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April 16, 2014

Twitter Looks to Leverage Social Data with Gnip Deal

George Leopold

Social media behemoth Twitter said it is acquiring long-time data partner Gnip in a move designed to leverage aggregated Twitter data to pinpoint consumer trends and link with customers.

In announcing the deal April 15, Twitter said Gnip, based in Boulder, Colo., “has played a crucial role in collecting and digesting our public data.” The deal would allow Twitter “to make our data more accessible” to potential customers, the company said in a blog post.

Gnip CEO Chris Moody said in a separate blog post that the partners would be “able to support a broader set of use cases across a diverse set of users including brands, universities, agencies and developers.”

The sheer quantity of social data the partners could crunch is enormous. Twitter estimates its social media platform delivers more than 500 million tweets a day. With the acquisition, Twitter said it would extend its data platform through Gnip and its existing public application programming interfaces.

Twitter did not release details of the acquisition.

Gnip has also worked as a data partner with other social media giants like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. It specializes in analyzing data from social media feeds to extract information that could be used to generate new revenues. It reportedly has access to public information on sites like Facebook and full access to social data on other sites such as Tumblr and WordPress.

“We will continue making our data available to Gnip’s growing customer base,” blogged Twitter’s Jana Messerschmidt, vice president of global business development and platforms.

Founded in 2008, Gnip partnered with Twitter four years ago to help clients analyze data gleaned from public tweets. Gnip claims to have delivered 2.3 trillion tweets since 2010 to customers in 42 countries. The data is used for business intelligence, marketing, finance and public relations.

Twitter’s acquisition of Gnip “signals clear recognition that investments in social data are healthier than ever,” Moody claimed.

Indeed, social media and Web companies have lately been on a buying spree, snapping up competitors and data sources extending all the way to Google’s acquisition of a drone company.

Deep-pocketed social media companies are likely to make more investments like the Twitter-Gnip deal as they place greater emphasis on data analytics. These services could generate additional revenue streams as more clients seek structured data about consumer behavior and preferences.

Twitter and Gnip both said they plan on launching new data products but stopped short of providing details.

The deal also underscores that social media companies that generate plenty of market buzz but have little to show little in the way of profits are maturing. The acquisition illustrates that Twitter has come to the realization that the social data it sweeps up each day can help it boost revenues and finally turn a profit.

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