Some thoughts leading up to Chirp

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Ryan Sarver

Apr 11, 2010, 8:22:12 PM4/11/10
to Twitter Development Talk
I wanted to email everyone and share my thoughts on the acquisition
from Friday, the communication around it and where we are going from
here. We're incredibly excited about Chirp, and I think an open
dialogue going into it is important. I look forward to meeting many of
you there and continuing the discussion.

We love the Twitter ecosystem and work hard every day to help support
you and make the platform you are building on as successful as it can
be for everyone involved. We love the variety that developers have
built around the Twitter experience and it's a big part of the success
we've seen. However when we dug in a little bit we realized that it
was causing massive confusion among user's who had an iPhone and were
looking to use Twitter for the first time. They would head to the App
Store, search for Twitter and would see results that included a lot of
apps that had nothing to do with Twitter and a few that did, but a new
user wouldn't find what they were looking for and give up. That is a
lost user for all of us. This means that we were missing out an
opportunity to grow the userbase which is beneficial for the health of
the entire ecosystem. Focus on growing and serving the userbase is
beneficial to everyone in the ecosystem and more opportunities become
available with a larger audience. We believe strongly that the
ecosystem is critical to our success and this move doesn't change
that. We have analytics that show our most engaged users are ones that
use SMS, AND a 3rd-party application. It further proves
that there are different audiences and needs that we can never meet on
our own and we all need to work together to provide what is best for
the users. Once I understood the long-term view I strongly believed it
was not only the right thing to do for users, but the right thing to
do for the ecosystem as a whole.

To be clear, we are going to work hard to improve our product, add new
functionality, make acquisitions when it's in the best interest of
users and the whole ecosystem at large. Each one of those things has
the potential to upset a company or developer that may have been
building in that space and they then have to look for new ways to
create value for users. My promise is that we will be consistent in
always focusing on what's best for the user and the ecosystem as a
whole and we will be sincere and honest in our communication with you.
To the point that we can, we will try to give more certainty about the
areas where we think we can maximize benefit to users. We will
continue to focus on what is best for users and we will work together
to make sure that we are creating more opportunities for the ecosystem
on the whole. We will also admit our mistakes when they are made and
the Blackberry client should never have been labeled "official". It
has since been changed and you won't see that language used with
Twitter clients in the future.

This week will hopefully show that we are focused on building a
platform that no longer just mirrors functionality, but
offers you raw utility that provides much greater opportunities to
innovate and build durable, valuable businesses. I also want this week
to be an opportunity for us to get together and discuss the future of
the platform and how we can improve our communication, responsiveness
and clarity. We have an open office hours at 10:15am on Thursday at
the Hack Day and I invite all of you to come by for a discussion to
talk about the future of the platform and help us craft a working
relationship that is beneficial for both of us. I will provide a free
ticket to anyone from this list that is unable to afford the current
price so that they can be part of that discussion. Just email me
directly. For those of you who can't make it to Chirp, it will be live
streamed so you can tune in from home -- where ever home might be.

As always, you can reach me by email or by phone, 617 763 9904. I am
here to listen and provide clarity when possible and you should know
we are committed to working with you on this.

Best, Ryan

Dewald Pretorius

Apr 11, 2010, 9:05:23 PM4/11/10
to Twitter Development Talk

Thanks for attempting to step into an emotionally charged environment
and clarifying things.

However, to be quite frank, the argument about "confusion in the Apple
app store" gives off a distinct spinning sound. Very loud, in fact. It
may be one of the reasons for acquiring Tweetie, but to cite it as the
primary and only reason immediately sets of all flavors of BS alarms.

Robby Grossman

Apr 11, 2010, 9:57:53 PM4/11/10
to Twitter Development Talk
Thanks for the post, Ryan. Looking forward to hearing more of both
perspectives later this week.


Arnaud Meunier

Apr 11, 2010, 10:47:20 PM4/11/10
Thanks for this clarification, Ryan.

I think an important part of the tension is coming from the fact you really took your time to (as you say) "dig a little bit", and realize the right move was to buy Tweetie. I mean, it’s almost like if it was in Twitter core to... have multiple holes, and multiple Apps to fill these holes. Another "solution" to the Apple Store confusion problem could have been a list of recommended Twitter clients, for example.

With these recent moves and announcements you’re starting to realize (for the first time) lots of developer’s fear: "What if Twitter makes that same feature I’m working on?"

