With 100 million active users and as many as 6,000 tweets per second, Twitter contains a huge trove of valuable data.
DataSift helps companies analyse and make sense of that data.
The company just launched its service to the public after a beta-testing period, moved its headquarters to San Francisco, and hired a new CEO, Rob Bailey. (Bailey was at mobile location service SimpleGeo, which just sold to Urban Airship a couple weeks ago.)
Quite a week.
The company celebrated with an event in San Francisco last night. There, Bailey told us that he thinks Twitter is missing a big opportunity by focusing more on selling advertising than on licensing its data.
But that creates a huge opportunity for DataSift, which is only one of two companies that licenses Twitter’s full “firehose” of data. (The other is Gnip, which delivers social media information to enterprise apps. Microsoft also licenses some Twitter data for use in Bing search results.)
Founder Nick Halstead, who also founded Tweetmeme, demonstrated how the product works, and it’s pretty sophisticated.
For instance, you can see not only how a particular topic is trending on Twitter, but also things like gender breakdown (strangely, when there’s a spike in tweets about Justin Bieber, most of the new tweeters are female) and cross references (like how many tweets contain both “Google” and “music”). It also helpfully restores shortened URLs to their full length.
So what happens when Twitter wakes up and decides that its future is in selling data rather than selling ad space?
Bailey said he hopes the company leaves it to partners who already know how to do that work, like DataSift. One reason why the company is moving to the U.S. is to build its customer base quickly. It’s focusing now on advertisers and brands, but there are other possible applications, like law enforcement.
The other logical possibility would be an acquisition by Twitter. When I asked Halstead about that, he smiled and said, “You never know. You might see me on a beach someday.”