SAN FRANCISCO--John Battelle, CEO of Federated Media, decided to have a little bit of speculative fun onstage Thursday with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the Web 2.0 Summit. It's the sort of "speculative fun" that could give tech bloggers a gossip-overload headache for weeks to come: Battelle decided to throw some fuel on the "Facebook might buy Twitter" fire. Which, as far as I can tell, is a relatively new addition to the rumor-roasting pit.
"Is Twitter just a feature of Facebook?" Battelle prodded. Facebook, after all, has its own "status" feature that arguably competes with FriendFeed.and
Zuckerberg answered cryptically. "Oh, that's tough."
Battelle then asked if Facebook's chief financial officer, Gideon Yu (yes, the one who's reportedly, depending on who you ask) has a "build-or-buy spreadsheet" on the wall of his office, jokingly implying that the company could be weighing the option of acquiring Twitter to boost its own "update" service. There wouldn't be a particularly logical way for the two to integrate, but what the heck? It's juicy, unfounded gossip ripe for the mongering! And once these things start, they can get deliciously out of hand.
The young CEO laughed it off, and said he's "really impressed by what they've done" at Twitter, and that it's "a very elegant model." He added that Twitter has signed on to the Facebook Connect data portability initiative.
Zuckerberg himself, unlike contemporaries like Digg's Kevin Rose and WordPress' Matt Mullenweg, does not use Twitter publicly. A handful of blogs have reported that he has a friends-only account with a tightly monitored friends list. But that, like so much else in this industry, appears to still be a rumor.