Data is Gold…Twitter Acquires GNIP

Photograph: Iain Masterton/Alamy via theguardian.co.uk

UPDATE – August 11, 2014: Twitter’s 10-Q filing with the SEC reveals the financial details behind the acquisition – $134M in stock and cash.

Under the terms of the acquisition, the Company (Twitter) agreed to pay $107.3 million in cash and issue a total of 0.6 million shares of common stock including shares of restricted stock subject to continued employment in consideration of all of the issued and outstanding shares of capital stock of Gnip.  In addition, the Company agreed to issue up to 0.4 million shares of the Company’s stock as a result of assumed Gnip equity awards held by individuals, who will continue to provide services to the Company.

 

“There can be only ONE.” This line from the Highlander series is what popped into my head when I saw GNIP (pronounced guh-nip) had been acquired by Twitter. Why you ask? Well in the Highlander series there could only be one immortal and at this rate there might end up being only one source for Twitter data. Twitter. Let me explain.

As of right now there are only four companies with licensed access to the Twitter “fire-hose”. If your software has a Twitter component that is billed as the “full Twitter feed”, “Twitter firehose”, “all of Twitter” or any other permutation you can think of it comes from one of four vendors: GNIP, Datasift, Topsy or NTT.

With Twitter’s purchase of GNIP there are only two independent firehose providers: Datasift and NTT. Topsy was acquired by Apple in December 2013 for $200M. This makes me think GNIP was purchased for something in the same neighborhood.

The power behind GNIP is it’s access to the historical Twitter data as well as the full Twitter firehose. Data is delivered to third party vendors via API who can then server up the data to suite their market. GNIP though provides exclusive data from FourSquare, StocTwits, Disqus,  and estimize along side the full Twitter firehose, Facebook, del.icio.us, Flikr, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, WordPress,  Bitly, Instagram, Reddit, vk,sitrion, intensedebate, Photobucket, PLURK, stackoverflow, vimeo, Panorami, metacafe and Dailymotion. That is a very well rounded offering that serves public relations and marketing monitoring needs for the most part. When Pintrest gets added then you will hear a collective Woop!

“Gnip says that working with Twitter as a part of the company will let it “go much faster and much deeper,” and they plan to expand support to include a wider set of potential use cases in different industries. “(Etherington, 2014)

What happens to Twitter access regarding DataSift, NTT & Topsy?

Twitter says that all customer contracts will be honored, but the real question is for how long? By bringing the data in house Twitter is establishing another battlement in the advertising $ war. Twitter will be in direct contact with the market and more profit will flow to the bottom line.

Through a blog post on Tuesday  Jana Messerschmidt, VP, Global Business Development & Platform at Twitter stated: “We believe “Gnip has only begun to scratch the surface. Together we plan to offer more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments, so that even more developers and businesses big and small around the world can drive innovation using the unique content that is shared on Twitter. We will continue making our data available to Gnip’s growing customer base.” (Messerschmidt, 2014)

“It is understood that Apple’s acquisition of Topsy raised red flags at Twitter HQ. Twitter relies on its ecosystem of data resellers, however small. With one of its few data resellers in the hands of Apple, it made sense for Twitter to bring a big data company in-house. The company needs to protect its interests and keep the remaining few data resellers out of the hands of competitors. The other option would be less attractive: If Gnip and Datasift were acquired by competitors, Twitter would have to scramble to build out comparable big data infrastructure itself. ” (Griffith, 2014)

GNIP’s competitors will now be at a disadvantage because once the acquisitions closes there is no telling what will be honored. Will GNIP continue to have a Facebook feed after the acquisition? – doubtful. Will DataSift and Topsy continue to have a full firehose feed from Twitter – extremely doubtful. Strategically speaking Twitter will want to own the access point in full. Will Twitter purchase NTT? That will require a bit more thought, but as a global strategy, why not?

References:

Etherington, D. (2014). Twitter Acquires Longtime Partner and Social Data Provider Gnip. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/15/twitter-acquires-longtime-partner-and-social-data-analytics-provider-gnip/

Messerschmidt. (2014). Twitter Welcomes Gnip to the Flock. [Blog Post] Retrieved from https://blog.twitter.com/2014/twitter-welcomes-gnip-to-the-flock

Griffith, E. (2014). Twitter plays defense with deal for Gnip. Retrieved from  http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2014/04/15/twitter-plays-defense-with-deal-for-gnip/?section=magazines_fortune

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