April 2014 Archives

Today's announcement that Twitter is buying Gnip raises big questions about the market for social media data. While it's too early to know how things will fall out, the deal changes the shape of the playing field for everyone involved—publishers, data resellers, software developers, and corporate customers.

Twitter has bought other companies in the social media analysis space—BackType (2011), Bluefin Labs (2013), Trendrr (2013)—but Gnip is a bigger deal. Gnip competes with other Twitter partners, and Twitter competes with other Gnip partners. If you weren't sure, things just got interesting.

As a reminder, here's my view of the social data ecosystem:

Social data ecosystem

Anyone who works with data from social media sources has an interest in how the rest of the ecosystem reacts to the Gnip acquisition. Here's my initial take on what to watch for:

  • Twitter competitors
    Twitter isn't the only data source for Gnip. Gnip's sources include full feeds from Tumblr, Foursquare, WordPress, and more. It also manages API access for Facebook, Google, and others that probably see Twitter as a competitor. How will these companies ("publishers" in the data market) react to the deal? Will access to data from Twitter competitors remain available through Gnip?

  • Gnip competitors
    Twitter has offered its data through multiple data partners; how will DataSift, Dataminr, and NTT Data fit into the revised model? What impact will that have on their customers? (In a post, DataSift says its "relationship, contract and data resyndication partnership" are unchanged.)

  • Other data providers
    There are other companies in the social data business, mainly those specializing in collecting data from blogs and forums. Will they add (or drop) services in response to the changing market?
I won't speculate on the answers to these questions today, but they're the questions I'm pondering in the wake of the announcement. Change reverberates, so these are things to watch.

I've asked Twitter for a comment, but I suspect we just have to wait for the answers.

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About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
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