Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Twitter’s Slow-Motion Business Plan

Twitter appears to have yet another money-making scheme on tap: It will start giving retailers the ability to promote e-commerce specials via Twitter-endorsed accounts.

It would be something like Woot, or maybe Gilt Groupe, or maybe Amazon’s (AMZN) Gold Box Club, or maybe Dell’s (DELL) famous Twitter experiment. That is: Retailers are already using Twitter to do this sort of thing, but Twitter has ideas about turning it into something bigger. Or at least something that makes it some money.

That’s according to a recent report from ReadWriteWeb, which Twitter won’t confirm but won’t dispute. “We’ll definitely let you know when we’re ready to talk about it,” Twitter PR boss Sean Garrett writes via email. “Should be in the next couple of weeks.”

So let’s assume that’s legit. And let’s add it to the list of Twitter revenue gambits we’ve seen so far:

Did I miss anything? If so, let me know. But by my count, we’re now at five different ways for the famously revenue-free company to generate revenue.

Not all of those are going to be winners–we haven’t heard much about those custom pages for a year or so. And Promoted Tweets looks like the only one with potential to scale into something really big on its own–big enough to justify the lofty valuation Twitter landed when it raised that big pile of money last year.

But if you’re a Twitter booster, you have to feel good about that list of experiments. Twitter doesn’t need all of them to be huge successes–it has enough scale that even a bunch of moderate successes will translate into big numbers.

And in a worst-case scenario, where they all fail, the Twitter dudes can cross those efforts off and move on to something else. That’s what start-ups are supposed to do.

On the other hand? The constant, repetitive so-common-it-barely-raises-an-eyebrow failing? That won’t make Twitter boosters happy.

But good news! The World Cup is over in less than a week.