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This article was published on December 18, 2009


When Will Twitter Get It Together?

When Will Twitter Get It Together?
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

fail whaleIt is beginning to feel that Twitter is run by a gaggle of people more fixated on preening for a camera than running their company. Twitter got hacked last night, after a day of embarrassing downtime.

This, some years into Twitter’s history, and after some $150 million in funding, is not only embarrassing and annoying, but is compromising Twitter’s future.

As someone who firmly believes in the Twitter concept, loves the open API, and has spent quite a bit of time promoting the website through my work and personal life, I am frustrated by the website’s continued failure to be reliable.

Twitter used to have scaling issues, back when it was growing. If you check out the charts, it has largely gotten past that. Sure, on the whole Twitter is still growing, especially when you factor in international users, but scaling should no longer be a problem.

Twitter has received more than enough funding to rebuild the entire Twitter underpinnings and run on a more stable frame, if they wanted, and more than enough to fix what they have. Let’s take a look:

  1. Series A, $5 million, July 2007. Twitter still crashes.
  2. Series B, $15 million, May 2008. Twitter still crashes.
  3. Series C, $35 million, February 2009. Twitter still crashes.
  4. Series D, $100 million, July 2009. Twitter still crashes.

When Twitter was small, it risked finding its audience by having serious reliability issues. Now, in its pampered adolescencse it is risking its long term viability by having, I hate to say it, nearly exactly the same reliability issues. Twitter got hacked last night, by an Iranian cabal. Their API lead tried to laugh it off with this; not good enough.

Twitter has long survived on other people building the service for them, via their API, but that will only get them so far. Twitter needs to circle the wagons, improve the core product, and keep the service from crashing. Every person that I bring to Twitter tells me the same thing: “Twitter was kinda cool, but yesterday I kept seeing this one cartoon whale, so I just went back to Facebook.”

Twitter, time to grow up, and be a real company.