San Francisco based micro-blogging site Twitter has managed to secure US $15 million dollars in VC funding as reported by tech blog GigaOm, leaving them with a valuation of US $80 million dollars. This comes at an interesting time for the site, which has spent the past few days in a constant struggle to stay up and running.
No Longer for Just the Tech Elite
Twitter, which we first covered in March 2007 is currently making its way into the mainstream. Previously the playground for Internet addicted San Francisco tech elite, the microblogging site, which allows users to post updates of 140 characters or less by either web, a third party client (Twitter's API is one of the most popular on the Web and is used far more frequently than its own site), by instant message or by SMS, is becoming extremely popular outside of the insular tech community.
Who's Tweeting Now?
Celebrities A group of celebrities have started using the site, acquiring thousands of "followers" in hours and ranging from screenwriter Diablo Cody to former rapper turned preacher MC Hammer (who frequently tweets about the internet parties he attends). Online Marketers Online marketers have discovered the site is a very effective tool for getting the word out about their products much to the dismay of some more experienced Twitterers; some resourceful ones have started a site "blacklisting" the most add happy "Twitter spammers". Corporations Even stodgy old corporations have gotten into the game and have started using Twitter to track and respond to customer inquiries and complaints, most notably online shoe retailer Zappos, who has embraced Twitter so much that Zappos CEO Tony threw Twitter users a party in San Francisco. Other corporations that have started using Twitter are Jetblue and Comcast.
So What's Happening With Twitter Anyway?
With all this attention, increase in use and now this extra cash, it's very unfortunate that for now, users are having such a hard time accessing the site. While many would be quick to point out the site's known scalability issues, the truth is that they don't know why the site is down so frequently (or won't admit to knowing why).
On their company blog, Jack writes: "We've gone through our various databases, caches, web servers, daemons and despite some increased traffic activity across the board, all systems are running nominally. The truth is we're not sure what's happening. It seems to be occurring in-between these parts."
With money and attention and nearly universal use by some of technology's most influential people, Twitter is destined for greatness. This is the year that will make or break them before the masses get fed up and move on to the next big thing.
With such a simple idea that has so many uses, it would be a shame to see them get destroyed by an inability to keep the most basic functions of the site up and running. Here's hoping they make it through these tough times and emerge triumphant.