Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, who stepped down from the CEO position in October, closed the Web 2.0 Summit this evening, taking the stage with cohost John Battelle.So is he happy that he stepped down as CEO? He said so, as it’s allowed him to participate in the Twitter redesign. More to the point, he was never sure he wanted to be CEO in the first place, and dealing with investors and the business side was a “sucky job.”
That didn’t stop him from talking about money. After being unable to answer questions about Twitter’s revenue model at last year’s summit, now Williams has an answer: promoted tweets and trends. Predictably, he claimed that the “promoted suite” is doing well, with demand outstripping supply, but he didn’t offer revenue numbers.
He also talked a bit about another emerging revenue stream: selling access to its “firehose” of data. Last year, they announced deals to incorporate Twitter data into Bing and Google. But the company found that demand was much bigger than they expected, so they partnered with Gnip to sell portions of the firehose–but not the whole thing.
Later, he acknowledged that Twitter hasn’t done a very good job turning it into a platform for developers. For example, when they bought Tweetie, that more or less stopped third-party development of Twitter apps for iPhone. He also admitted that he didn’t know whether Twitter would add photo sharing, but he wouldn’t call it “safe.” Developers working in that space might want to watch out.
As he put it, “We’re not going to make our product worse” by refusing to build something just because a third party already has, although “we’re probably not building games.”
Will they take money from Digital Sky, as rumoured yesterday? He wouldn’t say, but said that the company has “plenty of money in the bank.”