Does Twitter Mean Business? Answer May Come This Week


This is the week we learn how Twitter plans to transform itself from a cultural phenomenom into a real, revenue-generating business.

For years now Twitter has been pestered by bloggers and nay-sayers (yes, they are often one in the same) that it is nothing more than a passing fad that will go the way of My Space.

Twitter founder Biz Stone and his supporters beg to differ. At the CTIA conference in Las Vegas last month, Stone told me in an exclusive interview, that this the week they are going to announce, finally, how they plan to monetize this large asset of content-generating users. (See my entire interview with Biz Stone here).

CNBC is making this a big-time event with coverage all week long. Today, I am co-anchoring "Power Lunch" live from the Harvard Business School, were we’ve commissioned MBA students to come up with their own business plans for Twitter. Why not give the folks at Twitter some free advice? We will be interviewing professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, who teaches an entire class on social networking. Didn’t think that was possible.

In a survey of Harvard students, 85 percent believe that Twitter has to use advertising to generate revenue. They could also sell data and analytics, or charge business users, according to 69 percent of those surveyed.

We’ve also got Arianna Huffington coming on the show. She has just announced a Twitter edition of the Huffington Post. Apparently, it is a stand-alone unit, that will generate independent content. This is significantly different than what we’ve seen from websites until now, which use Twitter as a way to post links to longer articles.

Then we will have a debate between Gary Vaynerchuck, a Twitter believer, and Peter Kafka, a Twitter skeptic.

Later this week, my colleague Julia Boorstin will report from the Chirp conference in San Francisco, which is the Burning Man for developers of Twitter apps. What if the business model requires them to now pay a fee to Twitter? That is a possibility as well.

Many of those apps creators are making money via Twitter even though Twitter itself is not. Maybe Twitter now demands a cut.

It will be a week of high business drama.

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