This situation happened on a lot of other platforms before, and I guess we all knew it was going to happen here, soon or later. The only questions were When and Who. One of the question is still opened. I hope we’ll find answers @chirp :)

Arnaud -

Mike Champion

Apr 11, 2010, 11:34:39 PM4/11/10
to Twitter Development Talk
Ryan, thanks for the message. Appreciate the perspective, and looking
forward to continuing the conversation about where the Twitter
platform is going at Chirp. I think the more vision that can be shared
about Twitter's direction, the more that other developers can make
informed decisions.

And learning when Twitter for Mac will get updated ;-)


On Apr 11, 10:47 pm, Arnaud Meunier <>


Apr 11, 2010, 11:58:28 PM4/11/10
to Twitter Development Talk
Regardless of the companies position moving forward, there are great
people working at Twitter who sincerely care about the developer
community, including Ryan. If things are unfair, you can bet they feel
it too. They're still figuring it out. I don't see them implementing
any of the stuff your software does, so I don't understand the
constant negativity. You complained that they weren't communicating,
and when they do you call it BS. Life's too short man.

The whole situation the last few days reminds me a lot of this clip:


Brian Smith

Apr 12, 2010, 12:08:29 AM4/12/10
Ryan Sarver wrote:
> [...] However when we dug

> in a little bit we realized that it was causing massive confusion among
user's who
> had an iPhone and were looking to use Twitter for the first time. They
> head to the App Store, search for Twitter and would see results that
included a
> lot of apps that had nothing to do with Twitter and a few that did, but a
> user wouldn't find what they were looking for and give up. That is a lost
user for
> all of us.
> [...] We will also admit

> our mistakes when they are made and the Blackberry client should never
> been labeled "official". It has since been changed and you won't see that
> language used with Twitter clients in the future.

The "officialness" of the Blackberry app wasn't much of a problem. The
problem was/is the name and the logo. It is confusing to users to have the
app named "Twitter" and it is confusing to see the app branded solely with
the "t" logo. The "t" mark is something that should definitely be protected,
but I think it has a lot of *functional* uses for it as an indicator or
badge that make it inappropriate as the logo for a single application on any
platform. IMO, it would be much better for Twitter in the long run to have
the "t" logo used as a badge to indicate that an app has met some
quality/security criteria--like the "Compatible with Windows 7" logo
program, the "Made for iPod," the Visa logo, etc. That would be something
that would allow you to start a process of ensuring a wide variety of
high-quality applications that are closely aligned with your business goals,
without setting the bar too high or the terms too strict for simpler
applications with a more casual connection to Twitter.

Many mobile operators and phone manufacturers have very bad policies about
supporting their products once they've been replaced with newer models. It
is very likely that, if you let mobile operators and mobile manufacturers
have exclusive uses of the trademarks on their platforms, that those
trademarks will be attached to software that becomes stale, obsolete, or
even totally non-functional on otherwise serviceable devices that aren't
even that old. It would be a big mistake to reserve Twitter's branding for
applications which don't even end up staying in the top tier of Twitter apps
on their platform in terms of quality.

Anyway, I think that everybody will soon see that "officialness" of
competing applications is a very small problem compared to issues like
degradation of UI w/ advertising or strict restrictions on how spam-ish
Twitter-provided content is filtered. I really hope that you guys have
something extremely clever planned for monetization. I have been unable to
think of many ways to make money with Twitter that didn't involve annoying
end-users with ads or encouraging end-users to annoy each other ("RT to
win..."), and AFAICT nothing is going to work unless it keeps users' home
and @mentions timelines clean with less advertising/spam than there already
is now, instead of more. I am genuinely curious to see what you guys have
come up with.



Apr 11, 2010, 11:52:15 PM4/11/10
to Twitter Development Talk

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts as well as open up
a direct line to communicate with you. It speaks well of the company
you work for and the opportunity you're trying to manage.

Quite frankly I'm surprised Twitter doesn't acquire more companies.
The last one I really remember was Summize and that was quite
some time ago. I just hope Twitter doesn't fall in the footsteps of
whose change to their developer's agreement was one of the worst
I can remember in awhile. But for what it's worth, try to respond to
as many inquiries as possible. I had tweeted some questions a couple
of weeks ago, and when communications suddenly stopped, it was
easy to assume the worst. Perhaps I erred by including a reference to
Yahoo's Project Rushmore. Anyway, mea culpa.

Best of luck!

