Miley Cyrus seems to think so. As does Ashley Tisdale, David Guetta, Paris Hilton, Chris Brown, and thousands of others who have joined the site in a matter of days.
So what is Pheed?
In short, think of it as Twitter, with a business plan. We always hear of “the-next-greatest-idea” social network that thinks it has what it takes to compete with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram. Yet we also see big brands like Myspace or Google+ struggling to get in the game. So what makes Pheed any different? Why won’t this site crash and burn after a short run of attention, like so many others?
Pheed’s Secret Sauce:
It’s pretty simple, if you allow influencers to charge for content, high quality content will be produced. Pheed enables users to share all forms of digital content, including text, photo, audio, video, and live broadcasts. “Pheeders” then have the option to share for free or at a premium, either by applying a monthly subscription fee to their channel or setting up a pay-per-view live broadcast event. Users can charge anywhere from $1.99 to $34.99 per view, or $1.99 to $34.99 per month. In both cases, the user selects their own pricing and owns all of the content. Pheed makes money by taking half of the revenue, which covers bandwidth and storage, payment processing, and of course, Pheed’s profits.
The folks at Pheed see a lot of problems with current social networks –namely, the fact that users are somewhat limited on Twitter, or bored of Facebook. There’s just too much noise, and that means most of the content quality is poor. Because of this, people become focused on gaining followers rather than using the platforms for what they’re actually meant to do: share quality content.
O.D. Kobo, Pheed CEO and co-founder, who is a veteran in the game of creating successful online ventures, thinks that it is time to introduce quality content online by giving the power and platform directly to the content providers. He believes that if the option to monetize is there, users will be motivated to create quality content. Whether that’s concerts from someone’s living room or studio, comedy stand-up from the kitchen, interviews on pay-per-view, or a boxing match, there is no limit to what users can do and earn.
Miley Cyrus recently launched her own Pheed, and her audio recording drew 10,000 visitors to the site in just half a second. To me, Pheed is akin to the bonus footage that comes with a DVD—if fans really care about the celebrity, influencer, or content producer enough that they’d pay to see their private or exclusive content, Pheed will be a win-win for both the fan and the celeb.
Time will tell. Pheed has a good opportunity to succeed if it stays focused and doesn’t try to become a jack-of-all-trades. For now, it’s safe to say Pheed is a site we should all keep an eye on—its Twitter-with-a-business-model approach stands to seriously impact the social media game.
The Financial Times says Twitter has, for the first time, elected to shut off access in Germany to an account due to the group’s alleged illegal expression of pro-Nazi sentiment.
Twitter is said to have for the first time banned a Germany group’s account due to its alleged hate speech.
On the heels of a firestorm of controversy over anti-Semitic tweets in France, Twitter has for the first time banned access in Germany to a German group’s account due to its alleged hate speech.
According to the Financial Times (registration required), the San Francisco-based microblogging service has blocked access in Germany to the Twitter account belonging to an organization known as “Besseres Hannover,” which means “Better Hannover” in English. The group is said to be a neo-Nazi organization, reported Danny Sullivan of Marketingland.com. The public expression of Nazi views is illegal in Germany.
The profile header for the Twitter account of TK, which has been blocked in Germany, a report said.
(Credit: Screen shot by CNET )
Twitter’s steps toward blocking access to the Besseres Hannover account began when the company was asked by German Police to do so, according to documents uncovered by the group Chilling Effects. The police said that all the group’s social network accounts had to be shut down.
Sullivan wrote yesterday that while it’s still possible to access Besseres Hannover’s Twitteraccount in the United States — which CNET has confirmed — those in Germany are unable to do so. “This is part of the wink-wink system of ‘censorship’ that’s long been operated by Google,” Sullivan wrote. “The search engine, similar to Google, may ‘ban’ pages from appearing in certain countries. But those outside those countries (or those able to pretend they are outside of it) can still access the content.”
In a tweet last night, Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivray alluded to the company’s action against Besseres Hannover. Though he didn’t name the group that had had its German access blocked, he wrote, “We announced the ability to withhold content back in Jan. We’re using it now for the first time re: a group deemed illegal in Germany.”
Savvy use of the iTunes affiliate program means you can turn your music tweets into cash.
For those who haven’t noticed, the web version of Twitter includes an embedded iTunes app, of sorts. Tweeting an iTunes album link creates a “view album” option, which appears near the retweet and favorite buttons at the bottom of a tweet, if you’re looking at it on Twitter.com.
If you (or your band or business or whatever) tweet links to music, your followers can easily stream previews of the songs straight from the page, and click on the iTunes button to buy it.
Apple has an affiliate program for iTunes that lets you earn commissions by posting links to not only the music, but also the apps in iTunes. If someone clicks your link and purchases that content within 72 hours, you will earn a 4 percent to 5 percent commission on “all qualifying revenue generated by affiliate coded links.”
Twitter itself has taken advantage of Apple’s affiliate program by adding affiliate ID to links to the iTunes music and apps — but only in the preview pane pictured to below, and only when people click through from Twitter.com.
That means that you, your band, your brand or whatever, can, just like Twitter, get paid by tweeting links to iTunes stuff. Maybe it’s not the best way to get rich fast, but all those cents will eventually add up, and your tweets about that new album you have on repeat, or that app you can’t stop using, could end up making you some real money. Besides, if you make music that’s for sale on iTunes, you’ll get 40 cents per sale instead of the usual 35.
First, join Apple’s Affiliate Program. Then simply tweet links to iTunes stuff using your affiliate ID (Apple explains how to do this), using whatever you normally use to tweet (in other words, you don’t have to use the web version). Established artists can promote friends’ albums or express their personal musical tastes, while up-and-comers could make a little extra cash from their promotions.
There is a slight catch: If your followers access your tweets on Twitter.com and use the iTunes preview pane rather than the link in the body of your tweet, their purchase will pay Twitter instead of you.
This could also be interesting for fans, because anyone can sign up for the affiliate program, becoming part of a de facto street team, getting paid to promote stuff on Twitter. Normally, devoted fans promote their favorite bands even without getting paid — but if you’re doing it anyway, why not sign up to be an affiliate? You could stand to earn a few extra bucks from your next tweet.
Lady Gaga should be the first Twitter user in the site’s history to reach 30 million followers. Stats indicate that she should hit this major digital milestone in just under two weeks.
However, the amount of followers isn’t the yardstick by which to measure Twitter value. It’s the retweet that’s key, according to one of the site’s founders. So does the fact that Gaga amassed a huge amount of Twitter followers even matter?
Ev Williams, one of Twitter’s co-founders, said (quotes courtesy of TechCrunch), “The thing I think would be more interesting than followers is… retweets.”
He also said, “The dream metric is how many people saw your tweet.”
So essentially, Gaga’s ridiculously huge amount of followers isn’t that impressive. It’s how many people see, process and retweet her posts that really matters.
Earlier in the summer, a report came out suggesting that more than half of Gaga’s followers were either bot accounts or inactive accounts, and were therefore fake. So her 30 million followers is a bit of an inflated, flawed statistic.
Gaga may rule the Twitterverse from a sheer numbers standpoint, but Justin Bieber is nipping at her platform heels, and he should hit 30 million followers in less than two months. Katy Perry is right behind him, and stats and data indicate she’ll reach the milestone in just over two months.
If you’re into all of this political hoopla and you gauge the interest of America from the number of tweets during political events, then Michelle Obama has put the Democrats into the driver’s seat with her speech tonight. Well, if the sentiment sways towards her party along with the numbers.
On my train ride home from the TCHQ, my entire feed was filled with nothing but nice things to say about the speech from the first lady. Twitter shared some stats from the night, and it wasn’t just my feed that blew up:
These impressive numbers put the Democratic National Convention way ahead of its Republican counterpart in just its first night:
Although it’s just the first night at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, people have already posted more than 3 million Tweets, including #DNC2012 and related terms. In comparison, there were 4 million Tweets sent throughout the three days of last week’s Republican National Convention (#RNC2012).
Among tonight’s keynotes, First Lady Michelle Obama’s (@MichelleObama) primetime speech peaked at 28,003 Tweets per minute (TPM) at its conclusion — nearly double Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s (@MittRomney) 14,289 peak. One line in her speech this evening — “we’ve got so much more to do” — saw 22,004 TPM.
If Kal Penn talks to an empty sofa, expect these numbers to skyrocket. The next step though is for a sentiment analysis company to step in and tell us what all of these tweets mean for each party. That’s not my bag, though.
If you missed the speech, give it a watch:
This past week I heard two rational arguments on the fate of Twitter from two smart investors.
One was an argument that it’ll likely fail in its bid to become a public company. The logic went like this: Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga have proven the private markets are fundamentally horrible at valuing companies. In the early stages, that doesn’t particularly matter. But when you get into pre-IPO secondary shares being bought and sold, it does. Just ask the people who bought pre-IPO shares of all three of those companies.
