Bidding On A Twitter Account: Insanity or Efficient Market?

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Bidding On A Twitter Account: Insanity or Efficient Market?


It's been a mildly interesting weekend.

One of the interesting things that happened was a TechCrunch article that described Andrew Baron selling his Twitter account

It was the weekend, and I was looking for some quick amusement value, so I jumped into the auction on eBay.  Things got really interesting from there.

There's been a lot of discussion on the TC article and on Twitter itself about how crazy/wrong/idiotic this whole thing is.  Amidst all the noise, a few good points have been made.

Since I'm currently the high bidder, I figured I'd share my two cents as to why I'm bidding on a Twitter account at all (I'm not even that big of a Twitter user yet). 

If you're an OnStartups reader and like Twitter, you can follow @OnStartups.

Thoughts On Bidding For A Twitter Account

1.  I think of this as being a "digital asset" -- akin to a blog.  Like a blog, a Twitter account has a "readership/following".  Just like a blog can be a person/business/hobby/whatever, so can a Twitter account.  Based on this, I don't see anything inherently wrong with someone selling (or buying) a Twitter account.

2.  Twitter allows you to change the name of an account after it's been created.  So, I could change the account to if I wanted (which right now, is still available).  [Note:  That's not the name I'm planning to use, so if you want it, go for it].

3.  The account being sold had 1,400+ followers at the time it was listed and now has 1,600+ followers (presumably because of all the buzz around the sale).  That's interesting.  Much of the chatter on the account right now is about the sale.  If people were planning on leaving in droves, I'd expect it to start happening already.

4.  Twitter followers can easily "un-follow" an account.  So, although some have made the argument that this is somehow "wrong", the ease (and safety) of opting-out unfollowing makes me feel fine with it.  Contrast this to if a company sold your name as part of a big mailing list.  At least with Twitter, you don't need anyone else to get you off someone's follower list.  You want off, you're off.  It's that easy.

4.  I've been finding more and more interesting people on Twitter lately.  So, although I've been skeptical of it, there may end up being a there there.

So, the question is, what am I going to do with the account if I do actually win the auction?  I can't tell you yet -- but I do have some ideas (none of which are nefarious and require an evil laugh).  Stay tuned...

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Mon, Apr 14, 2008


I vote for Insanity.
This idea sounds counter to what HubSpot advocates: acquiring customers and followers by continuously publishing good content that people want. Buying a Twitter account hoping that you can sling-shot your way to the front of the line does not feel like Modern Marketing, it feels like cheating.

posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 7:29 AM by Dev

For the record, I've been running this as an experiment personally, outside of HubSpot. It's as much for learning value than it is anything else.
But, clearly, anything I do online is a reflection on HubSpot and needs to be treated as such.
Back to the issue: HubSpot does indeed advocate acquiring customers and followers by creating great content. However, this is not cheating in the same way buying an existing domain name with some type-in traffic would not be cheating.
But, your point is overall well taken. As I said, it's an experiment. Part of what I do (even at HubSpot) is try new, new things and pass the lessons on.

posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 10:51 AM by

But, to stretch that example further. If someone bought and then started just spamming people, the audience/readership evaporates. People would delete their bookmarks, remove their subscriptions -- or in this case, stop "following" if there was no value. That's the beauty of the internet. Users are in charge.

posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 4:00 PM by

Its either insanity or genius.
<P>I looked at twitter when it launched and thought "why bother?" I haven't seen reason to change my opionion.
<P>Sure I read the press and it has a silly (high) value. Doesn't change my opinion.

posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 7:15 PM by Stephen Kellett

In this nice box you've got for us to post comments can you put some indicators in the blank area to the right as to what tags work. I can't remember which tags work and clearly my previous posting's attempt to use paragraph tags failed.

posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 7:17 PM by Stephen Kellett

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