There are plenty of reasons to be fascinated by Twitter – the growth, the emergence of a new way to communicate and share information, the growing number of valuable and interesting third-party services, and, of course, the entrepreneurs (Biz Stone, Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey) involved.
But the question that needs to asked in the wake of TechCrunch going to town by publishing a tsunami of secret internal documents is whether there has been a company that has attracted this kind of scrutiny, attention and obsession?
Sure, many companies have been thrust into the spotlight – some because of their market dominance (Google, Microsoft), some for their incompetence (Nortel), and some for being evil (WorldCom, Enron).
But Twitter strikes me as a different kind of beast – a start-up with no business plan that has captured the imagination of not only millions of users but a large ecosystem of people with a laser-like focus on the company and the business.
This group includes myself given I’m keenly interested in how Twitter evolves from a phenomenon to a business. And then there’s my Twitter blog, which bounces between talking interesting Twitter services and Twitter itself.
I wonder why Twitter has attracted this kind of following. Is it user growth, the venture capital involved, the utility and potential of the service?
In some respects, Twitter has brought upon itself much of the attention. Stone and Williams have talked a lot about Twitter even though they’ve been able or unwilling to provide any insight into a business model.
In recent months, Stone and Williams have been particularly available, which has made me wonder about ulterior motives. Why would they travel around the world talking about the company when there’s so much going on from an operational and strategic basis?
Are they working on partnerships and acquisitions? Are they grabbing the spotlight while they can? Are they simply building the company’s profile to make it a more attractive takeover target?
Whatever the reason, they have played a key role in fueling Twitter-mania, which clearly spiked this week.