Twitter founder and board member Ev Williams is sick of all the love Facebook gets.
Williams said the following about Facebook and Instagram to Erin Griffith at Fortune:
It’s a question of breadth versus depth. Why is users the only thing we talk about? The crazy thing: Facebook has done an amazing job of establishing that as the metric for Wall Street. No one ever talks about, ‘What is a [monthly active user]?’ I believe it’s the case that if you use Facebook Connect — if you use an app that you logged into with Facebook Connect — you’re considered a Facebook user whether or not you ever launched the Facebook app or went to Facebook.com. So what does that mean? It’s become so abstract to be meaningless. Something you did caused some data in their servers to be recorded for the month. So I think we’re on the wrong path.
If you think about the impact Twitter has on the world versus Instagram, it’s pretty significant. It’s at least apples to oranges. Twitter is what we wanted it to be. It’s this realtime information network where everything in the world that happens on Twitter — important stuff breaks on Twitter and world leaders have conversations on Twitter. If that’s happening, I frankly don’t give a shit if Instagram has more people looking at pretty pictures.
It’s rare to see Williams lash out like this.
But, Twitter executives have long grumbled about the fixation on monthly active users. They believe that Facebook gets credit for people that don’t actually use Facebook, merely use Facebook Connect. Meanwhile, Twitter gets no credit for all the tweets that are seen off Twitter.com or in Twitter’s app.
So… about that.
Even if there are a ton of Facebook users that are just using Facebook Connect, and not using Facebook, Facebook is still gathering data on their behaviour, which is valuable.
Tweets that are seen off the page are not as valuable because there is no clear way to monetise those tweets right now.
There is no question that Twitter has a massive impact on the world. It’s a magnificent company that has changed the world. But, investors are sceptical that Twitter will be able to build a massive business with 1/4 of the users of Facebook.
Twitter can prove everyone wrong by building a giant business. And when it does that, the stock will fly to the moon, and Williams, and everyone else at Twitter will become even more fabulously wealthy.
If investors are wrong about Twitter’s potential, it wouldn’t be the first time they got it wrong.
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