Accosted by Twitter at Web 2.0 Expo

Three companies have ways to make money from the company that's not making money.

Web 2.0 Expo

I was not surprised that fully half the walk-up pitches I got at Web 2.0 Expo (as in, people walking up to me and pitching their product before I could barely say hello) were related to Twitter. As we all well know, Twitter as a platform and a network has incredible value, even if Twitter as a company has yet to figure out how to turn it into a cash register. Here are three of the Twitter-related companies you can find at Web 2.0 Expo:

CoTweet is a very clever company that will probably start making a nice living from Twitter long before Twitter does. It's essentially customer relation management software for Twitter (see also Salesforce jumps on Twitter-for-CRM bandwagon). It lets you create group Twitter accounts, so that multiple people can update one Twitter feed. More importantly, it performs triage on replies (@ replies and direct messages) to that account, to make sure that someone in the team who works on that Twitter account gets the reply and handles it. As CoTweet provides real value to people managing consumer brands, it will not be hard for the company to charge for its service.

Tmeet is a little location-reporting system for Twitter and iPhones. Like Foursquare and Brightkight, it makes it simple to send a note out to Twitter--either to all your followers or directly to just one--telling them where you are. While I like Foursquare's clever social system and its game-like nature (you earn badges for reporting in), Tmeet looks more useful for just telling a friend where you are at the moment. Plus, the team behind it is already running ads on the service (they're completely inoffensive), and according to co-creator Sudha Jamthe, those ads will soon be location-aware.

Finally, the online dictation company Quicktate was showing off its phone-call-to-Twitter service Tweetcall. Not entirely a new idea, and it's really a demo for the company's U.S.-based human dictation service that relies to a large extent on an army of "stay-at-home moms." Quicktate CEO Lee Dorfman told me "voicemail-length" snippets generally get returned with text in about two minutes, and that the price for longer dictations is competitive with the services that send your file overseas--when you consider the quality, he adds. At any rate, if you ever find yourself with a crushing desire to send a Twitter and for some reason you just can't get to a keyboard, this little experiment might help you out. Tweetcall is still in private beta, though.