Stepping on Stock Twits’ Toes, Twitter Rolls Out the Cashtag

Published on July 30, 2012
by Mike Isaac

Twitter sure isn’t worried about throwing elbows anymore.

This much is clear, as Twitter rolled out a new feature focused on ticker symbols on Monday evening, allowing users to search for tweets that mention particular stocks. So for example, if a tweet contains the symbol $GE, clicking on the ticker will serve up a list of all the recent tweets that contain the $GE ticker.

Why is this a foul? Mostly because this is one of the primary functions of Stock Twits, the pet project of entrepreneur Howard Lindzon. Sign in to Stock Twits using your Twitter account, and users can follow different companies based on the $ticker that Lindzon popularized.

“In a dirty way, it’s the ultimate compliment,” Lindzon wrote on his site.

Lindzon maintains that while Twitter is playing dirty with the creation of the “cashtag,” he says his service provides enough context and community to differentiate itself from Twitter’s newly incorporated feature. Further, since Lindzon has spent the past four years developing his site, he believes he has a better handle on dealing with “cashtags” than Twitter does.

“You can hijack a plane but it does[n’t] mean you know how to fly it,” Lindzon wrote.

The timing is too interesting not to notice. Twitter is in the midst of platform flux, moving towards a new way of dealing with third-party developers on its platform. A vaguely worded, highly publicized Twitter blog post from last month hinted that changes would be coming, though the company hasn’t released any further information. Instead, developers are paying attention to Twitter’s actions; the company clamped down on Instagram’s API access last week, and cut LinkedIn off completely a few weeks ago.

Granted, it’s one feature from the many other user interface additions that Lindzon’s start-up offers; to say that Twitter is completely moving in on and ready to take over the financial tweet territory forged by Lindzon four years ago may be something of a stretch.

Still, Lindzon claims Twitter was uninterested in this sort of move as recently as a few months ago. Now, apparently, that isn’t the case.

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