Massucci's Take: Is Twitter jumping the shark with CEO's Oprah appearance?

Twitter co-founder and CEO Evan Williams appeared on Oprah to talk about Twitter's meteoric rise to fame. Oprah sent her first Tweet and got all giddy when she was Tweeted back from Shaq and Ellen DeGeneres.

Williams was on the show for about a segment (to use TV jargon) when Oprah asked how he came up with the cute Twitter name? Ev (his Twitter handle) told Oprah he didn't originally know that twitter was the "word for the sound that birds make to communicate with each other." Ev, buddy, we appreciate your honesty, but did you have to say that out loud? On Oprah?

It got me thinking: Are we witnessing the early stages of Twitter becoming the next Google (GOOG) or is this groundswell of adulation actually Twitter jumping the shark?

Ashton Kutcher was also on Oprah (via Skype, of course) bragging about how he beat CNN by being the first Twitter member to score one million followers. It happened at 2 a.m. New York time on Friday, Oprah said. Kutcher (who's known on Twitter as aplusk, which is short for his initials, A-plus-K). Yes, I too groaned at that. But hey, whatever it takes to get to one mil!

Other than the who-knew-what-Twitter-meant comment, Williams was professional during his confab with Oprah. He talked about how the company has 35 employees and gave lots of credit to the company's other co-founders, Jack Dorsey (who came up with the Twitter name and was CEO before Williams) and Biz Stone.

There has been much speculation in the press in the past month that Google offered to buy Twitter or was or is in negotiations to buy Twitter. Ev didn't talk about that. (I wrote last month that Twitter needs to raise money to support its fast growth, while not generating much revenue.)

Google CEO Eric Schmidt did talk about it Thursday on Google's earnings conference call with analysts and investors. Schmidt wouldn't comment on Google's interest in buying Twitter, when asked on the call. But he did say Twitter is "incredibly useful," and that Google would be "very happy" to help them pursue their growth strategy.

Twitter "proves that people really want to communicate," Schmidt said.

Kutcher also did a decent job of pointing out the value of Twitter, telling Oprah Winfrey and her audience that Twitter shows how one person can beat an established media company, such as CNN, in the world of social networking.

Turns out that Demi Moore's husband heard Thursday that Anderson Cooper and other CNN hosts were making the push for CNN's Twitter handle to be the first to reach a million. He took to Google's YouTube and pushed his fans to help support his soon-to-be victory.

He also said that celebrities and non-celebs can use Twitter to "set the record straight immediately," when a nasty or untrue rumor about them is being spread. There is value in that for folks, no doubt, Oprah said.

So Ev and Aplusk had their moment on Oprah. We'll soon know if this is a stepping-stone for something much greater for Twitter, or the moment it pulled a Tom Cruise and jumped up and down on her couch.

  • Anthony Massucci is a senior writer for DailyFinance. He covered technology companies for Bloomberg News. And, yes, he (Twitter handle: hianthony) has a Twitter page.
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