Microblogging service Twitter may be brewing a pay-to-Tweet model for businesses using it to promote wares or connect with consumers.
Twitter enables users to publish "microblogs" of up to 140 characters apiece. Last month it ranked among the fastest-growing social networks — racking up 343% growth year over year. It received between $1 million and $5 million in VC funding late last year, buttressed by an investment from Amazon's Jeff Bezos last summer.
Among other options, Twitter is considering charging companies that use it for consumer feedback purposes. Such firms include Zappos, Comcast, Starbucks, GoDaddy and Amazon. It may also begin placing ads alongside search engine results.
Such decisions are being volleyed about as venture capitalists increasingly shy away from tech startups. "The VCs have the money, but they'll just negotiate harder," said CEO Evan Williams. "I want to manage things so I don't have to raise money in 2009."
Last week Twitter surpassed one billion published tweets. The two-year-old service is popular among marketers, social media evangelists, PR folk and techies, but has so far failed to monetize its business model.
Over the summer a firm called Yammer, which seized upon Twitter's model and adapted it to companies seeking real-time intra-office communications, received $50,000 in funding from the TechCrunch50. The offering is subscription-based.