Step 1: Buy data firm Gnip
Twitter is purchasing its long-time data partner Gnip in order to sell more sophisticated products built from the Twitter dataset. The social network has historically sold access to its so-called firehose—the never-ending stream of all public tweets—to a few select companies, who then license that data to businesses and academics.
By purchasing Gnip, Twitter will be able to directly cut deals with the companies that want to use its data. “We want to make our data even more accessible, and the best way to do that is to work directly with our customers to get a better understanding of their needs,” Twitter wrote in a blog post. “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.”
Gnip currently provides its customers with access to data from a variety of online platforms, including Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare. It’s not clear whether Twitter will renew contracts to access these companies’ datasets, or whether these companies will allow it. Gnip’s current customers, such as the Library of Congress, will continue have access to Twitter data, the company said in the announcement of the deal. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment; no deal price was disclosed.
Twitter made $70 million in 2013 selling access to tweets to Gnip and other data resellers, up from $47 million in 2012. Corporations like IBM and Oracle pay tens of thousands of dollars per month for access to the Twitter firehose, Gnip CEO Chris Moody told TIME last fall. LinkedIn, which directly offers businesses access to all of its users’ resumes through its Recruiter tool, has proven that licensing social data can be extremely lucrative. By bringing data sales in-house, Twitter may be hoping to imitate that success.
The company, which posted a small profit for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2013, has faced a slumping stock price in the last two months due to investor worries about slowing user growth and an overall decline in the tech sector.