Twitter, the hugely popular messaging service, is regularly mocked for not yet finding a way to make money rather than spend it sending out its members "tweets" to computers and cellphones. Now, a Wall Street Journal report quotes Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, who says the company recently hired a product manager to oversee the development of premium services -- that is, extra features that companies or other users would need to pay for.
So far, the only sign of anyone giving money to Twitter was the recent debut of ExectTweets, a Microsoft-sponsored site that aggregates messages from Mark Cuban and other businesspeople, as part of Microsoft's "People-Ready" campaign. Twitter gets a cut of the income from Microsoft.
But the site, launched by online advertising network Federated Media, hardly seems like the debut of a solid, profitable business model for Twitter. Nor does Magpie, which attempts to sell ad placements directly into the streams of Twitter users. Neither idea has caught fire compared to Web banner ads, or to Google's dual advertising schemes, AdWords and AdSense.
Twitter Investor Fred Wilson, of Union Square Ventures, offered this vision to the Journal:
Twitter will make money by "following the money," or building on the ways that others are developing businesses based on the service.
But Wilson and Stone both declined to give the Journal any details about possible for-a-fee Twitter services. They also declined to say when the premium offerings might be available.