In February when it appeared that Bill Gross’ Ubermedia had purchased Tweetdeck, the most popular third-party service to use Twitter, it seemed like a huge coup for Ubermedia and a major strategic blunder by Twitter.
With about 5% of the market for people looking read and publish tweets, Tweetdeck was the biggest prize for anyone looking to establish a solid foothold within the TwitterSphere. So when Ubermedia apparently agreed to acquire Tweetdeck for $30-million, it looked like Bill Gross had outmaneuvered Twitter. At the same time, it was also more evidence of how Twitter has been stumbling strategically, highlighted by the fact it has failed to make acquisitions that seem like no-brainers (e.g. TwitPic, Bit.ly)
But now it appears the Ubermedia-Tweetdeck deal was never consummated, and that Twitter is now in discussions to buy Tweetdeck for $50 million, according to the Wall St. Journal.
A Twitter-Tweetdeck deal makes complete sense, mostly because Twitter.com sucks as a way. While Twitter claimed earlier this year that 90% of Twitter users used “official” Twitter applications, a study by Sysomos (a client) found that only 58% of people use official Twitter applications to tweet.
Twitter would never admit it but Twitter.com continues to be a low-frills platform to use Twitter, while dozens of third-party companies such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Seesmic have developed much more feature-rich, user-friendly and more interesting services and applications.
In theory, Twitter should have acquired Tweetdeck long ago when it became apparent it was becoming the most popular way to use Twitter other than Twitter.com.
When UberMedia made its move for Tweetdeck, it was a shot across the bow for Twitter given that UberMedia has emerged as a pesky rival after acquiring a portfolio of applications and services. In many ways, Twitter had little choice but to acquire Tweetdeck with some of its venture capital booty.
The winner in this battle between UberMedia and Twitter is Tweetdeck founder Iain Dodsworth (left) who has found himself as the belle of the ball. Armed with $4-million venture capital from the Accelerator Group, Betaworks, Ron Conway and Howard Lindzon, Tweetdeck’s popularity has been propelled by its growing number of features, including the ability to create multiple tabs to monitor direct messages, lists and keywords searches.
For more on the Tweetdeck-Twitter discussions, check out VentureBeat and GigaOm. Not to jump on the M&A bandwagon like the rest of the blogosphere,TechCrunch also has a post on five reasons Twitter will kill TweetDeck.