The moment Jack Dorsey lost
The moment Jack Dorsey lost came well before he became Twitter’s (part time) CEO. It was when he lost the Instagram deal to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
Kevin Systrom had worked closely with Dorsey at Odeo and the two had a rapport. He was the main point person on the deal. And he just didn’t move aggressively enough.
All of that has been well documented, even if parts of the account have been disputed by different parties at different times.
Something that’s been repeated even more is what a different world it would be if Twitter had gotten Instagram. After all, it’s Instagram that celebrities like Kardashians spend the bulk of their time on, while only Kanye Kardashian saves his “best” for Twitter. (Waamp Waamp.) And as we and others reported last week, Instagram has more active advertisers than Twitter right now.
Instagram is not only a successful platform and increasingly great monetization engine, it’s Facbeook’s continual sandbox for real time conversational product and celebrity products. ie: It’s ground zero for taking on Twitter and Snapchat.
Instagram hasn’t always succeeded at exactly this task. Several years ago, it hoped to take on the citizen journalism style telling of live political events around the world the way Twitter did with Arab Spring. It mostly stayed selfies and food, while Snapchat stories has emerged as the potential spoiler there.
But Instagram has excelled with celebrities and they enjoy a medium with far less nastiness and bullying on Instagram. Think that matters to celebrities? Watch Jimmy Kimmel. Or watch five minutes of the View where it’s become common place for the ladies to preface anything divisive with “Before you blow me up on Twitter…”
Perhaps, as Fred Wilson suggests, Instagram hasn’t stolen Twitter’s thunder as the place to, say, group watch the Oscars. But it’s fractured the market for the things Twitter had that Facebook previously didn’t.
Zuckerberg himself summed this up at a town hall meeting in Berlin this week. When asked what he would do to save Twitter, he stammered a bit and then described Instagram. While he’s talked about wanting to own real time conversations, it’s interesting how much he themed it around celebrity. After all, early on Facebook differentiated by being the utility for everyday folks over the more celebrity and indie music oriented MySpace.
VentureBeat had a partial transcript of the moment:
Let me answer that question by talking about what we’ve done with Instagram. Facebook traditionally has been a service that is mostly focused on more private communication, with friends, small groups. One of the things I think other networks — such as Twitter or YouTube — have traditionally done more on is on public content.
Recently, with Instagram, and Facebook as well, we’ve realized that that’s an area (public content) in the community we’re building. People want to keep in touch with the athletes that they care about, the celebrities, the actors, the political and civil leaders. Giving people tools to be able to share who they care about, and follow those things, I think it has contributed to a large degree in the growth of Instagram. And I think it has historically to the growth of Twitter too.
But it’s certainly an area we’re seeing with Instagram, people follow the public figures that they care about…
..we’ve executed the roadmap that I’m talking about in terms of giving people — public figures — the ability to produce great raw content of what’s going on in their lives and giving people the ability to connect with that.
This is one of many reasons why those saying Facebook might buy Twitter if it gets cheap enough are out of their minds. For one thing Facebook doesn’t tend to go for “cheap buys.” For another, it already bought that four years ago.