For weeks, my web-savvy roommate from Austin has been patiently waiting to fly back to her home state for food, fun, and of course, South By Southwest. She gets to attend the Interactive Conference, with expenses paid for by her workplace. And while I am jealous, I really hope the big Twitter announcement didn't put a damper on her spirits.
Word on the virtual street is that Twitter founder Evan Williams "bombed" his keynote interview at SXSW. In what was predicted to be a profound speech unveiling Twitter's plans to generate revenue, Nicholas Ciarelli wrote on The Daily Beast's site that Williams might be risking the future of his business.
Williams opened by noting that his announcement was "not an ad platform, it's an 'at' platform," by way of introducing @anywhere, a feature that will allow visitors on Web sites such as Amazon or YouTube to use Twitter's functionality without leaving the sites. It's a slick feature, but to a certain extent the audience members were justified in being unimpressed. Williams said prospective Internet entrepreneurs should ask themselves "Wouldn't it be awesome if...?" And one now gets the sense that Twitter is focusing too much on being awesome instead of addressing the more difficult questions about the future of its business.
As the event carried on, many attendees left halfway through the keynote disgruntled and — wait for it — Tweeted about it. Williams defended comments against his new development by saying that:
We haven't implemented many revenue-generating parts of Twitter yet, because there's a lot we could do that's sort of low-hanging fruit, but it's not necessarily scalable or sustainable.
Guess my roomie will have to wait and Tweet, er, see.