Mike Isaac

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Twitter Taps Ex-Ticketmaster CEO as Head of Commerce

NathanHubbardTwitter on Tuesday named Nathan Hubbard as its head of commerce.

Hubbard’s appointment to the new position, first reported by Bloomberg, comes on the heels of his very recent exit from Ticketmaster, where he acted as CEO since the 2010 merger with Live Nation.

Hubbard wouldn’t get into the specifics of his new job, but as AllThingsD has reported on in the past, Twitter’s commerce initiatives will likely involve the company’s “Cards” product, an expanded form of tweets that let third parties insert more media-rich content inside of the short-form messages.

“If you think about where Twitter is and the evolution of using its interest data to target users … that’s what the Card product is really about,” Hubbard said in an interview. “The next step down that cycle, to me, is, can we actually lessen the friction to buying? Can we drive the actual transaction via the platform?”

Indeed, Twitter’s president of global revenue, Adam Bain — Hubbard’s longtime friend and new boss — has long spoken about a world where tweets would float freely throughout the Web as standalone “envelopes” of content, with users perhaps able to make purchases via the tweets themselves.

Twitter’s hiring of Hubbard could signal, too, that the company is growing more interested in selling items related to live events, things that obviously make sense, due to the real-time nature of the service. Ticket sales, naturally, would be an easy starting point for both Twitter and Hubbard.

It isn’t clear, however, just how much of the payments flow Twitter will handle itself. Hubbard wouldn’t say whether or not Twitter would handle payments processing, but indicated that it wasn’t immediately likely.

“I wouldn’t tell you we’re becoming a payments-processing company,” he said.

Something worth thinking about: Earlier this month, AllThingsD reported that Facebook was pushing its own new commerce initiative, an effort to simplify mobile purchasing and potentially prove to advertisers that, yes, advertising on Facebook does in fact drive sales.

If Twitter could ultimately do the same by sticking purchasing options into its Promoted Tweets ad product, perhaps it, too, could convince advertisers that their money is well spent.

Hubbard, whose first day at Twitter is this Thursday, expects to do more partnering with merchants and other third parties in the company’s commerce initiative.


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