Twitter — with its relative lack of a business — was always a more dubious growth bet than those other three, buoyed by the sheer strength of its product. And now, there’s just no way it’s worth anything close to the $8 billion it was valued at at the last round, this person argued. If Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga have all had a greater than 50 percent haircut — Twitter can’t evendream of going public now.
This doesn’t mean Twitter is going under. The company has enough cash to grind it out and it could always raise more money — albeit a larger valuation might prove a challenge until some of the questions around its business model are answered. But odds are, this person argued, in this new public market reality, with Twitter’s business still very much TBD, the company will sell for less than its last valuation to a Google or a Microsoft.
The other argument was for why Twitter is in a far better position than Facebook. This had to do less with its current revenues or valuations, and more with future prospects. Twitter’s ads — while nascent — just work better, this person argued. Twitter is a simpler product (or will be, now that it’s asserting more control over how users interact with it), and when inserted in a stream responsibly, people don’t tune their ads out the way they do on Facebook. Also, unlike Facebook, its audience transitioning from Web-to-mobile isn’t a problem for its business. Twitter has always been heavily mobile. Its ad products can work equally well on either.
Neither of these investors had a clear agenda. One of these arguments was made by someone invested in both Twitter and Facebook, one was argued by someone invested in neither. Taken together, the conversations demonstrate something weird going on: Unlike the cases of Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga, Silicon Valley people in the know have no fucking clue what to make of Twitter. What’s more, they haven’t for years. Because no company has ever defied the odds quite like this.
Developers feel just as torn: While Twitter keeps smacking them in the face with potentially company-ending moves, there’s still no other platform quite like it. Even some of Twitter’s biggest fans feel split on what the product has become.
Part of that is circumstantial: The fortunes of the three horsemen of the IPO apocalypse have been so shockingly bad, after years of pent up enthusiasm. That hits everyone. Or put a better way: They have been shockingly bad relative to what everyone expected.
Had the private markets valued them more rationally, we’d be marveling at the size of Facebook’s market cap — even 50 percent lower than at its debut. We’d be stunned that something as seemingly frivolous as the many iterations of Farmville was worth anything close to the market cap of EA. And the fact that anyone in the hard to win local space had created any company worth $2 billion in just a few years would be impressive. These three would be successes, not failures.
But expectations matter. And like it or not, these companies are all considered goats now, which has to trickle down to other companies priced in that same mania.
But the uncertainty over what to make of Twitter goes well beyond recent macro events. Twitter has long defied all start up reason.
When this era of Silicon Valley history comes to a close, the most fascinating book will be written about Twitter — not Facebook. If I didn’t have a company to build and a baby to raise, I’d be tempted to spend the next year or so of my life trying to best Nick Bilton at this.
Facebook was always an outlier — a once in a decade success story by a young kid who came out of nowhere and built something huge. But while rare, we’ve seen those sorts of outliers before. Twitter is something even more uncommon: A company that has violated nearly every spoken or unspoken rule for how you build a successful company in the Valley. You hear it muttered everywhere in startup circles these days: This company should never have made it this far. And yet, here it is. Recent haters aside, it’s still the most significant private company to watch in the consumer Internet space.
A short list of said violations:
- Twitter shouldn’t have even been started to begin with. It grew out of the failed podcasting company Odeo. Being spawned out of failure isn’t so uncommon, but the way Odeo ceased doing business was. Founder Evan Williams just accepted this company wasn’t going anywhere and bought out his investors. It was a rare “let’s call a spade a spade” admission of failure in a Valley that has become obsessed with finding soft landings. Had Odeo followed, say, the Digg playbook, its staff and assets could have wound up a part of a lame company like Yahoo, where any ideas would have withered, and staff would have bided its time until they could leave. That would have included an unknown engineer named Jack Dorsey and a fledgling idea called Twittr. And when Williams did the uncommon nice guy move of buying out his investors at a far more generous price than what Odeo was worth, he managed to keep investors happy and keep Twitter from starting life with a totally screwed up cap table.
- Revolving door of CEOs. If one thing has characterized this wave of Web 2.0 and social media companies, it has been slavishly holding to the belief that founder CEOs should never be ousted. Twitter has ousted not one but two. That’s also led to a revolving door in senior management and a few waves of ousting and reconfiguring the board. People in the Valley like to believe that teams — not products — matter, or that it’s all about execution, not the idea. But Twitter is proving the opposite. The product has been compelling enough to survive three teams. It’s hard to come up with another example of a company that has not only survived that, but gone on to thrive.
- Almost no product innovation. At all. The Web version of Twitter has changed remarkably little since its inception. Most of the innovation, has come from the developer ecosystem. Indeed most of the features like @s, #s, and the like came from the community, not Twitter. Most companies that survive on the strength of their product actually have product innovation from time to time or get passed by a competitor. Not the case with Twitter, so far.
- Twitter’s product visionary is the CEO…of another company. Okay, Twitter apologists say, so there’s a revolving door at the CEO and board level. But Dorsey is still the chief product guy, and he was the founder. That’d be an important caveat in Twitter’s favor, were Dorsey not also running the hugely ambitious Square. Plenty of smart investors have passed up on investing in both Square and Twitter because of concerns about Dorsey splitting his time. But so far there seems very little outward evidence that this is the disaster that it should be. The only model for someone doing this effectively is Steve Jobs, who was running Pixar and Apple for a time. But his focus and heart was clearly with Apple. And, that was Steve Jobs. If your entire company is being bolstered by its product, and you are expecting your product guru to be Steve Jobs, well, good luck to you.
- Biting the hands developing for you. Every startup wants to be a platform these days, and every platform needs an army of developers. Twitter has it and is continually pissing it off. I totally get the business reasons for why. But the problem Twitter has is consistency. Early on, it was one of the most developer-friendly applications, flinging the doors wide open for development in ways most other platforms didn’t. But that’s what happens when you change CEOs three times. The entire company changes.
Pretty damning right? And yet, given how much my company relies on Twitter for distribution and how much I use it — more than nearly any other Web app — even I can’t count them out.
The Facebooks and Googles are rare. But if Twitter can actually turn this legacy into a successful, lasting public company, if it doesn’t flame out and become the tale of what could have been, we will have witnessed a singular event in the history of Silicon Valley.
Either Dick Costolo has sold his soul to the devil, or he will be considered a turnaround god.
Are you a social media superstar, or is your Twitter feed just a soapbox for a soulless animatronic audience? StatusPeople is a humbling web application that reveals the percentage of followers that are fake or inactive. Obama has a whopping 31% fake followers (or 6 million of 19 million), Twitter queen, Lady Gaga, has 27%–which makes us feel like a people magnet with a comparatively tiny 20%. Twitter occasionally cleanses its universe of robots with a mass purge, but is clearly struggling to keep up a motivated army of spammers and purchased accounts.
“There’s a tremendous cachet associated with having a large number,” comedian Dan Nainan told The New York Times, after admitting to buying 220,000 fake followers. “When people see that you have that many followers, they’re like: ‘Oh, my goodness, this guy is popular. I might want to book him.” Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have both been accused of trying to appear more tech-savvy by buying their way to fame. It’s unclear whether Romney or someone else paid for his followers, but a massive spike in his social media popularity earlier this Summer was definitely at odds with his stagnant poll numbers.
Not all celebrity accounts with loads of robotic followers have scrupulously bought their way to fame. In many cases, famous people are a tempting target for spammers hocking their message via @replys, or are simply just popular with the roughly half of Twitter accounts that tried out social networking and never came back (numbers current as of 2011).
StatusPeople, and the headlines it’s generated, may drive more people to alternative metrics of popularity, such as Klout, which quantifies follower engagement in addition to volume. But, such measures are rife with inaccuracies.
In reality, maybe some robot love isn’t all that bad. When MIT developed one of the first artificial intelligence systems, ELIZA, some users began to show actual affection for the simple question-and-answer software. Or, you can always move to Japan, snag a robot girlfriend, and share your most intimate moments with your fake followers.
Twitter’s been kind of distant lately, what with all their new rules and everything, and now they’re sort-of breaking up with Tumblr. But Tumblr doesn’t want them to break up because they’ve been together for so long, and this was all so out of the blue. Things are very complicated right now.
On Wednesday afternoon, Buzzfeed’s Matt Buchanan put on his robe and wizard hat and tried to figure out which companies were going to feel the wrath of Twitter because of the company’s new privacy guidelines everyone’s worked up over. “Currently, when you sign up, Tumblr offers to poke through who you’re following on Twitter, giving it access to your follow and interest data. This is data that Twitter does not want it to have, particularly as they’ve effectively both become media companies,” he explained.
