CurrentTV: "We're Profitable", Twitter: "We're Not"

-Evan Williams at Web 2.0 Summit-Sporting the standard geek suit (jeans, blazer, black shoes, and collar shirt) Evan Williams, CEO of Twiter, told Ken Auletta of the New Yorker, that he doesn’t think making money is that big of a dilemma. In response to a question about how Twitter plans on making money he said, “Ummm”, followed by silence and laughter in the crowd. He continued, “I don’t think it’s that big of a dilemma.”

Later in the conversation, Evan made suggestions of what their future business model would be. “Our revenue is not advertising per say, Twitter’s model is very different. Our system is entirely opt-in.” He continued to state that if users want commercial content, they’ll opt-in for it, if they don’t, they won’t. We can provide a very valuable communication channel for these groups and charge for it.

Evan Williams statements provided a stark contrast to Joel Hyatt, CEO of Current TV, who proclaimed, “We’re profitable.” Hyatt stated that the company has been operating profitably on an EBITDA basis since their first year of operations. They have a traditional business model in which revenue is generated from cable company licensing fees and advertising fees.

There are user-generated advertisements that are being created for CurrentTV and most advertisers prefer these ads over agency created advertisements. The discussion eventually turned to the transformation of media but what struck me the most was the contrast between the two companies: one a revenue-less startup and the other a rapidly growing (and profitable) media company.

There has been a never-ending discussion about Twitter’s revenue model and it increasingly clear that the company plans on providing a premium version for corporate clients. While it has been rumored to be rolled out next year, Evan Williams provided no guidance. For now, speculators will have to wait and see what the company comes up with.

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