Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Twitter to seek business revenue

Twitter to seek revenue from businesses
* Twitter to offer business services in 2009
* May try several revenue models this year
* Set to offer commercial accounts

By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Internet start-up
Twitter is taking a much-anticipated first-step in its quest to
parlay its popularity into revenue by offering certain
customers an expanded range of services.
The company is preparing to offer commercial accounts in
which corporations and other types of businesses pay a fee to
receive an enhanced version of Twitter, a free service that
allows people to send short, 140-character text messages to
their network of friends.
"We think there will be opportunities to provide services
to commercial entities that help them get even more value out
of Twitter. If these services are valuable to companies, we
think they may want to pay for them," Biz Stone, co-founder of
Twitter, said in an e-mail sent to Reuters.
San Francisco, California-based Twitter has enjoyed a surge
in popularity since its creation three years ago, despite the
fact that the company has yet to make any money. According to
Nielsen Online, which measures Internet traffic, Twitter's Web
site had more than 7 million unique visitors in February,
compared to 475,000 in February 2008.
Last year, the company turned down a $500 million
acquisition offer by social networking powerhouse Facebook. And
some observers have speculated that Google Inc might
have its eye on Twitter, because of Twitter's so-called real
time search capabilities.
Twitter recently closed a round of venture capital
financing pegged at $35 million by media reports, following two
earlier funding rounds totaling $20 million.
While Twitter initially planned to begin seeking revenue in
2010, the company recently decided to accelerate the schedule
and find ways to monetize its service this year.
On Monday, Microsoft Corp and online marketing
firm Federated Media rolled out a special Website dubbed
ExecTweets that allows individuals to monitor Twitter messages
of business executives.
Stone said Twitter has just hired someone to work on
creating commercial products. He would not say when Twitter's
commercial accounts product is set to be introduced, but said
it would be sometime in 2009.
"We have lots of time for experimentation with regard to
revenue generation, so we'll probably be trying a few different
things this year," said Stone.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing Bernard Orr)

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