Dev platforms are all about trust, and Twitter has lost it • TechCrunch
Twitter is where the world shares its opinions and aspirations; it’s where brands, celebrities and politicians interact with people, live and in broad daylight.
From 2006 to 2012, Twitter’s public API was free to everyone, which developers took advantage of to create a wide range of value-added services (like TweetDeck) for the growing community. But after 2012, Twitter severely restricted access to data, eroding developer trust. To help reverse this trend and allow the developer community to flourish, Twitter acquired my startup, Reshuffle, in May 2021.
After the acquisition, Jack Dorsey and Bruce Falk (former CEOs and GMs of Revenue Products, respectively) tasked me with reopening the Twitter API. This came after I gave harsh feedback as an external developer in a public forum to Twitter management about the failure of the development platform and the investment needed to fix it.
I told them that with the proper attention, we could create a fun and successful platform that would give developers the tools and APIs they needed to thrive and improve the Twitter user experience. Paraphrasing Ned Segal, then CFO of Twitter: “Amir told us how bad it was, so we bought his company to fix it.”
My startup and I have joined an incredible small team working to relaunch the Twitter development platform. In addition to ensuring developers had a growing suite of API endpoints to help them build effective solutions, the team was also migrating the old API to a new GraphQL-based framework. On November 15, 2021, we officially launched the new Twitter API V2, which got a lot of love and excitement from developers.
But our ambition was bigger than that.
Dorsey and the board funded us even more (gave us permission to hire 50 more people) to build something much bigger – something they had wanted to build for a long time. The vision was to make Twitter a true development platform. We wanted developers to create applications on Twitter that interact with users.
We imagined a world where you could share your favorite Spotify song and listen to it live with all your Twitter followers. We wanted you to be able to share your donation to your favorite cause and encourage your followers to donate too through an integrated GoFundMe-style experience. We wanted you to play Wordle in Twitter, not just share the results. We wanted you to be able to interact with apps developed by developers within the Twitter user experience.
This was just the beginning: we also considered a true decentralization of the Twitter timeline. We wanted to let developers create and share their own timelines.
We were excited and eager to announce our vision to the Chirp developers last month, and now that vision is just an opening document, lost on my bricked Twitter computer.
Interested in technology? Here’s the timeline curated by TechCrunch. Interested in video games? Here’s Twitch’s game and streamer timeline. Custom timelines were the superhero evolution of Twitter Lists, giving developers advanced powers to organize and create their favorite topics, or do so on behalf of other people.
The next part of our plan was to create a discovery mechanism, something like a store to discover and install these apps and timelines. We’ve even started exploring the possibility of letting developers monetize these experiences.
A year ago, we started to launch experiments around all these experiences.
We launched the tiles experience, which was the first step towards applications:
We launched the timeline experience, the first step towards open and personalized timelines:
Twitter launched the Toolkit, our first discovery experience:
We managed all of this during the roller coaster of the Twitter acquisition period. We (wrongly) thought Elon would spend time understanding the range of projects within Twitter and their impact on the public conversation. We thought the development platform was a crucial part of his outspoken vision of a “complete app.” We were excited to present our vision to him, hoping that he would be enthusiastic about our vision.
And then, on November 4, we were fired. Our work computers were blocked in the middle of the night and emails appeared in our personal accounts informing us that we had been made redundant.
According to one of our engineers’ public tweets, two people remain outside of our 100+ person organization. All of our developer dreams and plans have been crushed to dust.
When I joined Twitter, I said to Dorsey, “We can’t mess it up. We can only settle the relationship between the developers and Twitter once. If we miss this chance, I will never hire a developer who trusts our platform again. »
This is because when developers start building on a platform, they are betting that it will continue to exist with a high degree of stability. It’s a lot of work to build on a platform, and developers have been burned in the past by unsuccessful platforms like Windows Mobile, and unreliable platforms like some Facebook APIs.
I’ve worked on some of the best platforms – from Android and Sharepoint to Twitch and Slack – and they all have one thing in common: openness and trust.
Last month, we broke that trust, and I’m sorry I couldn’t prevent that from happening. I wake up in the middle of the night still thinking about it. We were excited and eager to announce our vision to the Chirp developers last month, and now that vision is just an opening document, lost on my bricked Twitter computer.
A developer once asked me how we could ensure that Twitter would continue to nurture and invest in this development platform. My response was, “As long as we have this amazing team, our leadership building the platform, the developers will see that we’re serious about this, and I’ll let you know when that changes.”
Let this be my personal advice to the developers of Twitter: the team is gone, the investment has been cancelled. Love no longer lives here.
The team that built the Twitter development platform is incredible. They will build awesome platforms for developers and other development tools in other companies. I am honored to have worked with each of them.
As for me, as I move forward and move into the world of venture capital, I intend to invest in impactful development platforms – those that are committed to being open and trustworthy.