Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

TweetMeme Closes Its Doors as Founders Focus on Social Analytics

The writing is on the wall for third-party Twitter developers. As Twitter made crystal clear in a blog post last month, it’s high time for devs to move toward the Twitter-endorsed area of growth: Business, not consumer.

Some are getting this faster than others. Example: TweetMeme CEO Nick Halstead announced on Wednesday that the company would soon close the doors on the popular, consumer-facing product.

The TweetMeme product was originally built as a curation tool, helping users on the casual consumer level to surface the most relevant, popular links across different categories. TweetMeme tracked the most shared tweets on Twitter, breaking them down into sub-groups so that users could browse them more easily, sort of like a Digg for Twitter.

But as of October 1, the site will shut down for good. And the reasoning, Halstead spells out for us, is simple: Going forward, that’s not where the money is.

“Three years on and the consumer news market has moved on,” Halstead wrote in his post. “We will be sad to see TweetMeme go, but it is no longer competitive or cost effective for us to continue to keep the infrastructure going behind it.”

Sure, it’s probably a bummer for those who use TweetMeme to find interesting things amid the 400 million tweets that flow through Twitter’s pipes every single day. But Twitter is trying to beef up its own capabilities on this front. In the past year, we’ve seen the company pay more attention to the “Discovery” tab, which aims to surface the most relevant tweets depending on your interests and the people you follow (though admittedly, it has a long way to go). And Twitter updated its search functionality in 2011, so that users can comb through tweets much more easily on Twitter.com.

But more importantly, it’s not that TweetMeme is an outright failure; it’s that DataSift, the company’s other business, is booming.

Granted, it’s not as immediately sexy as a consumer-facing service. DataSift takes in the vast amount of Twitter information and analyzes it, then spits out those analyses in digestible formats for businesses. It’s potentially valuable for brands trying to gather business intelligence, or even for day-traders looking to move shares on breaking news.

“Our core business, DataSift, has now grown to over 10,000 users, offices in 4 cities, $14m in investment and an amazing ecosystem of applications built upon it,” Halstead wrote.

Meanwhile, as Twitter works harder to create better ways of surfacing tweets to its own user base, standalone third-party companies like TweetMeme become less relevant over time.

And again, there’s job security in hedging your bets on using Twitter data in the “right ways.” If you’re a company situated in the left-hand quadrants of Twitter’s fancy graph of its third-party ecosystem, you’re safe — Twitter is encouraging developers to create businesses that target customer relationship management (i.e., ways of a brand dealing with complainers on Twitter, among other things), and analytics companies like DataSift.

In other words: When you see one business shrinking while the other is gaining momentum quickly, is it really a tough choice as to where you’ll spend your resources? I think not, and apparently neither does Halstead.

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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle