Fred Wilson, a Twitter board member and the startup’s most important investor, dropped a bombshell on Twitter’s third-party developers yesterday, telling them to stop “filling holes in the Twitter product,” and start creating “something entirely new on top of Twitter.”
We interpreted Fred’s post as a warning to developers Twitter could buy or build its own photo-uploader and mobile app, squashing third-party developers in its way.
So did a lot of Twitter developers.
Responding to our post, Fred back-tracked, commenting, “that post was my work, not Twitter’s work. While i am on the board of twitter, I don’t work there and I don’t speak for them.”
But Twitter’s third-party developers don’t buy it.
One industry source nicely summarized what many others told us they were thinking, telling us, “Fred is lying to you. Twitter was aware of his plans. This was intentional to soften the blow later and provide advance notice.”
One big reason for all the scepticism? Yesterday, plenty of Twitter employees were cheer-leading Fred’s post.
Doug Williams, who helps run Twitter’s platform, tweeted, “Incredibly timely @fredwilson piece that all Twitter developers should read http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2010/04/the-twitter-platform.html.”
A follower of Josh’s replied to that tweet, “I would be terrified reading Fred’s post if I was a hole filler startup. Thanks but now you die!” and Josh answered, “in the history of platforms, hole filling has always been a great place to start, but never a great place to end, right?”
All this cheerleading has Twitter developers very skittish. One of the guys behind one of the very most popular Twitter apps told us:
“It wouldn’t surprise me if they now deem it important to own more eyeballs. I don’t agree with this strategy but, as I said, I wouldn’t be surprised. [Twitter shouldn’t] underestimate the value of the innovation in the long tail. I hope this is not stifled if Twitter appear to be competing.”
We’ve asked Twitter CEO Ev Williams for a response to all this, but so far we’ve heard nothing.
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