Charl Norman

Twitter downtime – Could Google help Twitter scale?

I had a thought on Twitter a few days ago: Could a Google acquisition of Twitter help the service scale? Or is it not an infrastructure issue but more a platform issue? Twitter has suffered from serious downtime over the last few weeks, trying to keep their service live during peak usage periods. They managed a 97% uptime during the WWDC keynote, which is’good’ by Twitters standards.

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Would a Google acquisition be healthy for Twitter? One can’t help but to think about what has happened to other startups gobbled up by the search giant. Since the acquisition of similar life streaming service Jaiku, the community has suffered from negligence on Google’s behalf, much like the Dodgeball acquisition, an acquisition Google made in 2005 and never really did anything with. Some Jaiku users have even revolted and moved over to Twitter. Google’s strategy to gobble up small startups and then do nothing with them is an interesting one.

Then again Twitter has a strong community which won’t be affected by an acquisition from any big player. Youtube also has a strong community and flourished under Google’s guidance after the historic acquisition for $1.5 billion.

Google has plenty of infrastructure that Twitter could use to minimize downtime so that it could stick to focusing on innovation. They have been slow to roll out service updates, likely because of the scaling issues. During the WWDC keynote, it even disabled some functionality to try stay up. One of Twitter’s smaller rivals, FriendFeed, has consistently announced new features and innovated on its platform.

But does Twitter want to sell? With only a couple of million dollars in funding, selling Twitter would be a nice cash out for the founders and the VCs that back them. Google has the bank to buy Twitter, which would likely come with a hefty price tag despite no real revenue model. Although I’m sure Google looked at Twitter before the Jaiku buy, seeing as Ev Williams, one of the Twitter founders, also founded Blogger, which was sold to Google as one of the first web 2.0 acquisitions.

Imagine what an interesting mash up it would be to monetize your tweets with your Google Adsense account! Google has monetized conversation well with GMail, so doing the same for Twitter could work.

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