Twitter embraces its data and buys Gnip

Twitter has acquired Gnip, the Boulder, Colo.-based startup that specializes in giving users access to data from the Twitter firehose. Gnip is one of a handful of companies with full access to the stream of activity from Twitter, which has garnered it a lot of knowledge about how to deal with such immense data volumes and deliver it as a product to businesses. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

For Twitter, buying Gnip (which also provides data on more than a dozen other social media platforms, including Tumblr and Foursquare) means it can provide users with the type of data they’ve always wanted, but that Twitter never seemed too keen on delivering. Rather than providing arbitrary stats about tweets per minute or trending topics around entertainment events, Gnip lets its users search for and receive every single tweet (and all the surrounding metadata) that meets their criteria. Its most-used service is the streaming service, but Gnip also offers historical searches from the entire body of tweets.

Based on Twitter’s blog post announcing the acquisition, it sounds as if Twitter intends to keep Gnip’s business intact and, in fact, expand it:

“We want to make our data even more accessible, and the best way to do that is to work directly with our customers to get a better understanding of their needs….

“We believe Gnip has only begun to scratch the surface. Together we plan to offer more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments, so that even more developers and businesses big and small around the world can drive innovation using the unique content that is shared on Twitter. We will continue making our data available to Gnip’s growing customer base. And with the help of Gnip’s Boulder-based team, we will be extending our data platform — through Gnip and our existing public APIs — even further.”

A portion of the amount of data Gnip delivers about tweets.
A portion of the amount of data Gnip delivers about tweets.

Gnip isn’t the first data-based startup that Twitter has acquired. It bought analytics specialist Lucky Sort in May 2013, but has yet to roll out that technology — which could be similar to Google Analytics for Twitter — into a service for users (at least far as I have seen).

Gnip is one of a handful of companies with complete access to the Twitter firehose, with the two other prominent ones being DataSift and Topsy. DataSift is very similar to Gnip in terms of the type of service it offers, and it announced in December that it had raised $42 million in venture capital and $73 million since 2010. Topsy offers higher-level analytics, including some simple search and trend data that’s even free to the public, and Apple bought it for $200 million in December.