Twitter Acquires Data Startup Gnip
Twitter is acquiring social data analytics firm Gnip, a step that will give the microblogging service more control over the monetization of its data.
The value of the deal was not immediately disclosed, but Gnip has raised $6.6 million in funding. Gnip was the first company to be authorized to resell Twitter’s historical data.
Twitter and Gnip announced a partnership in 2010 that provided the “firehose” of data to clients, helping to generate revenue from the information created by Twitter’s user base.
“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. To that end, we have agreed to acquire Gnip, a leading provider of social data and a long-standing Twitter data partner,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.
Gnip was founded in 2008 and claims to be Twitter’s first data partner. It works with a variety of clients including Tumblr, WordPress and Foursquare. It also provides Twitter data to the Library of Congress.
“Combining forces with Twitter allows us to go much faster and much deeper. We’ll be able to support a broader set of use cases across a diverse set of users including brands, universities, agencies, and developers big and small,” Gnip said in a statement on its blog.
Gnip is among Twitter’s most major acquisitions since its purchase of MoPub, a mobile advertising exchange, in September for $350 million in stock. It recently purchased Cover, an Android lockscreen app, and SecondSync, and Mesagraph.
Gnip adds to some of Twitter’s other analytics acquisitions including social TV firm Bluefin Labs and real-time data company Locomatix.
The move to buy Gnip, as well as some of its other acquisitions, shows Twitter’s interest in expanding its business.
“They’re buying up the pieces of their ecosystem that are either close to the customer or close to their revenue. Gnip is both,” said Will McInnes, CMO of Brandwatch, which is a customer of both Gnip and Twitter.
“Social data is the new oil. This is where really valuable insights can be derived and derived really quickly. When you think about what’s valuable about Twitter this has to be one of the top three assets they have,” he added.
Though Twitter makes most of its money via advertising, data licensing accounted for $23 million — about 9.5% of the companies revenues in Twitter’s fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2013. That figure was up 80% year-over-year, the company reported.
Companies use the data to make decisions about marketing. For instance, Dick’s Sporting Goods last year tapped Twitter’s firehouse to discover why some customers were coming into stores and not buying anything. Businesses also use the data to decide where to put new factories and evaluate consumers’ moods.
With Twitter acquiring a popular analytics company, there is some question over whether it will continue to provide its data to other firms that could now be seen as competitors. The CEO of DataSift told TechCrunch that his company has a long-term deal with Twitter and that the Gnip acquisition would not change anything.
McInnes said time will tell on Twitter’s relationship with other analytics firms.
“It will be interesting also to see how Twitter proceeds with other partners that have this kind of relationship with them,” he said. “Now that they’ve bought one, the question is: what happens to the others?”