VC touts Twitter integrated search, featured users

In a presentation to a group of TV executives, Union Square Ventures' Fred Wilson gives us the first public look at integrated Twitter Search and "featured users."

Update with comment from Biz Stone at the bottom.

In a presentation to a group of TV executives, Fred Wilson (an investment analyst at Union Square Ventures, one of Twitter's investors) showed off what appears to be integrated search in Twitter.

Integrated Twitter search with "featured users." Fred Wilson on Slideshare

As seen on slide 22 of Wilson's presentation, this new version of Twitter features a whole page, framed in the Twitter user interface, that shows real-time search results and trending topics, such as those currently seen on along with a brand-new "featured user" element on the right.

We have known that integrated search has been coming for some time, and Biz Stone even wrote that it Twitter would start testing integrated search in February, so this is no shocker. It is interesting to see how the microblogging service might be going about implementing it, though.

I have to note that in comparing Biz's small screen capture in the Twitter Blog post linked above to this one from Fred Wilson's presentation, it appears that Wilson's shot might be older, so Twitter's integrated search might look different in its current state.

One of the really interesting parts about this screenshot is the presence of the "featured user" in the right sidebar. This example shows ESPN being a featured user. Could this be Twitter's long-awaited plan to make money?

Forbes noted last month that Twitter is working on being able to sell analytical Twitter data to businesses, but this could be a nice supplementary revenue stream. The details of how this "featured user" program might work are obviously unclear, as all we have to go on is this screenshot, but I think that it's safe to assume that Twitter will charge people for a spot as a featured user.

As always, we will have more on this, as it develops. If you want to take a look, Wilson's presentation with the new Twitter features on slide 22 is embedded on the right.

Biz Stone has just gotten back to us with a comment on Featured Users. It doesn't look like Twitter has plans to monetize Featured Users in the near future. Here's what he had to say:

"Featured Users and Suggested Users are pretty much the same thing. Right now we have Suggested Users and we're testing search results pages with Featured Users. Right now the Suggested or Featured users are similar to Staff Picks at your local book store. Eventually we'd like to get a little smarter there and maybe do recommendations but it works fine for now."

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