Live Blog: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo At D9

Dick Costolo will be interviewed today by Walt Mossberg at the D Conference. Having survived another drive across the nearby Portuguese Bend landslide here in Palos Verdes, I stand ready to live blog. Let’s do this thing.

Walt: Asking about the Pew study today with new stats on Twitter usage (see Pew: Twitter Usage Grows to 13% With African-Americans Leading Adoption).

Dick: It’s great the growth but there isn’t a third party they’ve seen that fully counts because so much is hard to measure. “We don’t really ourselves track 100% where the off-network traffic grows.”

Walt: So how many in US you think use it?

Dick: Mobile usage up 150% since beginning of year. Now send billion tweets every 6 days. Grew internationally 35% in past two months.

Walt: But how many people?

Dick: We don’t share that publicly, don’t think it’s a fair comparison. “We’ll share that number when we have a better sense of what our off network traffic is.”

Walt: Is most usage still on itself?

Dick: No longer the case vast majority use Twitter through the site. Almost 50% through clients. The change in as primary access point is mostly by mobile clients.

Walt: You’ve been discouraging developers…

Dick: We’ve been encouraging them to go further up the value chain. There are thousands of Twitter clients. More and more brands are flocking to Twitter, and they need all these value add services, that we’d love if more companies would provide.

Walt: What type of services?

Dick: Radian 6 is example of how Red Cross uses it to analyze Twitter data. TweetRiver hired to filter out best Oscar tweets to show on E. Klout used by others to find influential Twitter users. [and all these companies just got a huge pat on the back by Twitter].

Also said to the clients, we’re going to hold you to a higher bar, because a lot of people may think they’re using Twitter itself. Want to ensure protection of privacy.

Walt: And now you’re buying some clients.

Dick: Bought Tweetie for iPhone; recently TweetDeck. Why that? If you look in any newsroom, all the monitors have TweetDeck on it, it’s an amazing research tool for these people. Leslie Stahl’s producer told him recently he’s using TweetDeck to find expert a small country.

Walt: He couldn’t do that on your site?

Dick: One search at a time. TweetDeck lets you keep going.

Walt: So should developers feel you compete with them?

Dick: Anything we do will have some overlaps, but as a company, we’ll try to signal what we’re doing so you can go further up the value chain.

Walt: And now you’re doing another thing?

Dick: Yes, and say we’ll see a video.

Here’s the video going now. It’s going to be the Twitter’s own picture thing that’s been expected Lots of people taking pictures in the video.

But wait, there’s more. There’s Top Images, Top Video, new search features. Oooh, much excitement for me here. This is going to mess with my live blogging. “One good search can take you #anywhere” is showing on the screen.

Walt: So the new product is a Twitter laptop? [Laughs}

Dick: Laughs. Native photo sharing service will roll out 100%. The purpose of that we need to remove the friction of adding photos to Twitter. Howard Stern even complained about it to Biz.

Walt: Asks audience if its hard to add photos? No one really answers, one shouts hard to add video.

Dick: This room isn't typical. And as services change terms, we want to ensure users own rights to their own photos. We can't live in a world where are users don't get that opportunity.

Also much improved search experience. Not reverse chronological but relevant sorted results. All signal, retweets, replies, even personalized. Surfacing all the context about the tweets in the results, photos that are tweeted, videos that are tweeted.

-- missed a bit, sorry, did short brief quickly on Twitter search news --

Dick: Facebook, I think of, as much more of an archive of past knowledge with pictures. On Twitter, we think about the photo experience as conversation that's happening about this subject right now. It's not organized into albums or archival strucutre.

Walt: But there's some past tense. You said some photos will fall off over time.

Dick: Our past tense is shorter than most people's. Even though Twitter URLs used, Photobucket is hosting them.

Walt: How do you think Twitpic and others feel about this.

Dick: I'd encourage these companies to move up the value chain. The YFrog guys have done an amazing job with hosting, for example.

Walt: And I can use it in any client.

Dick: Yes [though really, only for clients that Twitter owns and operates. Other clients will have to choose to add it, though I imagine most will].

Walt: SMS seemed a bigger deal in the past, as a way to use Twitter.

Dick: Push notifications are growing, but it’s still used a lot. There are some countries where like in Haiti, 95% of user base accesses Twitter through SMS.

Walt: Let’s talk social graph. Is Schmidt right that Google blew identity?

Dick: Identity is fundamental. Can’t say if Google blew it. Different ways of thinking of things. We think not identity or social graph but an interest graph. Think we have powerful construct with user name, at conferences, people will put their real name and @handle under it. That’s another powerful form of identity.

And yes [to Walt follow up], we’ll be investing more to help promote and grow that user name for other uses. Much like Google Voice lets you give a phone number that can be better managed, the Twitter handle gives a way to get communication and control.

Walt: You weren’t in Schmidt’s Gang Of Four. Feel bad?

Dick: Well, Gang of Five isn’t a thing, he jokes. Reed Hastings of Netflix wasn’t in Gang of Four.

Walt: Is your goal to be in it in the future?

Dick: We don’t think of ourselves as a company in how we’re doing versus other guys. Of course you pay attention to competitive landscape. But when you think of your own goals, very few of those to be successful are whether you’re in the top five or the next five of an aggregate group of companies some of whom aren’t doing anything related to you. We aren’t going to be competing with Amazon. I worry about Twitter and how are we doing against our own goals.

Walt: Are you a business?

Dick: We are, and a successful one. Over 80% of all advertisers come back and re-up with Twitter. That tells you advertising on Twitter works. Average engagement rate is orders of magnitude is better than traditional digital advertising.

Walt: Better than Google?

Dick: They’re increasing [doesn't really answer]. Says VW had a promoted tweet with more than 50% engagement rate. That’s unheard of. Radio Shack had trade-in program, next few days, in stores purchases were up double-digit increases after Twitter ads. Increases that marketers can’t believe. Activity dashboard advertisers get that show all this. So the business is working phenomenally well.

Walt: Profitable?

Dick: We don’t talk about it.

Walt asks again, and again, and again in various ways. Dick stays silent.

– Miss some as banter over Mach 20 cars started, sorry –

Dick: The beauty of Twitter is more and more people are flocking to it because it shrinks our world.

Walt: When do you go public?

Dick: We don’t focus on that.

Question From Audience: Where are my old tweets?

Dick: We have to decide if we want to focus on big archive search or great short terms search. We’ve decided to focus on the immediate for now. Right now, it goes as far back as we feel we can rapidly show the search results.

Also see these:

Postscript: See Move Over Time Sorting: Twitter Gets “Top” Search Results

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Twitter


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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