Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short 140-character text messages, called "tweets". Registered users can read and post tweets, but unregistered users can only read them. Twitter Inc. is based in San Francisco and has offices in New York City, Boston, Austin and Detroit. Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass and by July 2006 the site was launched. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity, with 500 million registered users in 2012, who posted 340 million tweets per day. In 2013 Twitter was one of the ten most-visited websites, and has been described as "the SMS of the Internet."
Twitter's origins lie in a "daylong brainstorming session" held by board members of the podcasting company Odeo. Dorsey, then an undergraduate student at New York University, introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group. The original project code name for the service was twttr, an idea that Williams later ascribed to Noah Glass, inspired by Flickr and the five-character length of American SMS short codes. The developers initially considered "10958" as a short code, but later changed it to "40404" for "ease of use and memorability." Work on the project started on March 21, 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter message at 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST): "just setting up my twttr". Dorsey has explained the origin of the "Twitter" title: ...we came across the word 'twitter', and it was just perfect. The definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds'. And that's exactly what the product was.
With Twitter, it wasn't clear what it was. They called it a social network, they called it microblogging, but it was hard to define, because it didn't replace anything. There was this path of discovery with something like that, where over time you figure out what it is. Twitter actually changed from what we thought it was in the beginning, which we described as status updates and a social utility. It is that, in part, but the insight we eventually came to was Twitter was really more of an information network than it is a social network.
In August 2010, the company appointed Adam Bain from News Corp.'s Fox Audience Network as president of revenue. The company experienced rapid growth. It had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007. This grew to 100 million tweets posted per quarter in 2008. In February 2010, Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. By March 2010, the company recorded over 70,000 registered applications. As of June 2010, about 65 million tweets were posted each day, equaling about 750 tweets sent each second, according to Twitter. As of March 2011, that was about 140 million tweets posted daily. As noted on Compete.com, Twitter moved up to the third-highest-ranking social networking site in January 2009 from its previous rank of twenty-second.
On November 7, 2013, the first day of trading on the NYSE, Twitter shares opened at $26.00 and closed at US$44.90, giving the company a valuation of around US$31 billion. This was $18.90 above the initial offering price and Twitter ended with a market capitalization of $24.46 billion. The paperwork from November 7 shows that among the founders, Williams received a sum of US$2.56 billion and Dorsey received US$1.05 billion, while Costolo's payment was US$345 million. As of 13 December 2013, Twitter had "a market capitalization of $32.76 billion". On February 5, 2014, Twitter published its first results as a public company, showing a net loss of $511 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.
In 2012, the country with the most active users on Twitter was China. Following is a list of the countries with the most active Twitter users:
- China- 35.5 million
- India- 33.0 million
- U.S.- 22.9 million
- Brazil- 19.6 million
- Mexico- 11.7 million
As of May 21, 2014, these are the top Twitter accounts with the most followers:
- Katy Perry- 53,134,789
- Justin Bieber- 51,734,936
- Barack Obama- 43,106,983
- YouTube- 42,106,400
- Lady Gaga- 41,421,791
- Taylor Swift- 40,874,716
- Britney Spears- 37,253,827
- Rihanna- 35,405,688
- Instagram- 32,707,550
10. Justin Timberlake 32,280,340