Silicon Valley’s All Twttr


Dodgeball is so New York! In Silicon Valley, its all Twttr!

Twttr is a new mobile social networking application written by Noah Glass (and team), an Odeo-guy, a long time compadre of Blogger founder Ev Williams. (Twttr is a side project.) It is not a very complicated application – and which is what makes it so addictive and at the same time annoying.

Twttr has married Short Code Messaging, SMS with a way to create social groups. By sending a text message to a short code (for TWTTR) you can send your location information, your mood information or whatever and share it with people who are on your social-mob! Best part – no installation necessary!

Jason Goldman, Blogger product manager calls is presence tense blogging. (Pyra, the company behind Blogger that Ev started did not start doing blogging software. A mutation of Odeo in the near future?) Glass, says that it started off as a conversation between him and Jack Dorsey, “in a car parked on Valencia and 14 in san francisco” after a night of Vodka drinking!

While I was smoking/talking outside the Zoomr/Valleyschwag party last night, I was introduced to Glass by Nitin Borwankar, a good pal of mine. “It’s presence+real world status over text messaging,” he said. Glass added me to his group, and now my damn Nokia E61 is twttring all the time. Ross Mayfield invited me to his group, and we are off to the races. Who else is on this .. not saying. It is spreading like a virus, and it is very viral.

The annoying SMS messages from nocturnal friends is not the only thing which bothers me about this service, but also the fact, that the texting a message(reply) to twttr ends up on their website. Best thing is to allow users to create micro groups, and give users the options of picking topics and setting rules to maintain privacy and control over the service. If Glass can do that, well, it be pretty awesome.

“Then it can also be adapted for keeping distributed teams in sync,” says Nitin, who is one sharp cookie., “Unlike, IM, text is lightweight, ubiquitous and viral.” Also, no smart phones required! (PS: You can put it on your Live Journal, MySpace page and blog as well!)


Jason Miller

I just found this article from Twitter. Ironic.
It is very weird to look back at how things began to go viral.

Jon Gales

Bill, I think you’re right about acquisition targets. Social networking can be a killer app for mobile, it just hasn’t been done right (enough) to get traction in the US market. Helio has a mobile version of MySpace, but it’s no more interesting than the desktop version–it’s just not full of crap stylesheets.

From what I’ve heard, the big carriers are all worried about getting bad press over stalkers abusing mobile social net services, which is why MySpace had to go with a MVNO. But to be successful on the mobile side you don’t have to duplicate a desktop experience. In fact I’d wager that you can’t duplicate the desktop and be successful. If I’m on my phone, I don’t want to search around for people I don’t know (way too time consuming), I want to connect with the people I already do know. It’s a perfect addition to an existing social service, such as MySpace.

That being said, MySpace has its hands full and hasn’t exactly been innovative in the past, so it’s not something I expect from them. Maybe Murdoch can get out his wallet again and buy the innovation, but I’m not exactly holding my breath. They haven’t even launched a decent advertising program yet, so I’m sure this is really far down the queue.

Bill Day

I think you’ve nailed it with your comment that “This should have been something MySpace launched”, Jon.

I’m starting to understand the many copycat mobile soc-net sites popping up…acquisition targets, anyone?

Jon Gales

MP, Dodgeball only is available in a handful of cities. twttr isn’t tied to a geographic area.

In general I think this is a pretty cool service. It would be best with small groups of people that hang out with eachother a lot. I would probably want 4-5 people in mine. By default messages no longer get posted online (for the public) which is nice.

This should have been something MySpace launched. It is a natural extension of what people are doing on MySpace and would be something a lot of users would enjoy for a subset of their friends list. Sort of like there is a top 8 now, just drag some of your friends into your ‘phone list’ and bam you’re hooked into the matrix.


Doesn’t something like this already exist and it’s called Dodgeball and it’s a Google side project???

Om Malik


you bring up an interesting point and i have to agree with you – not much in terms of innovation per se. what i see it as an on-the-go blogging tool, which needs to installation whatsoever. i think there needs to be major improvement in the presence-information system for it to really have a long term impact.

i think it is a good idea, which now others can improve upon.


I don’t get why there is all this incest love among certain people. The Odeo folks are perfect examples.

They spend all their time at “in” parties. Do random stuff ’cause it is cool. They haven’t done anything with their core product, while more scrappy and focused players like and close the gap on them.

Lame post Om.

Bill Day

I am a big fan of the power and viral nature of SMS-based services (see recent post in my blog about good old 4INFO).

That said, what’s the differentiator for twttr? Isn’t it basically dodgeball-lite? As best I can tell, it lacks the “you’re in proximity to peeps” feature of dodgeball, which IMO is killer. Granted, twttr works anywhere in the states or Canada, whereas dodgeball is currently limited to certain cities (unfortunately, not including mine). But that’s a problem that dodgeball can address, and then where’s twttr?

I must be missing the innovation on this(?).


Would be interesting to see how this would impact the Indian market where SMS is so common and access to IM isn’t. Already a lot of interesting things happening in SMS. I already get a half a dozen marketing/status messages on SMS a day.

Seen a lot of group SMS already and given there are CUG(Closed User Groups) already this could be directly extended to that..maybe?


These blogs are almost beginning to feel like press statements for the startups. There is very little real analysis and they all just seem to write what their buddies want them to write about their companies. Shame…


I can surmise two things: either you all have too much time on your hands or you need to grow up.

Ari Mir

I think what annoys me the most about this article is there seems to be a band of people up North that love promoting each other’s products. This only annoys me because I live in Los Angeles and I desperately want to be a part of the “in” crowd. :(

I guess I have to be content with whoring my mobile social application out to Suri.

Nicolas Toepr


To me it sounds a lot like what Freever is doing in Europe with all carriers.

(disclaimer: Freever is now part of Buongiorno, a company where I work at)

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