge to this problem was a standard known as RSS (real simple syndication) that almost all news sites now use. They “push” their information out on RSS and users can read it all in one place called an RSS reader (provided by multiple companies but most commonly Google. Click
Much criticism has come of our industry in the past few months and in my opinion much of it is deserved (but I’m definitely a believer in the meme that VC isn’t broken but some of the participants are (see here, here and here)). But the VC industry is too fat – a thoughtful piece by Paul Kedrosky on shrinking the industry by half is here.
The latest to weigh in was the NY Times with this well written piece in yesterday’s paper. I think it propely captures the moment and questions whether the structure of the industry for the past 10 years is the the right one for the next 10. In my opinion it also makes Tim Draper truly seem out of touch … we need more VC money to “spread the wealth to the seven billion creative minds out there.” Really? WTF? I’m prefer to assume he was quoted out of context since I’m told Tim isn’t a bad guy. (UPDATE: Great response from Bill Bryant of DFJ is
When I first signed up for Twitter on April 25th, 2007 I was curious what it what all about. I had been reading a lot about Twitter on blogs followed through its usage at the SXSW conference in Austin when it really “blew up” (and as you can see here – not everybody thought it would be an overnight success). I sent invites to a number of my colleagues at Salesforce.com (where I worked at the time) and the response by one of the colleagues I respect the most was, “Twitter? What are you, 13?” I sent out the obligatory messages on Twitter but never heard much back from the people I Tweeted to. It felt a bit like owning a fax machine when nobody else you knew had one.
So now that Twitter is starting to gain mass adoption many of you know about all of the benefits (but there are some drawbacks even some experienced users weren’t aware of). So many of my friends & family are new to Twitter and always make the first observation, “I don’t get it”. So I thought I’d write a few observations about Twitter as it stands in July 2009 (more comments another day).
Last night I spoke on a panel at UCLA for the German American Business Association (GABA) talking about the state of monetization in the online video market. The truth is that I hate attending panel discussions (although I enjoy speaking on them). I have ADD and I can’t easily sit through people mindlessly promoting their companies and not giving out relevant information. I can usually tolerate sitting on panels because if I’m bored I can just say something controversial to stir the cat amongst the pigeons so it can be a bit of fun. I learned this technique while living in the UK where controversy on panel discussions is expected and is the norm.
Last night I reached new heights of irritation. One of my fellow panelists (unnamed and not in the picture attached) was spewing crap about how great of an opportunity there is for young independent UGC film producers to create meaningful and profitable videos online – and particularly on mobile. It was his patronizing and self promotional BS that annoyed me more than the actual content, which I simply felt wasn’t accurate.
Eventually I called bullshit (or as my good friend
I run a monthly meeting called the SoCal VCA (Venture Capital Alliance) in which we have great technology leaders present to the best VC’s in Southern California so that we can better understand the trends and develop tighter relationships with our local technology leaders. In recent sessions we have had Dmitry Shapiro (founder of Veoh), Ian Rogers (CEO of TopSpin Media) and David Sacks (founder of Geni and Yammer, former COO of PayPal). I hadn’t yet restarted my blog so notes from those meetings are still scratched in my yellow notepads.
This month we had an equally impressive speaker in Michael Crandell, founder and CEO of RightScale, a Santa Barbara based company that helps manage cloud computing infrastructure. The company has raised more than $20 million from prominent investors including Kevin Harvey of Benchmark Capital and