Twitter growing up through acquisitions and advertising

You’re a small start-up. You’ve invested heaps of time and money in your twitter client which will be supported by advertising and suddenly Twitter throw a spanner at your well greased wheel.

What do you do?

Last week Twitter announced that they had acquired atebits, the folks behind the Twitter iPhone app tweetie.

As soon as they did there were a heap of tweets lamenting that Twitter had done so and saying “I feel sorry for all devs”.

There are people forming unions and grabbing the pitchforks to storm the barricades. They are talking about creating a new open platform to better Twitter.

The feeling was that Twitter had sucked the creativity out of being a twitter hacker and acted in a unilateral and nasty corporate way.

I think it is a great story. Some smart people developed a great application and have now sold it and made some money.

The developers complaining that Twitter is cutting their lunch should take a deep breath and start developing products that are better than any alternative so they attract eyeballs or acquisition. And perhaps work with open standards so they are not vulnerable to the whims of a corporation running a closed system.

Founder of Seesmic, Loic Le Meur writes that the competition should create innovation, although his post pre-dated the Tweetie acquisition.

Twitter obviously realise that owning the eyeballs and the experience across multiple platforms will ensure potential monetisation opportunities from advertising are not lost.

And given that last year the Twitter COO, Dick Costolo promised a new advertising platform that “we would love”, all evidence points to Twitter, that large and very popular start-up, growing up.

I do hope the advertising is as smart as Robert Scoble breathlessly writes that is going to be. As an online marketer, the idea of an advertising platform that people love is fantastic, and very likely fantastical.

What will be very interesting is whether Twitter becomes a start-up success story with super smart advertising, clever acquisitions and careful nurturing of their developer segment, or if they crash and burn having created a new paradigm for communication.

What do you think?