For a man in part responsible for the hottest social networking phenomenon of the moment, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone revealed himself to be remarkably grounded in his address to a capacity crowd for the inaugural Cannes Lions Tweet-up held 15 minutes ago.
Stone revealed the inspiration for the platform came from instant messenger ‘away’ messages that gave information on why someone was unable to communicate at a particular moment in time. In collaboration with his fellow founders, Stone went on to build a prototype of Twitter in under 2 weeks, then tested its capabilities and appeal amongst a small group of friends.
Twitter’s instant news gathering power went on to become apparent to the group when a photojournalist they knew was covering public protests in Egypt. His hastily produced “arrested” tweet led to friends in America being able to galvanise their efforts into setting him free. Twitter, had, said Stone “told them what it needed to be” and they just “went along with the ride”.
Stone then took ‘live’ questions from ‘Tweeps’ across the globe on a big screen at the auditorium. In response to questions regarding Twitter’s plans to monetise the offering, he revealed plans were afoot to generate revenue later this year. Stone name-checked Dell and Wholefoods as brands he hoped to speak to see how Twitter could add value to them and their customers, but emphasised their commitment to building a company of enduring appeal in order to justify a fee to advertisers. Jet Blue was the brand Stone felt had utilised Twitter most effectively so far.
The news wire reach of Twitter had been revealed numerous times said Stone, citing the recent events in Iran and Mumbai, but it was complementary to traditional news sources and could be used to tighten news gathering services.
Stone also revealed that Twitter is not for sale, saying “we’re currently not in acquisition talks,” and 2009 will instead focus on tightening the product. “We’re only 1 or 2 percent into the journey that is Twitter,” he concluded.