- Brian

Dewald Pretorius

Apr 12, 2010, 8:28:22 AM4/12/10
to Twitter Development Talk

Trust me, this has nothing to do with negativity.

When Ryan sets the clear expectation of, "My promise is that ... we
will be sincere and honest in our communication with you," and in the
same breath expects us to believe that Tweetie was acquired primarily
or solely to avoid confusion in the app store, I go, "Now wait a
second... No, man, don't do this. Not in the same breath."

Tweetie really, honestly, wasn't acquired to own the iPhone / iPad
eyeballs, capture the bulk of future ad (and other) revenue on that
platform, and form an intellectual property base to extend to Android
and other mobile platforms to own those eyeballs and revenue?

> > primary and only reason immediately sets of all flavors of BS alarms.- Hide quoted text -
> - Show quoted text -

Jason Rundell

Apr 12, 2010, 2:44:55 AM4/12/10
to Twitter Development Talk
When will Twitter answer: 1) Why did Twitter acquire Tweetie? 2) What
is Twitter planning to do with Tweetie?

Michael Macasek

Apr 12, 2010, 7:33:42 AM4/12/10
to Twitter Development Talk

Great post. Thank you for taking the time to clarify some of Twitters
recent actions and future direction. Hopefully this thread will not
get derailed...

Looking forward to seeing you and all the Twitter folks in a few days
to continue the discussion. And maybe at the oneforty PreChip
party? :)

RE Mike's comment... Yea what's the deal with Tweetie for Mac man? I
need my Tweetie fix. ;)



Apr 12, 2010, 9:34:46 AM4/12/10
to Twitter Development Talk
On Apr 12, 2:44 am, Jason Rundell <> wrote:
> When will Twitter answer: 1) Why did Twitter acquire Tweetie? 2) What
> is Twitter planning to do with Tweetie?

Since when does Twitter owe you or any of us any sort of explanation
for their business practices?

Lemme get this straight. Twitter is FREE. The Twitter API is public,
well documented, and FREE. Our privilege is to build tools and
businesses on top of Twitter's FREE services. Twitter doesn't want a
cut of your business. They don't require approval of your apps. But
for some reason you (and others) feel entitled to an explanation, or
details somehow outlining their strategy and practices?

The tone of this group never ceases to amaze me. Get back to coding
and building cool stuff.


Robby Grossman

Apr 12, 2010, 9:56:53 AM4/12/10
to Twitter Development Talk
Tweetie 2 for Mac is still alive, folks!


Dewald Pretorius

Apr 12, 2010, 10:07:39 AM4/12/10
to Twitter Development Talk
Not only do we feel entitled, we ARE entitled to an open and honest
explanation when open and honest communication is offered and promised
to us.

There are two possible paths to follow:

a) Give us spin, and don't promise open and honest communication.

b) Promise us open and honest communication, and give us exactly that,
not spin.

Those are the two paths that do not undermine credibility, because
then we know what to expect, and we get what we expect.

Jason Striegel

Apr 12, 2010, 1:02:58 PM4/12/10
to Twitter Development Talk
Thanks, Ryan!

I'm looking forward to Thursday's discussion. I think that as 3rd
party Twitter developers, we think of ourselves existing somewhere in
the highest bracket of "engaged users." Whether it's a valid concern
remains to be proven, but a lot of folks (myself included) are now
wondering if "maximize benefit to users" is inclusive of us too. Is it
inclusive of developers? Is it inclusive of our existing users? Is it
inclusive of the user base we're trying to grow?

I hope it is. Twitter's developer-centric nature is what got me
excited about supporting the platform in the first place.

We all have a joint interest in creating the best possible end-user
experience. What I'd love to see from Twitter is an open commitment to
supporting 3rd party developers in their attempts at achieving this
goal. I'm less concerned about Twitter creating or purchasing
applications with the same functionality as my own. What I do worry
about, however, is if Twitter's applications will have access to
private APIs or exclusive features that prevent 3rd-party developers
from creating a competitive or superior experience. I also wonder
whether the goal is to improve access to data services like the search
and stream APIs (scalability permitting) to a larger audience, or if
the plan is to continue to develop exclusive partnerships that have
premier access.

I could be wrong, but an ongoing commitment to open-data and non-
exclusive APIs should lead to the best applications and the most
diverse Twitter ecosystem--an ecosystem that allows users to decide,
by their use of both official and 3rd-party products, where maximized
value lies.

See you all at Chirp!