Buchanan already knows he’s right, because shortly after his post went up The Next Web reported Twitter isn’t allowing Tumblr to use their ‘Find Friends’ app anymore. Tumblr users can still send their posts out using a built-in widget, but they’re no longer allowed to search for their followers’ Tumblrs. In a statement, Tumblr played the mom card and said they were ‘truly disappointed,’ by Twitter’s decision. “Given our history of embracing their platform, this is especially upsetting. Our syndication feature is responsible for hundreds of millions of tweets, and we eagerly enabled Twitter Cards across 70 million blogs and 30 billion posts as one of Twitter’s first partners,” Tumblr said, rehashing the good times of the relationship. Elsewhere, some Twitter staffers aren’t pleased with how the company’s been handling the break up. Twitter engineer Alex Choi told the New York Times‘ Nick Bilton that “this @tumblr business just stinks,” after Bilton defended the move.
So, why? Why break up now instead of later? Twitter’s staying tight lipped. They pointed to the same statement they gave when they pulled the same feature from Instagram. Like, Twitter’s actual response to this was, “see our Instagram statement.” Which, if you’re wondering, says:
“We understand that there’s great value associated with Twitter’s follow graph data, and we can confirm that it is no longer available within Instagram.”
Replace Instagram with Tumblr and you get the drill. This is like getting broken up with via a recycled note. “Dear Jessica, Tumblr, I think it’s time we see other people. It’s not you, it’s me. I just need my space right now. I need to be independent. Hope we can still hangout, Twitter.” That’s the note they passed to Tumblr.
As Twitter faces criticism for controversial changes to its API, it is celebrating the one-year birthday of Bootstrap, its open source front-end framework for web development, with the release of version 2.1 with simplified documentation and fixes to more than 100 issues.
Mark Otto, one of the designers in charge of Bootstrap, said in an official blog post that his team “focused on simplicity” for the update. The project also received a “handful of new features” and improvements to existing ones.
Within months of last year’s initial release, Bootstrap became the most popular repository on coding service GitHub. It remains the most popular starred and second-most popular forked project on the site, as of August 20.
“Bootstrap wouldn’t be the success it is today without a lot of love and support from the development and open source communities,” Otto wrote, adding that more than 100 people have contributed code to the framework.
Twitter says its service is “built on open source software from the back-end to the front-end”. Earlier this year, it released Cassie, a client for Cassandra, to the community, and some of the software from Whisper Systems, an Android security developer that it acquired.
The company has also partnered up with GitHub on the open source TwUI interface framework that powers the official Twitter for Mac app.
While Twitter may have built up goodwill with developers by way of its participation in open source, poorly-communicated changes to its API have threatened to squander it. On its way to a billion users, the service has been accused of casting aside third-party developers, especially those building Twitter clients.
Not all have chafed at the new API, though. For instance, Tweetbot’s developers responded by telling people not to panic, as the rules might not be as restrictive as some have assumed.
Shortly after Twitter announced a stricter set of rules for its application programming interface (API), developers and engineers turned to platform to use the #OccupyTwitter hashtag in protest.
“Twitter’s API has more rules than North Korea,” said Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.
Nova Spivack, CEO of Bottlenose.com, started a Change.org petition to urge Twitter to keep its developer API ecosystem open. He said, “Twitter, what kind of bird are you becoming? Are you still that cute little bird that everyone loved, or are you becoming a scary bird of prey?”
“Blind people use special third party Twitter apps,” Spivack added on Twitter. “If Twitter closes its APIs they will be cut off.”
While Spivack’s fears might be overblown, it’s clear that Twitter seeks to limit the number of third-party app users by barring apps from supporting more than 100,000 users. If they already over the limit, they will not be allowed to grow beyond 200% of their user base without Twitter’s permission.
Aside from limiting user growth, Twitter will be imposing more stringent authentication rules. It will also compel developers to take a different direction in creating apps by “encouraging” them to focus on engagement and analytics. After the updated API is launched, developers will have a six-month deadline to to migrate to the new version.
Tom Scott, creator of Klouchebag, predicted that the changes would cause his site’s death in six months. “They’re steadily squeezing out third-party clients like Tweetbot, Echofon and Dabr, and they’re removing unauthenticated API calls,” Scott said in a blog entry. “The latter means that every Twitter app, no matter how minor, will require a ‘Sign in with Twitter’ button. For me, the immediate effect of this is that my Klout parody Klouchebag, along with a few other things I’ve designed, will die.”
What do you think of using Twitter as a way to protest against Twitter’s new API? Should developers just accept the new rules without complaint? Let us know in the comments.