Twitter just shut down UberTwitter, twidroyd, and UberCurrent, saying the apps “have been suspended due to policy violations.”
All three of those apps belong to Bill Gross’s startup, UberMedia.
UberMedia is also in the process of buying popular Twitter app TweetDeck.
Earlier this week, UberMedia raised $17.5 million from Facebook investors Accel Partners.
In a blog post titled, “I’m Having Problems Logging In to UberTwitter or twidroyd,” Twitter says, “We have suspended UberTwitter and twidroyd for violating our policies.”
“Every day, we suspend hundreds of applications that are in violation of our policies. Generally, these apps are used by a small number of users. We are taking the unusual step of sharing this with you because today’s suspension may affect a larger number of users.”
In the same post, Twitter links to Twitter-owned apps for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
Why is Twitter so furious at Uber?
An UberMedia rep says, “Haven’t a clue at this point, but I’ll be in touch as soon as I can dig up anything.”
In an email to TechCrunch, Twitter says “violations include, but aren’t limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money.”
Other, unmentioned possibilities include…
- 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 bothers 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?”
We don’t have all the facts in front of us, but on the surface, this seems like a poor decision on Twitter’s part.
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.
Further, Twitter wants to become a platform company like Facebook or Google. For that to happen, though, Twitter needs a business or two to grow up and become dependent on the platform. Then, Twitter would be able to either tax that business the way Apple taxes iPhone app-makers and Facebook taxes Zynga.
Even if UberMedia is not destined to be THE business that figures out monetization for Twitter or turns Twitter into a platform company, Twitter’s draconian measures here might keep other entreprenuers from trying.