Could Twitter outage derail Google and Microsoft talks?

9 Oct 2009

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The popular microblogging service Twitter, which is in licensing negotiations with the two giants of the internet, Microsoft and Google, suffered an outage this week.

This couldn’t have happened at a worse time for the San Francisco start-up.

Twitter users yesterday were only able to post tweets to their own streams, but updates from other followers proved elusive.

The outage occurred late on Wednesday night and it wasn’t until earlier yesterday afternoon that normal service resumed.

Twitter attributed the outage to a bug triggered by an edge case in one of the core services that powers its service.

Tweets may meet search results

Ironically, the outage – which was reported as a suspected DDOS attack on TechCrunch – occurred at the same time it became news that Twitter is in discussions with both Google and Microsoft about potentially combining tweets into internet search results.

Would such an outage derail negotiations? Hardly. Google itself suffered an outage on its popular Gmail service last month and Microsoft has decades of experience dealing with reports of vulnerabilities in its operating systems.

The simple truth is that Twitter is an irresistible force in the emerging social media world.

The service, which boasts more than 6 million monthly unique visitors and, according to Nielsen, has a 40pc user retention rate, is rocking the worlds of media, public relations, sales, politics and much more.

Twitter’s venture capital

The company this year raised US$35 million in venture capital from Insight Venture Partners, T. Rowe Price, Institutional Venture Partners, Spark Capital, Benchmark Capital, and Morgan Stanley.

As the company strives to find a meaningful business plan, it is emerging as a powerful search engine in its own right, providing researchers with valuable insights into the zeitgeist of any given day.

For Microsoft and Google, incorporating Twitter feeds into search results would be a matter of necessity. No argument. The only question is who will get there first.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Twitter is in talks with Google and Microsoft about potentially combining tweets into internet search results.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com