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21st (and Real) Reason Why Seesmic Bought Twhirl

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Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur outlines 20 reasons why his company bought Twhirl, an Adobe AIR-based Twitter client that is preferred by the self-obsessed net-set (including yours truly). Some see it as a future-of-the-web move. The Valley echo chamber seems to agree.

I’m stingy with such compliments. In my opinion, the 21st (and real) reason why Loic bought this little client: users. Twhirl is very popular these days; it accounts for 7 percent of the traffic on Twitter, putting it in a good position to help Seesmic — whenever it comes out of alpha/beta/gamma testing — attract new users to its service very quickly. (Of course, Twitter fame can be fleeting, forgotten the minute the net-set discovers the next new shiny shiny.)

Seesmic, in simple terms, is a video Twitter-type service, but I have grappled with two questions: What is Seesmic’s utility, and what pain point is it trying to solve? The company showed off its service at our NewTeeVee Live conference and Loic was recently on The GigaOM Show trying to explain the service, but I still don’t quite get it. Perhaps, Alan Patrick over on BroadStuff puts it best,

Videoblogging has a limited runway compared to text blogging (today at any rate) and this is a way for Seesmic to shift its focus from video to overall ‘microblogging.’

38 Responses to “21st (and Real) Reason Why Seesmic Bought Twhirl”

  1. Seesmic bought Twhirl because Seesmic’c traffic/users is non-existent. They know they have a lemon on their hands. They’re trying to salvage the company by cloning Twitter.

  2. Om, too bad you were not here when your team invited me at the GigaOm show, I would have loved to explain you directly as “you do not get it” but you did not give me a chance, same as when we had coffee last time, same at LeWeb3 in Paris. I just realize you never took the time to listen to me. Have you ever even logged in Seesmic?

  3. Totally agree Om.

    I twittered yesterday that I would have liked to have heard Loic explain the business reason behind the acquisition, because that wasn’t mentioned in his 20 reasons. Member acquisition makes a lot of sense.

    Loic didn’t say it, but his “20 benefits” seemed to imply the, now old, build it and they will come reason for the purchase. Any VC backed company can’t just buy something because it’s cool. There has to be a very god business reason.

  4. Another way to see this, assuming a low(ish) purchase price, is that it gets Seesmic a kickass AIR+XMPP+Twitter-API developer on staff.

    There’s not too many of those on the job market now, bundle that with existing users (and the PR they got out of it) and you have a pretty good value. Smart move from Loïc and his team.

  5. I like the basic idea of Seesmic – hey, I like video – but the market seems small.

    I can read blogs at work without problem, bc it’s media. I can read Twitter, and sometimes respond, bc it’s about conversation (although most of my Twittering is post-work).

    Can I watch videos and record responses from my desk? Only if I have a private office.

    I think there’s a market there, though. Just not sure if it’s the video Twitter.

  6. I don’t get it too. We can’t use Seesmic like Twitter period. I can tweet from office on the way to restroom or coffee break. I can’t do the same with Seesmic. I can’t even watch seesmic (or any other video for that matter) from work place. I also don’t get how Seesmic can get the same success as Twitter.

  7. @ Mark Evans, Dave Winer writes it best: “With a Twitter client with say 10K or 20K users (they’ve had 100K downloads) now there are all those people that Loic can pitch daily in hopefully a tasteful not too intrusive way.” Any mucking around means end-game.

    @ Others, I think this is an interesting AIR deal and got a premium valuation like some of the early Facebook Apps. Will AIR app market goes south from this point forward?

  8. @ Eric Rice

    Also, I can’t help but question the ‘do early adopters matter re: influence’ meme now, since those early, powerful, far-reaching users CAN influence.

    Confused by that remark, Care to expand on this Eric.

  9. Re:shiny shiny…what happens if someone uses Silverlight in the same way and extends the same great IM-speed experience to mobile phones too? Although windows mobile is not popular amongst the net-set, the experience would be way better on phones that will soon ship Silverlight. To me low dev barriers to entry means the burgeoning Twhirl brand will need to expand quickly to phones to keep out the snitters from finding a weakness, hopefully having a Seesmic parent won’t slow their momentum.

  10. Leo Laporte one said that today it is not necessary to separate out text, video and audio, but treat them as different forms of content, each with its own place. I kinda agree with that and this is probably what the future is going to be.

    Am already seeming examples of people finding out about Seesmic via the Twhirl news

  11. I’m always confused when video is compared to text, especially in a Youtube era– not just with people posting things, but in an era of people being told to take DOWN the things they post (from studios). Can’t quite recall the last text-based Cease & Desist story. :)

    Also, I can’t help but question the ‘do early adopters matter re: influence’ meme now, since those early, powerful, far-reaching users CAN influence.

    Can an acquisition be purely marketing only? After all, are users are warm bodies that have a dollar amount assigned to them? Do you want my data or just my warm pulse? :)

  12. Om,

    You nailed it but I honestly don’t see many Thwirl users checking out Seesmic. And if Seesmic starts to fool around with Thwirl to introduce video chat, I suspect many Thwirl users will quickly find something else that meets their needs. I suspect the real reason for the deal is Seesmic is dead in the water or, least, the concept of video chat (while somewhat interesting) is going nowhere fast!

  13. I’m a Twhirl user. Every time they add support for new services such as Twitpic & Tweetburner it prompts me to use them. I’m guessing many other users are the same. Twhirl was already planning on adding Seesmic support prior to this announcement, so capturing users was already going to occur.

    So the key here will be to make sure that with this purchase the Seesmic integration is implemented in a clean unobtrusive manner. If Twhirl becomes too aggressive in their execution of Seesmic support and begins to falter on it’s main Twitter functionality, reason 21 will be pointless as users being flocking to another Air application in a heartbeat.

  14. We can’t say whether Seesmic will become as big as Twitter, but your comments about the service echo alot of the thoughts about Twitter when it was first released and we now see what sort of utility it has become to so many people. I personally don’t use Seesmic but I see it’s potential.

  15. Don't think.Org

    “What is Seesmic’s utility, and what pain point is it trying to solve?”

    How dare you think? Do you know what happens to people with such thoughts – have you seen “clockwork orange”.

  16. Spot on.

    One great thing this acquisition does do however, is hopefully inspire the AIR developer community even more. :) Great stuff

    The main issue I have with the seesmic ui is the ‘pseudo-threading’ of the conversations can make me feel ‘lost’ quite quickly.

    It’s a lot of fun though, and can be a very addictive medium once you join in and engage with others. (that ‘first reply moment’)

    Systems like this have been waiting to happen for a long time. Recent changes in the flash video serving economy have made it easier, so I expect we’ll see more thing ‘like’ this soon.

    stay tuned :)