Apr 12, 2010, 2:57:06 PM4/12/10
to Twitter Development Talk
Absolutely right but then the comment, "it's dangerous to be a Twitter
only client" comes to mind. The formula then becomes to develop for
other networks (StatusNet?). Good for the end user and other networks
but ultimately good for Twitter? The argument could be made that it's
good for everyone...or maybe counter-productive since the wheel is
being reinvented?

Twitter, help us find another formula to continue to help you...

Abraham Williams

Apr 12, 2010, 3:19:56 PM4/12/10
to twitter-development-talk, Ryan Sarver
I have much to do before my flight tomorrow so this is rough and should be read as such.

Even in light of recent events Chirp is looking to be a good time that will hopefully result in fruitful dialog from all. Considering the magnitude of the issue it would have been, in my mind, pertinent to have had this email ready to go on Friday for what must have been expected pushback. Leaving the overactive imaginations of netizens to fester is rarely helpful. I think many of us understand the reasons but are now feeling threatened because space previously understood to be of little direct interest from Twitter is now very much squarely in Twitter's targets. 

Usability is always a concern and the explanation of Twitter has always been difficult at best, but I think there were better ways to handle this they would have resulted in less developer duress. I find it slightly ironic that some of the blame is Twitter's restrictions on the use of trademark design and terms, though I realized Twitter has it's interests to protect and so I won't fault you on that. Suddenly announcing stepping into the developer space seems like the easy fix for you. But at what cost? I've been developing on the Twitter platform for a long time and I'm not going to think twice about future projects where before I didn't. Many other new and experienced developers are along the same thought process. Maybe you should have worked with developers to smooth over the onboarding process instead. A good start would have been design documentation to present users with a more consistent experience. Here is the text you should present new users, here is the icon you should use for retweets, etc. Much could have been done without impeding the creativity of developers while still making it easier for users. Would users still get lost looking for an Official app? Probably, but I would argue it would have been a better result than the distrust now implanted in all developers thoughts. The loss of a user is the loss of a single user but the loss of a developer could be the loss of thousands of users.

The communication between Twitter and developers has look more and more like this:

Twitter: We are rolling out this change.
Devs: Wait! What?
Twitter: ...
Devs: Wait! What?
Twitter: ...
Devs: Wait! What?
Twitter: Ok. we took your feed back and will tweak it a little.
Devs: But what about this?
Twitter: ...

Yes this is an exaggeration but the idea holds true. There has been less of an ongoing dialog and more of Twitter dictating changes. Is it Twitter's right? Yes. Is it our right to bitch and move to other platforms? Yes. Smaller issues seem to have much better dialog between individual Twitter developers working on the specific subsystem which is great but the small issues also screws less developers when things change.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the platform team (who are all true hackers at heart) for being stuck between the business side of Twitter and the third-party developers. We can't seed the business side telling you no the the nifty features I'm sure you would love to developer for us. All we just see you saying no. There is a level of transparency that I want from Twitter which is understandably not an option for the majority of startups. (*cough* *cough* @dacort) That dream of transparency is reminiscent of a time when the API group felt more like an open source project where the platform team seemed more like overworked committers then employees of an multi-million dollar corporation. 

I would also like to point you to @funkatron's heartfelt blog post much of which holds true for me:

Many of you will see me at Chirp of which I am looking forward to, but Chirp no longer has the shiny luster it once had and as Twitter overshadows the community more and more I too will look more and more to other platform and other communities.

I hope we didn't use up all your minutes Ryan. :-P

To unsubscribe, reply using "remove me" as the subject.

Abraham Williams | Developer for hire |
PoseurTech Labs | Projects |
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Jason Rundell

Apr 13, 2010, 7:56:58 PM4/13/10
to Twitter Development Talk
Well said Dewald! You've captured exactly how I feel about this.

Peter Denton

Apr 13, 2010, 8:28:40 PM4/13/10
also, I know no one wants to spill beans for the sake of spammers, but can team platform shed some light on app suspensions?

obviously, there are the clear no no's but I have had an app suspended because the title was "analytics", thus some reserved word for twitter inc.

Also, do denial of oAuth requests come into play?

Dewald Pretorius

Apr 13, 2010, 8:40:40 PM4/13/10
to Twitter Development Talk

It's probably better to ask those questions in a new thread. With all
the media attention, these Tweetie-related threads are probably still
a little too hot or "toxic" for Twitter employees to reply on them.

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