Cannes Lions: Talkin' the Twitter Biz-nass


Biz Stone's Twitter talk this afternoon was met with a full auditorium, people clamoring for places to park cameras and laptops so they could livetweet questions in real time.

Kind of a neat format. Stone addressed questions as they appeared under hashtag #hkcannes, the results of which were projected onto a screen. Two problems with this method:

1) Wifi outside the press room isn't accessible for free, meaning those that livetweeted from inside the room were either paying for use or mobiling it up. Questions were never taken directly from audience members, raising their hands, for example.

2) Questions were still for the most part selected by a Hill & Knowlton rep. I'm pretty sure the Oracle of Delphi had a less formidable filtering system.

Stone talked a bit about Twitter's birth, which I'm sure will become the stuff of online legend, so I don't really need to go into it. (Hey look, here it is.) One point of interest: his partner, Jack Dorsey, conceived the idea out of a fascination with AIM status updates.

Then he told a bunch of heartrending stories about how the real-time updating system got journos out of jail in foreign countries, kept people abreast of earthquakes and wildfire locations, gave hipsters a way to convey to each other which SXSW sessions suck, etc.

The hivemind behaviour born out of these instances of Twitter adoption yields zen inspiration to Stone: he likens it to watching birds fly in formation, using instincts to drive activity that seems perfectly coordinated.

Talk was also peppered with proverbs, which appeared above us like pop philosophy at a new age seminar. My favourite is "creativity is a renewable resource" -- something that came to Stone when he was asked, once, to come up with a five-word speech.

Here are a couple of videos of the QA portion, focusing on how Twitter expects to demonstrate its long-term viability by developing a business model.

On that little "definitions" section in right-hand Twitter nav:

On monetizing Twitter:

Nothing you probably haven't already heard. Obviously there's a way to shoehorn sponsorship or premium service opportunities into a site where product/movie reviews and brand opinions are solicited and freely given as generously as on Twitter. For a meatier description on how Twitter can add an e-commerce angle to its value prop, however, check out what one of its investors recently had to say.

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