Three years ago, I founded my third company. I left my old company, risked my livelihood (again), put my social life on hold and bootstrapped Chirpify myself for over a year… because of Twitter.
I was so enthralled with the potential and promise of what Twitter had created, that I had to be a part of what I knew was going to be a fundamental shift in the way people live and communicate.
Now, on the eve of Twitter’s IPO, I feel a certain kinship. It’s like the idea — the promise that I first connected with —is being validated by the world at large in the free market equivalent of a Super Bowl victory.
And so, as Twitter prepares for their grand entrance, there are a few things that I hope they take with them to the party — so as not to squander the potential that still inspires me today
1. Continue to innovate & disrupt
Twitter emerged as a fundamentally new means of communication — one that democratized and decentralized the flow of information between people, companies and even governments. Twitter’s decentralization, one of the premier value props highlighted by CEO Dick Costolo (@DickC) in the Twitter IPO roadshow, is the single most important fact about the platform. Compared to their social counterparts, it’s their differentiator, and the reason they have become a utility, like your electric company.
As inevitable revenue pressures and quarterly earnings targets become a fact of life, don’t stop pushing the envelope and being a disruptor — even if the revenue model takes more than 90 days to pan out. There’s still a lot to change, improve and re-invent.
2. Don’t settle for existing business models
Having reshaped media and communication, Twitter now has the opportunity to reshape the business models surrounding those industries as well. Don’t just fall back to display ads and brand referrals. Those are well understood, advertisers know how to buy them, and I’m sure they’ll have their place.
But as with all things, money determines the way the game is played, and if the *only* money is coming from display ads, then the user experience will likely trend toward a more traditional one as well. There is life outside of cost-per-click advertising. If we agree that Twitter is your new electric company, and social is becoming your online identity, then we can agree the opportunity for innovative models are plenty.
When the current flows through your pipes, and it carries who you are, the opportunity to create new engagements, conversions and experiences not seen in traditional ad business models of the past become evident.
3. Keep architecting the next Web
For a long time, the Internet has been about sites, browsers and email. Twitter is different. Sure, there are other forces at work too: Facebook, mobile, location, etc. But Twitter is a major part of rewiring the Internet to work in a fundamentally different way.
Don’t stop rewiring the web. The fact that Twitter has an asymmetrical model for “following” celebrities, brands and news gives everyone unfettered access to content from around the globe — instantly and without censorship. It is literally reengineering the landscape of the Internet, and making good on some Internet promises that seemed almost forgotten. Don’t quit now.
4. Support the ecosystem
Whenever a company goes public, it’s always a “moment of truth” for their ecosystem — the companies that have built products, services and capabilities around their platform. And sometimes that’s a trade-off, because that ecosystem is providing value that could be monetized by the company itself.
Twitter not only needs to support their ecosystem, but aid in its growth by laying more pipes that spark the imagination of developers like us. It hasn’t always been easy to work with Twitter, as sometimes there hasn’t been as much clarity around their partners and policies as there could be.
I believe the developer and entrepreneur community surrounding Twitter is one of the most talented in the world. This ecosystem has engineered some of its best features, and most innovative business models and solutions. I hope Twitter taps into that to keeping pushing the envelope.
I’m proud to have been a part of this chapter of Twitter’s history, and looking forward to the next one!
Chris Teso is the founder of Chirpify, a 2-year-old Portland startup that activates hashtags for instant marketing and commerce conversion on social media, at live events, on TV and more. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisTeso.
Coming up on GeekWire, GeekWire columnist Monica Guzman: Twitter’s bittersweet IPO: Our little social media’s all grown up