Twitter to pitch add-on tools to businesses

PASADENA, California Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:12am EDT

1 of 4. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone speaks at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2009 in Pasadena, California July 23, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

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PASADENA, California (Reuters) - Twitter plans a marketing campaign starting in the next few days to educate users, individual and corporate, about ways to make money off the popular microblogging site.

Co-founder Biz Stone also told Reuters on Thursday the company is not interested in acquisition talks with Google or any other company.

Documents that were posted on TechCrunch revealed that Twitter had been in discussions with Google, the largest Internet search engine in the United States and a behemoth in online advertising, about some form of search tie-up.

"We have ongoing discussions with a lot of companies. One of the ways we look at Twitter, and the landscape in general, is not as a zero-sum game but how we can reduce a lot of friction between a lot of companies," Stone said in an interview before he took the stage at the Fortune Brainstorm: TECH conference.

"In other words, we see ourselves as complementary to big social networks, to search engines, to big commercial sites," he said.

The documents included a company forecast Twitter would take in $4 million by the fourth quarter of 2009, and grow to 5,200 employees and 1 billion users by the end of 2013.

Stone called the documents notes from meetings, out of date and not necessarily accurate.

"The key takeaway there is that we're thinking big and we're in it for the long haul," Stone said.

While the site has skyrocketed in usage and prominence, Stone said it had yet to make any significant revenue.

Stone said Twitter is in it for "the long haul," which is why it is developing ways to generate revenue, creating a company culture and doing other things internally that "you just don't do if you're interested in being acquired."

Twitter -- which lets users from celebrities to businesses to politicians and protesters post "tweets" of up to 140 characters -- was co-founded by Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey, and is backed by VCs Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures.

As early as Thursday or Friday, Stone said, the company is rolling out the first phase -- an educational push -- of an effort to generate revenue through various add-on tools and services for the business and professional users of Twitter.

Stone said the company will work to educate companies, including mom and pop shops, on how they can use Twitter for their business.

The company expects that the second phase with the add-on services, which could include account certification, will come later this year, likely in the fall. Another possible way to generate revenue would be through the data that Twitter collects about its users, Stone said.

In general, the company will work to position the product as a communication network and less of a social network.

"We started out by creating this very simple status updating system. And that's not what Twitter is. It evolved into something else," Stone said.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee; Editing by Gary Hill)

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