Where has the time gone? It’s officially been five years since the first-ever tweet was sent by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. The message, which read simply “just setting up my twttr,” has since been followed by some 30 billion 140-character-or-less musings as Twitter has exploded into a world-culture centerpiece.
With a valuation said to be approaching $10 billion, the acceleration of Twitter domination still hasn’t slowed, and neither has its impact and implications. Once often criticized by the mainstream media for being mundane and trivial, the service has already played a major role in world events, rapidly evolving to become a prime resource of information for the people’s uprising in Egypt and elsewhere.
In Moldova, Iran, Tunisia and Egypt, protestors turned the site into a communications hub, using it to coordinate movements and get their message out to the world. It has become a beacon of real-time updates on breaking news, the sheer mass of amateur updates shaping a picture altogether different from the filter of a potentially influenced media source.
Some estimates put the company’s 2011 revenue at $150 million, as its advertising platform continues to evolve. Twitter currently fields 140 million tweets in a typical day, or more than 1,600 every second. So what does that indicate about the next five years for the company?
Rumors of an exit to the likes of Google or Microsoft never seem to go away, but bids will have to contend with Twitter executives’ hefty ambitions, with recent quotes including co-founder Evan Williams predicting a milestone of one billion users, while CEO Dick Costolo compares the service to an essential utility, not unlike water.