Growth Matters: Twitter tweets a happy tune

With all the gloom in the global economy, I got to wondering whether there is anything else going on in the world of business. I'm looking for growth because I think that's what will ultimately bring the economy out of the doldrums. Not surprisingly, that growth is coming from technology companies. In Growth Matters, I look at consumer technology companies that point the way to growth trends -- and in the process introduce services and products you may want to explore.

Twitter is one of the most successful tech startups of the last several years. It lets people post short messages about what's on their mind and to see the same for their colleagues and friends. As co-founder Biz Stone told me, Twitter is "the pulse of what is happening right now-around the world or among a small group. To explain Twitter to someone unfamiliar with it, I'd probably show Twitter Search and then show how to get more involved."

Stone described Twitter's history as follows: "The idea of glancing at just the away messages of friends and colleagues to get a sense what everyone was up to came from Jack Dorsey. We combined it with mobile texting and a compelling new form of communication emerged. We've come a long way since founding the company in 2007."

Twitter has been exceptionally successful when it comes to getting media attention. The popular Valleywag blog has a Twitterati feature about famous media people who tweet -- which is the nickname for Twitter messages -- and the New York Times recently published an article about Twitter. But Twitter currently doesn't generate a penny of revenue.

According to Stone, "Twitter does not generate revenues as we focus on overall system growth and performance. However, we do see a good deal of commercial usage now happening over Twitter, so we think there is potential there when we are ready. Right now we are privately funded."

And thanks to its growth -- as Stone said, Twitter's "active users have grown 900% in the last 12 months. All of Twitter's growth is organic. Folks are hearing about Twitter from friends or from news stories and they're signing up" -- it just got $35 million in venture capital. This brings its total capital to $55 million, which it will use to add to its 29 employees.

If you're looking for a job, Twitter is hiring -- and if you get a job there, you'll be tweeting a happy tune.

Peter Cohan is president ofPeter S. Cohan & Associates. He also teaches management at Babson College. His eighth book isYou Can't Order Change: Lessons from Jim McNerney's Turnaround at Boeing. He has no financial interest in the securities mentioned.

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