MediaFile

For IVP, Twitter investment came from the gut, and quickly

 

In late 2008, Institutional Venture Partners general partner Todd Chaffee had never heard of Twitter. Two months later, it was one of the company’s biggest backers.

Speaking at Venture Capital Journal’s Venture Alpha conference Thursday, Chaffee described how a then-junior Institutional Ventures employee, Jules Maltz, came back from a December event organized by the Churchill Club, an organization that holds talks in the San Francisco Bay area. He had heard Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter talk and was impressed, but couldn’t get through the throngs to talk with him afterwards.

Chaffee realized that Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson, whom he knew in part through a shared investment in research company comScore, was a member of Twitter’s board of directors, and called him up. “Yeah, we don’t need any more money,” he recalled Wilson saying. But Chaffee persisted, and Wilson arranged an introduction.

Institutional Ventures met with Williams and Biz Stone, another Twitter co-founder, in January 2009. Chaffee recalled dinner on a Wednesday night, due diligence on Thursday, and a deal coming together that Friday. It closed the following month.

“We understood it wasn’t just a weird social network,” Chaffee said. “We understood it was a platform.” He said ultimately, the decision to invest “came from the gut.”

Twitter’s Costolo: not quite footloose and fancy free

You’d think fast-racing Twitter would keep one eye firmly fixed on the rearview and side mirrors.

With the Internet landscape littered with also-rans — from pets.com to AskJeeves.com to a Facebook-steamrolled MySpace — you’d imagine the one thing overnight Internet microblogging phenomenon Twitter would fear the most would be to get displaced by an up-and-comer with the same alarming speed.

Not so. Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo insists no one at the company he has worked at for less than a year worries about two theoretical guys in a garage dreaming up the next social networking sensation.

For Sale: The House of Twitter

Movie star homes are big in LA.

In the San Francisco Bay Area though, the celebrity real estate scene is all about Internet bigwigs.

So it wasn’t a total shock when various tech blogs picked up the fact that Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has put his 2-bedroom Berkeley hills cottage up for sale.

Stone actually announced the sale himself in a Tweet stating that it was “time to move,” despite his affection for the pad, and a link for prospective buyers to view the official listing.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s expected underwear

Even at a difficult moment, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone managed to be witty.

It fell to Stone to write about the hacker who broke in to the company’s computers and stole sensitive business information. His blog on the matter — the official statement from Twitter — was dubbed “Twitter, even more open than we wanted.”

Someone sent a trove of the Twitter documents to the Silicon Valley website TechCrunch. Stone’s blog clarified puzzling statements on TechCrunch that seemed to point toward Google Docs as the problem.  Said Stone: “This has nothing to do with any vulnerability in Google Apps which we continue to use.”

That must have come as a welcome relief at Google, which had been trying to explain the robustness of its security even as press agents for obscure security experts sent emails to suggest otherwise, so their clients would get a mention.

Tech execs, where would you put a million dollars?

Most top technology executives are used to juggling businesses worth hundred of millions of dollars, yen or euros. But this week at the Reuters Technology Summit, we asked: if we gave you $1 million to invest anywhere — but not in your own company — where would you spend it?

INTERNET / STARTUPS

If you want the quick answer, I would invest it in Twitter.  I’m sorry that we weren’t in it. I don’t know where it’s going and it would be a fun ride.

Tim Draper, managing director of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

It’s not easy being Biz

In the adrenalin-fueled world of Internet start-ups, where “Biz” is usually followed by “Dev,” where did Twitter co-founder Biz Stone get his nickname?

After talking to the Reuters Technology Summit of growth rates and future revenue possibilities, the Twitter co-founder chatted with the Reuters San Francisco bureau about his unusual moniker and why it can pose traveling hiccups.

Christopher Isaac Stone said his parents first began calling him Biz when he mispronounced Christopher, saying “Biz-ah-bah” instead.

Counting Twitter users with Wolfram Alpha

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Monday that unless Twitter’s growth rate slowed, by the end of the year its user base would exceed the population of Planet Earth.

Break out those calculators, nerds!

Let’s put Biz’s admittedly tongue-in-cheek statement to the test, using some back-of-the envelope math and the much-hyped, newly launched online knowledge compendium Wolfram Alpha.

Estimates of Twitter’s user base vary widely. Let’s take the frequently cited figure of 10 million, and double it to 20 million, since we’re feeling generous and Oprah is involved.

Google’s Schmidt: Twitter is poor man’s email

Google CEO Eric Schmidt thinks Twitter’s success is wonderful, but he’s not particularly impressed with the product’s usefulness.***

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In fact, Schmidt deems Twitter and products of its ilk “poor man’s email systems,’ as he told the crowd at the Morgan Stanley Technology conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

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Twitter’s text-based messaging service, which limits messages to 140 characters, can’t compare to all the features and storage capabilities of a full-fledged email product, Schmidt said.

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What’s more, he noted, Google already has a very successful instant messaging product.