Evan Williams, CEO, Twitter
What makes him powerful: If a tree falls in the forest and no one tweets about the crash, then it doesn't make a sound. Twitter, the free microblogging service created by software architect Jack Dorsey, transformed from cult phenomenon to mainstream juggernaut in 2009, revolutionizing how users interfaced with the world; tweets--the 140-character messages that make up the global Twitter dialogue--have now become the preferred medium of communication for more than 50 million executives, celebrities, athletes and everyday people. Earlier this month, Twitter topped the 5 billion tweet threshold according to a counter posted on the GigaTweet website, which analyzes Twitter messages in real time; the GigaTweet counter stood at 1.6 billion tweets as of April 2009, meaning Twitter users have posted about 3.4 billion tweets in the last six months alone.
Twitter is presently valued at $1 billion, almost double the market capitalization of the Domino's Pizza chain, which boasts 10,500 employees and $1.4 billion in sales. Twitter has about 60 employees, and while the startup is experimenting with running advertisements on its website, the company said it has no plans to launch widespread ad efforts until 2010.
But that doesn't mean that no one is making money from Twitter. In fact, a growing number of businesses are sprouting up across the social media landscape, building services and applications designed to improve and expand the Twitter user experience across both the online and mobile platforms. Even mobile operators are hopping aboard the Twitter bandwagon--in September, Verizon Wireless introduced Tweet-Tweet, a Twitter-based application available on close to 60 feature phones from manufacturers including LG, Samsung and Motorola.
The challenge facing CEO Evan Williams is sustaining Twitter's momentum as its novelty wears off and the seemingly inevitable backlash sets in--the company must also continue adding value for users as it builds towards a viable, long-term revenue model. In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Williams said Twitter's future lies on the mobile platform: "The best business models come from where people can create the most value. I think Twitter can create the most value on mobile phones, because it is more immediate. Most people cannot live without their mobile phones over their PCs, and we believe we can enhance people's lives on the move." --Jason