I had a really good time at TWTRCON yesterday. While some were critical that it was the Twitterville community's testimonial to itself, I found it inspiring to see the rapid emergence of a business community that shares a passion for Twitter. The conference was sold out and the room was about as filled as it could be--unless the round top tables had been removed.
My old friend Gina Smith, for ABC tech correspondent and iWoz co-author, did a good job of co-hosting, but she seemed to inject a common theme regarding Twitter and the alleged lack of business model. I found myself disagreeing with her observations and the fact that every time she took a mild snipe at Twitter's alleged lack of model many heads in the room would nod in agreement.
I was not among them. First, I believe the company has been pretty clear that it will charge businesses for services. The founders have stated this and expanded upon it many times. Second, Twitter should do so well as other Silicon Valley start ups that were knocked for not having a business model such as Google and Facebook.
But more than that, the room was filled with companies that show the viability of Twitter's approach. All day we heard from people like Frank Eliason who heads the Comcast Twitter support team, Beth Mansfield the voice behind the curtain of the Carl's Jr, Twitter account, Dell Computer who sold over $1 million in refurbished computers via Twitter in its first year and so on. Each of thee company representatives made clear that their companies are making money because of their Twitter involvement. They were feeding ideas and encouragement to an audience of people who want to use Twitter to profit while getting closer to their customers. Here were these successful companies telling a business audience how Twitter was making them money, positioning them closer with customers efficiently and giving multiple examples of how other companies could do the same.
Then there was the observation by Comcast's Eliason: His company had come to Twitterville because that's where they could find their customers. So what company would not come to Twitter to get closer to customers and make money?
Now, here's the obvious leap that Gina and others, in my opinion are missing. Twitter will eventually charge for such services and as long as charges are reasonable, companies like Comcast, Dell and Carl's Jr will be happy to pay for these services. And the longer Twitter can wait before they charge, the bigger Twitter gets during that period, the more companies will see the value and be willing to pay.
Gina asked the question whether Twitter made a mistake by turning down a $500 million stock offer to be acquired by Facebook. Some thought they had. I do not. I think the amount is chicken feed.