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What Value in the Firehose?

November 18, 2010 16:27:37.000

I see that Twitter has found a revenue model - selling access to the firehose:

And then there’s Twitter, which jealously guards access to its full stream of tweets (roughly 1,000 per second, these days). As of now, however, it’s signed a deal with Gnip whereby you can get a randomly-selected 50% of those tweets for $360,000 a year, which works out at $30,000 a month. You’re not allowed to republish them, but that’s OK—the people willing to spend that kind of money are likely to be high-frequency trading shops who want to keep the data as private as possible in any case.

That sounds reasonable at first inspection, but you have to wonder where the kid is who will notice that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes. Say you pay $360k for access to that - here are the trending topics as of a few minutes ago:

So... where is the value that can be monetized in any of that? Go ahead and follow the top one, and see if you can tell me where the value is, because I sure don't see it.

If you stay on Twitter, you'll notice that the top trending topics tend to be one of two things: celebrity gossip and nonsense. How anyone paying $360k to get access to a stream of stuff on that will find value is beyond me. It's great that Twitter has found a way to sell something - and it will keep working until the buyers come to their senses and realize that it has no value. Then again, most of the buyers are probably in PR and marketing, so that realization probably won't arrive...

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posted by James Robertson


Re: What Value in the Firehose?

[anonymous] November 18, 2010 20:25:07.187

James James, you are forgetting this gives a true statistical sampling of what people are thinking about your product or which party you will vote for or what the topic of the day/week is so you can screw with the message in order to get elected.

Remember telephone polling is just so fraught with issues. Now THEY can get data without YOU knowing you are talking to a pollster. And yes the topic of the day can affect WHO america votes for tomorrow. So worth lots of $$$$$$$$$$$

Re: What Value in the Firehose?

[James Robertson] November 18, 2010 21:51:29.796

Well, I think it makes as much sense as your comment....

Re: What Value in the Firehose?

[W^L+] November 19, 2010 16:45:59.374

I'll bet they have secret deals for near-realtime search with Google and Bing/Yahoo. Those are probably the best possible customers for firehose access.

As for the above commenter, it could make sense at three thousand or even thirty thousand a year, but if a large corporation or political group is spending three hundred thousand dollars a year, someone had better make a good case that they need to hear what's being said.

As James pointed out, you can sign up for free and watch the trending topics to see the big things, or run a search for your company name / product to get the same information with a lot less noise.

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