How Twitter could be worth nothing in a year

Silicon Alley Insider believes Twitter could be worth $1 billion in a year. Don Reisinger argues it could be worth nothing if it doesn't turn things around soon.

Silicon Alley Insider on Monday wrote that it believes Twitter could be worth "a billion dollars" in one year as long as it "takes full advantage of (its) messaging platform, user base, and user disposition to lead in the P2P mobile payments space, where, despite years of hype, no one has much of a head start."

After reading through the piece, it had me thinking: what if Twitter isn't worth "billions" in one year and instead, it's worth nothing? Just because it has a huge user base and it may be able to take advantage of its messaging platform, can we simply forget that it's down every single day for extended periods of time? Can we simply forget that important features like "replies" are disabled for days at a time because "Twitter is stressing out"?

Twitter may be a destination for millions of people and a great place for self-indulged "Internet celebrities" to massage their egos as more and more people follow them, but it's a poorly designed site with huge stability issues and enough downtime that people are becoming more and more likely to jump ship and join services like FriendFeed and maybe even Jaiku.

It may be difficult to believe such a popular site could be worth nothing in a year, but the way I see it, it's certainly more likely than Twitter being worth $1 billion in that time.

How much longer are we really willing to stand by and let Twitter's downtime ruin our experience before we move on? According to the Royal Pingdom, Twitter downtime last year was almost six days and in December 2007, it was at its worst point in four months--10 hours, 59 minutes.

Of course, Twitter knows there's trouble afoot. In the past two months alone, the company has issued a handful of posts on its blog explaining why Twitter was down for one reason or another, or why replies stopped working for a few days. And while I applaud the company on its open line of communication, why can't it start figuring things out and stop wasting our time with the same old line of excuses?

Some say its new round of funding will help. According to the company, Twitter has received an additional $15 million in funds and will use this money to stabilize the product and create a more compelling service. But I'm not so sure the train hasn't already left the station.

In the past week alone, when replies were lost and people were obviously upset with its performance, my in-box was inundated with FriendFeed subscriptions, indicating some people have finally seen the light and decided that a service that makes a big deal out of being live for 24 hours isn't the best place to be.

There's a huge attraction level to Twitter. According to most estimates, the average person writes 15 tweets per day and updates many more times than that to see what their friends are up to. But at what point does that well dry up and people see this service for what it really is: something that people really like, but due to its downtime and disabled features, is becoming nothing more than a frustrating and unreliable waste of space.

If Twitter doesn't turn things around, it'll be worth nothing in a year. The way I see it, the company's huge user base is starting to lose interest and find other services (like FriendFeed) that offer similar functionality, but have the kind of reliability we're all looking for in online services.

In order to turn things around, Twitter needs to spend considerable cash on stabilizing the site and making sure that it'll survive when people want to Tweet back and forth during a Steve Jobs keynote and handle the stress during daily use. If it can't do that within the next few months, a mass exodus will surely happen and people will find other services to spend time on. And in the process, this once valuable company that was worthy of $15 million in funding, will be worth nothing in no time.

It's time to wake up and get to work, Twitter. Your users are losing patience and unless you want to see them all move to FriendFeed, you better get to work before it's too late. Trust me, time is running out.

In the meantime, feel free to follow Don on Twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook.

 

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