The mega micro-messaging company didn’t really need to buy Tweetdeck last month; but the $40 million-$50 million Twitter spent acquiring the software application that organizes tweets allowed it to snap up engineering talent as the company’s own CTO was exiled and it bolted on technology it will likely need later. The Tweetdeck deal probably also gave lift to the hopes of investors who are backing any of a fistful of photo sharing sites dependent on Twitter’s platform. But it shouldn’t have.
For Twitter’s in-house development, the company has also reportedly decided to launch a photosharing service similar to existing apps like Twitpic and Yfrog. An announcement could come as early as today, but the notion has been months in the making; earlier in 2011 Twitter engineer Ryan Sarver stated software developers should not “build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.”
Too bad that statement came after more than a dozen varying photo sharing sites took flight.
How many photo sharing websites do consumers need to sufficiently interact with one another through Twitter? To put it another way, how many ways are there currently to upload a photo to Facebook? Well, with Twitter potentially ringing the death knell for each of its outside app providers, consider the inventory: photo sharing titans would include Twitpic and Yfrog. Still others would include TwitrPix, Twitgoo, Twic.li, Flickr, mobypicture, SmugMug, Ow.ly, and Plixi, formerly named TweetPhoto before its sale. Oh, there’s also Instragr.am, too. And picplz. And likely a few more still, after that.
One VC put it succinctly—and, this, was weeks before Twitter announced plans to scrape off each of the photo sharing barnacles latched onto the keel of the S.S. Dorsey—when he said “I wouldn’t put any money into a company dependent on Twitter for its business model.”
However, it looks like investors Eastman Kodak, Qualcomm, Anthem Ventures and Canaan Partners picked a wise time to exit their investment in Plixi—formerly TweetPhoto—when they unloaded it to Lockerz earlier this year, for a price tag that ranged from $5 million to $15 million (depending on whose report you read, as accounts over the transaction price varied widely). The company had been renamed Plixi to distance it from the Twitter brand, and, since it raised just over $2.5 million, regardless of what reported price was paid, Plixi/TweetPhoto’s backers took a win.
Perhaps one thing Twitter should consider building into its new photo sharing technology is IP address recognition, or anything else that could have saved New York Congressman Anthony Weiner a little embarrassment over the holiday weekend when his account was reportedly hacked, allowing a lewd photo to be presented to Weiner’s nearly 50,000 followers through his profile page.
But that’s probably not Twitter’s first concern. First, Twitter needs to take back money it has lost to other companies capable of better harnessing its advertising clout than it at first did. And that certainly doesn’t mean buying out each and every one of them—just taking their business back from Twitter’s platform.