Twitter has hired Buzzwire executive Kevin Thau as its director of mobile business development with the long-term assignment of making money from wireless devices.
From Telephony Online:
Fast-growing but yet-to-monetize Web service Twitter hired its first – yes, its first – business development executive this week, tapping a telecom industry veteran for the post.
New Twitter hire Kevin Thau signs on formally as director of mobile business development, though his initial work will be to review all partnership opportunities currently in front of the startup. Longer term, he’s working on Twitter’s mobile strategy. Twitter could use some relationship-building on the mobile front; in August it was forced to shut down SMS-updating of Twitter in several countries because it was unable to negotiate favorable terms with mobile operators.
Thau moves over from Buzzwire, which helps mobile operators and content providers deliver mobile video. Earlier, he’d worked at OpenWave, an early pioneer in providing operators with messaging and mobile content tools.
In many ways, Twitter can be viewed as a second cousin to SMS – for better and worse. Like SMS, the micro-messaging service limits users to 140-character messages. Twitter adds the twist of making the messaging less one-to-one and more community-centric in nature and archiving messages to the Web. For worse, Twitter has yet to really find a way to make money (the core service is completely free) while the mobile messaging market (including SMS, MMS, mobile email and mobile IM) was worth $130 billion in 2008.
Twitter has floated the idea of some pay-per-use, premium services. But it risks losing users to other still-free services such as FriendFeed – not to mention telco-provided SMS.
In the blog post announcing the hire, Twitter said it is continuing to fill out its business suite, with open positions for business product manager and director of strategic partnerships.