Le Web3: Evan Williams of Twitter

Evan Williams speaking at LeWeb in 2007

Liveblog from LeWeb3 in 2007.

Lots of mini-keynotes today. Evan Williams, late of Blogger and now dark lord of Twitter just gave one. and, surprise, surprise, it looks like the majority of people here use Twitter.

Ev had a very simple message, or if you like, a message of simplicity. Twitter was born of keeping it simple – they developed for SMS because it was simpler. It helped keep the web interface simple. And, interestingly, most people now use the the web interface – but starting with SMS forced them to keep it simple. There’s so little to think about with that simple interface that it encourages frequent use. (One might say obsessive use…)

“What can you create by taking things away?” asked Ev.

Examples:

  • Fotolog – one pic a day – more comments. 11 comments per photo – like crack for web users. Much more addictive than uploading multiple photos..
  • Google – simplified Yahoo?

Plenty of questions from the floor:

What can Twitter do to stop people using Twitter like IRC? This is “spoiling” Twitter, as the questioner put it. Ev more or less dodged the question, suggesting that people made up the @reply syntax to give them a feature they wanted that Twitter lacked. He would like to provide more control over what you do and don’t get over SMS.

“Feature not a product” – Feedburner “what the heck – it’s a feature” – pull out feature and make a business.

Another guy asked if Loïc and Ev would be partners or competitors with Seesmic and Twitter? There was some evident discomfort from the pair, but the settled on the idea that they are taking a different route, one with video and one with text. “Your status in Facebook is closer to what we do with Twitter,” said Ev. “But people use it differently.”

Mike Butcher of TechCrunch UK asked about how they would monetise Twitter, after the restriction on UK and Europe SMSes received per day. And again, Ev more-or-less dodged the question by denying the idea that they intended to insert ads in the Twitter stream and suggesting that they would do deals with carriers to reduce SMS cost.