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@ EconSM: Twitter’s Business Model: Search, Carriers And Content

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imageWe’ve gotten hints about Twitter’s business model from its founders, its backers and random speculators — but Kevin Thau, Twitter’s director of mobile business development, gave EconSM attendees a more tangible picture of the startup’s three-pronged revenue stream: It’s about search, carriers and content.

Thau joined Twitter in mid-January, since then, he said the company has brokered about a dozen business deals with partners like mobile service providers, handset makers and even media companies. MarketWatch’s EIC David Callaway grilled him on the details:

Search: Twitter’s real-time search capabilities have been well-documented (so much so, that even Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has stepped up its real-time search features); Thau said the startup will monetize its search traffic “in some way” — though he didn’t elaborate.

Carriers: Much of Twitter’s traffic comes from mobile: both through data plans and via SMS. Thau said getting some sort of a cut of the carriers’ data business wouldn’t be a huge source of revenue — but definitely a portion. Twitter’s also working on handset deals that would “integrate the service” into their core functionality from day one.

Content: MTV is sharing ad revenue upcoming show with Twitter, so will we see an influx of similar content deals? (Note: MTV has since noted that rev-share talks between the two companies were not finalized, and that Twitter will not be getting a cut of the ad sales for the foreseeable future) Thau said yes — which is partly why they hired a new exec to focus on the media/entertainment business. “The media industry is looking for ways to stay fresh and interactive; you’re already seeing CNN and ABC (NYSE: DIS) Nightline using it, and we think more media companies will start using Twitter as a utility.”

2 Responses to “@ EconSM: Twitter’s Business Model: Search, Carriers And Content”

  1. Twitter's is running on a burn rate that will cover them till sometime next year (according to one of their investors), which means they will have to find significant revenue to sustain their growth. My prediction: they will have to either raise more cash, sell, or cut cost and survive (go niche). If they don't sell, I think they will def go niche…i.e. marketing tool for pundits and search. By end of next year, their investors will not have stomach to provide more cash for these guys.

  2. "getting some sort of a cut of the carriers’ data business wouldn’t be a huge source of revenue—but definitely a portion"? No offense Kevin but are you serious? Won't even be a "portion" dude . . .but good luck to you.