The Inside Word is a weekly feature that looks at compelling industry debates and discussions unfolding on the blogs of employees at digital-media companies.
Blogger: Cody Brown
Position: Publisher, NYU Local
Blog name: CodyBrown.name
Backstory: Brown is a college student who founded a daily campus news blog at New York University. He’s never formally worked at digital-media company, but a piece he wrote on Twitter’s business strategy earlier this month generated lots of debate on his personal blog, Twitter and elsewhere online.
Blog post: Brown argues in a blog post that Twitter may soon face some of MySpace’s recent and much-documented woes. “I have grown to love Twitter, but in my opinion we are rapidly approaching its peak,” he writes. “Its parallels to MySpace in 2006 are explicit. Twitter has been bootstrapped for a vast number of uses and while it’s exciting to watch, its service is not containable. Like MySpace, Twitter is getting pulled in a variety of directions.” Among them: Customer service, marketing, social networking, and real-time journalism.
“Twitter became popular before it had a mission. What this means is that its employees and investors will forever be trapped in boardrooms having … inane cyclical discussions about its identity. Twitter will either perpetually be simple insofar as its millions of users will have to hack the service to reflect their own values, or it will roll the dice on a focus, put the site through chronic redesigns, and risk a mass user exodus. Either way, its top talent will likely get frustrated and leave the company. Its top users will drift to something else then jump.”
Post-script: We asked Brown what he thinks Twitter should do. “Twitter can save itself from following the path of MySpace if it identifies a core market, then throws everything on the table to redesign their product for that market,” he tells us. “This would be like MySpace identifying music as its core market and targeting it to the point where they would dissolve the friend-to-friend social networking aspects of the site and re-brand. It’s a decision that is wildly risky, it will halt growth and anger a large percentage of your users, but it’s either this or a swan dive into irrelevance.”
We’ll see, although for now, despite a temporary lull in its growth in May, Twitter’s rise only continues.
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