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Twitter buys BackType to dig deeper with big data

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Twitter announced Tuesday morning it has acquired BackType (see disclosure), an analytics platform aimed at helping companies and brands gauge their impact on social media websites. Post-acquisition, BackType will focus on developing tools for Twitter’s publisher partners, the company said in a blog post announcing the deal.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed. BackType, which is based in San Francisco, has raised $1.3 million in venture capital since launching out of Y-Combinator in 2008.

As part of the deal, BackType has already stopped taking on new users for its BackTweets product, which helps publishers track how their Tweets covert to web traffic and sales. In its blog post announcing the sale to Twitter, BackType said it will soon discontinue its BackType product and API services.

It’s likely that a major part of BackType’s appeal to Twitter was Storm, the distributed and fault-tolerant stream processing system developed by BackType in-house. BackType touts Storm as “the Hadoop of real-time processing,” and says the technology “abstracts the message passing away, automatically parallelizes the stream computation on a cluster of machines, and lets you focus on your realtime processing logic.”

With each acquisition and new product development — from the TweetDeck buy to the launch of a native photo sharing feature —  Twitter inevitably cuts into the business ecosystem that started cropping up around it when it was a more single-purpose application. It will be interesting to see how social impact tracking startups like Klout develop their businesses now that Twitter has brought BackType’s analytics capabilities in-house.

Disclosure: BackType is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

4 Responses to “Twitter buys BackType to dig deeper with big data”

  1. From the humble beginnings in early 2006 as a mini-communication platform for the Odeo guys, Twitter seems to be everywhere now. From the mundane tweets about lunch to the live-tweeted raid in Abbottabad…from political party organizing to helpful advice & tips…from celebrity gossip to the endless “buy my stuff” drive-by’s, Twitter is everywhere.

    BackType is an important acquisition for Twitter. Smart business owners will recognize that their customers and prospects hang-out on Twitter, as well as other online properties. And, the smarter business owners will choose to hang out with them…participating in the conversation about their products and services. They’ll realize that they can help influence brand awareness, preference, and insistence. They’ll realize they can establish their expertise and “social authority”…and get more leads and customers.

    Don Roberts

    • Colleen Taylor

      Thanks for your comment, Don. I agree with you re: the importance of the BackType acquisition. Just the latest indication of how serious Twitter is about addressing the needs of bigger, paying customers like brands and companies.

  2. Brett Hallinan

    Congrats to the Backtype team! I knew they would get picked up. They’re smart guys and applying the scale of Hadoop to address the needs of publishers and marketers to understand social amplification. I look forward to seeing what products they roll out under Twitter. Data, insights and services are a much better route for Twitter to go when it comes to revenue models.