Is Data Twitter Inc.'s Real Advantage?

For Twitter (NYSE: TWTR  ) , data used to be everything. Acquiring social data specialist Gnip could allow the company to get back to its roots, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says in the following video.

Twitter has been banking on data since the beginning. In February 2009, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams described the bits and bytes flowing through the company's network as a sort of competitive edge.

"We have enough traffic on our website that we could put ads on there and maybe we could make enough to pay our bills, but that's not the most interesting thing we can do," Williams told the Associated Press at the time.

Four years later, ads account for 91% of Twitter revenue, up sharply from just 64% in the first quarter of 2011. Gnip could help to alter the equation. How? Access to tools for accessing and analyzing real-time streams of social data.

Gartner refers to the opportunity as "data-as-a-service," predicting in a December note that the segment would significantly grow the overall market for business intelligence and analytics. The message? Ads were necessary to get to this point. Soon, they could be the least interesting element of Twitter's growth story.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you believe the Gnip deal will help Twitter get back to its roots?  Why or why not? Please watch the video to get the full story and then leave a comment to let us know your take, including whether you would buy, sell, or short Twitter stock at current prices.

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  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2014, at 7:22 AM, TerryTimko wrote:

    Data & Info as a service is already a $100B industry from FICO to Reed Elsevier to Nielsen to D&B to ... not to mention the long long tail. What is interesting here is the convergence of this commercial data with open data and now social data. Huge $ to be made and even bigger economic impact.

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Tim Beyers

Tim Beyers first began writing for the Fool in 2003. Today, he's an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova. At, he covers disruptive ideas in technology and entertainment, though you'll most often find him writing and talking about the business of comics. Find him online at or send email to For more insights, follow Tim on Google+ and Twitter.

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