Why Is Twitter So Afraid Of This Man?

 Bill Gross just got more money to fuel his campaign to buy Twitter clients – and possibly build a rival to Twitter itself.

Gross company UberMedia announced today that it has raised $17.5 million from Accel Ventures.

UberMedia, which already owns popular Twitter apps for the desktop, BlackBerry, Android, and iPhone, is currently in the process of acquiring TweetDeck.

This money will, in large part, go toward that acquisition – rumoured to be a cash and stock deal worth as much as $30 million.

What exactly is Gross up to, collecting all these Twitter apps?

At the very least, he is trying to aggregate Twitter’s users and figure out a way to make money off them.

If he can do that, it would, in reality, be great news for Twitter. CEO Dick Costolo is having a hard time coming up with a way to make money. If UberMedia figures it out, Twitter has enough funding and brand power to be able to buy UberMedia or just copy it.

But people say the relationship between Gross and Twitter, while recently smoothed over, remains strained.

One source briefed on today’s news before it was announced tells us UberMedia wanted to keep the investment quiet because “Twitter does not really like this Bill Gross sideshow and there is fear of a freak.”

Why the tension?

Some possibilities…

  • There is suspicion in some quarters that Gross is roping all these Twitter apps together to build a network between them that would rival Twitter’s.
  • Some say the issue is the Facebook influence over UberMedia will bother Twitter. Accel partner Jim Breyer, who sits on Facebook’s board, will now also take a seat on UberMedia’s board.
  • One source says Twitter hates the idea of letting another company control its UX/UI, and doesn’t think it needs to be shown how to make money.
  • It’s possible Twitter worries that Google or Facebook will see buying UberMedia and using it as a toe-hold to launch a Twitter clone as a cheaper alternative to spending $10 billion to buy Twitter. One source close to TweetDeck hints: “Uber-oogle?”

Reached about the investment early this morning, Gross declined to comment.

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