Conde Nast Portfolio, has an interview with Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter where he talks about making money and managing a start up. Portfolio, by the way is one may favourite business magazines both for it’s content and presentation. Asked, perhaps for the millionth time, about Twitter making money:
I can’t imagine how many times you’ve been asked, “But how will you make money?”
We will make money, and I can’t say exactly how, because we can’t predict exactly what’s going to work.
Advertising is probably not it? We think there could be more interesting models. Those include the corporate users, who are using it in a bunch of different ways, either to sell goods or take advantage of the real-time aspect of the site. There are all kinds of goods and services that have a scarcity component, and people want the information as soon as possible, so they opt in to receive updates through Twitter.
The most talked about instance of a brand making money on Twitter is Dell. People who sign up to follow Dell receive messages or tweets when discounted products are available at the company’s Twitter Outlet. There are now 65 Dell accounts or Dell Twitter Groups on Twitter and the Dell Outlet one has nearly 170,000 followers. Dell reported that offers from its Dell Outlet Twitter account had led to more than $1 million in revenue. That’s small change for a company of Dell’s size.
A share of such commercial activity on Twitter seems a likely source of revenue as suggested here and here. While there are enough naysayers about Twitter, I for one hope it becomes commercially viable soon. And am glad that they are looking beyond advertising revenues to sustain them.