Last year, exactly 1 year yesterday in fact, I wrote an article reminding developers, while venting that we were in a constant state of being at Twitter’s mercy. In the last year, Twitter has actually improved a lot in regards to stability – they attribute that to Unicorns. I think it’s because they’ve hired a lot of good people over the last year. Yet, the core problems of 2 years ago still exist, and you know what – I’m fine with it now.
Check out the interview (again) that Robert Scoble and I (mostly Robert) did with Ev Williams and Biz Stone almost exactly 2 years ago. This was in response to Alex Payne writing a blog post calling Robert a “whale” and blaming Twitter’s scaling difficulties on that. At the time I was also very concerned about the developer ecosystem, and that has not changed since. Robert Scoble since has been replaced by pop-culture icons on Twitter’s suggested user list, and, as one of Twitter’s top promoters and even the top user for quite awhile, he was thrown under the rug by Twitter as well.
Here’s the thing though – as I said in my article yesterday, I have no problem with this. Twitter is a business. They have a core technology they need to build, and they’re going to continue building that to compete. They even had auto follow for awhile – I competed, we provided a better service (and probably even had more users than Twitter using it), and Twitter eventually didn’t see the need to continue supporting it. They’ve since replaced several other features my business offers. We’ve continued to compete there as well. They even asked me to remove specific features because it was not in their core interest.
At first I was dumbfounded at how I was being treated by Twitter. I even left the service for a short while due to my disappointment. Then I think I went into denial. I’d continue making the same mistakes over and over, continuing to release features only to see Twitter replace them. For some reason after each time I’d still get mad, complain, and the cycle would continue. It wasn’t until this year that I’ve finally come to terms with all of this. Yes, I have a service that relies on Twitter. Yes, I have many features that risk getting replaced by Twitter. No, I probably will never be acquired by Twitter, nor will any of my competitors.
I’m okay with that though. I’ve provided some great services to many people and people actually pay for this stuff and like it. We still provide the best stats of new and lost followers on Twitter. We have some of the best filters on the planet for Twitter. We have one of the best auto follow tools on the planet and have upheld our responsibility to keep Twitter clean in the process of doing that. We’ll continue to improve these features and add new features in the future. I started it – I can’t just quit until it’s all over and either someone acquires me, or Twitter completely puts me out of business. I’ve come to complete terms with that, while at the same time I realize I need to come up with a core and move towards that as a focus.
I’ve been saying this over and over again on this blog over the past 2 years. Twitter isn’t going to change their ways. They’ll continue to compete. They’ll continue to add features. They’ll even buy one of your (or my) competitors. That’s life. And I’m okay with that. I’ve been through this too many times to get mad any more.
One year from now I’m sure I’ll say the exact same thing I said this year, last, and the year before. Twitter won’t change. They’re a business, and they have to compete to stay alive. It’s time we all start innovating, and let Twitter be Twitter. The complaining, quite honestly, is getting old (I think I invented it).
It’s funny how Twitter gives us this reminder almost the exact same time every year, yet we all seem to think it’s news when it comes around.