Business

Thursday Buzz: How Twitter Solved Its Revenue Problem

Sometimes the solution to a revenue problem might seem obvious to you—but not so obvious to the outside world. Case in point? Twitter. Also: As John Boehner’s successful effort to get Pope Francis to speak to Congress proves, it never hurts to ask.

“I always joked that the press reported as if we were looking for a business model that we lost somewhere. Maybe it’s under the couch. Where is the business model? But no one has ever built a consumer internet thing that reached scale that they couldn’t earn money on.”

Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, the source of the quote above, is looking pretty smart these days. In the wake of the social network’s breakout success, a common refrain among business analysts was that the company was likely to reach a Facebook-level scale, but only if it could figure out how to make money.

As it turns out, Twitter has had the opposite problem. It’s a company that can make a billion dollars in revenue but has yet to amass the  same number of users as Facebook. (In fact, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram are also larger than Twitter—though Twitter probably has more active users than Google’s social network.)

So while Wall Street may be freaking out that Twitter isn’t seeing the growth it promised, the issue isn’t revenue.

Medium’s tech section, BackChannel, breaks down the company’s fiscal evolution. It’s a good reminder that a revenue model might be right under your nose, even if it doesn’t seem obvious to the outside world at first.

(It’s worth noting that Williams is the CEO of Medium.)

Speaker Announcement of the Day

It’s not every day that a pope addresses Congress—in fact, it’s never happened before—but that’s about to change. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced this week that Pope Francis has agreed to speak to a joint session of Congress on September 24.

“In a time of global upheaval, the Holy Father’s message of compassion and human dignity has moved people of all faiths and backgrounds,“ Boehner said in a news release. “His teachings, prayers, and very example bring us back to the blessings of simple things and our obligations to one another. We look forward to warmly welcoming Pope Francis to our Capitol and hearing his address on behalf of the American people.”

Boehner sent an invitation to the pontiff [PDF] last year. It was something of a tough gambit, but Boehner pulled it off.

The lesson for associations? When it comes to trying to nab a great speaker, don’t be afraid to aim high. You never know whom you might get.

Other Links of Note

Stink at making graphics? Communication expert Kerri Karvetski gets it—she’s in the same boat, but her roundup of tools on Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog is bound to make anyone look more visually adept.

If video is freaking you out, this roundup of tips from CMSWire should help you get going.

We don’t usually get to write the phrase “productivity tips from an astronaut,” but Lifehacker shows that there’s a first time for everything.

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. (photo by Christopher Michel/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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