This is 2014. September of 2014. Twitter was founded in March of 2006, so for over eight years the company has been caught up in a destructive love/hate relationship with private (‘direct’) messaging. At one time the company was actually considering the end of private messaging.
However, the rise of tools like SnapChat, Hangouts, WhatsApp, and WeChat has shown that private messaging is a huge business on the consumer side. And in business, work chat tools like Slack, HipChat, and Flowdock are growing considerable userbases very quickly.
So, Why hasn’t Twitter already released group private messaging? They’ve been talking about it for years.
Twitter’s new CFO, Anthony Noto, added his voice to the discussion about group private messaging, but didn’t say it was imminent:
The CFO also hinted that group chats might be in the pipeline. Direct messaging, Twitter’s private chat function, has traditionally been put on the backburner. Because Twitter’s service is public in nature, the role of private messaging has always been a subject of debate within the company. Over the last year, amid the explosion of messaging apps, Twitter has given direct messaging a more prominent role. Noto suggested direct messaging might become more social.
Today, users can only send a direct message to one account at a time. But if, say, Noto tweeted about a football game and a couple of his “college buddies” replied to it, “I’m not sure I want to have (that) conversation in front of my boss and the rest of the 271 global users. I might want to take that to a private setting which you can do through direct messaging. Today you can only do that one to one as opposed to one to many. So that’s an example of innovation around sharing or expression that we can pursue over time.”
This only reinforces the fact that Twitter continues to miss the huge opportunity for group messaging, even while struggling for more uptake and revenue growth.
Inserting random favorites in my timeline is small potatoes compared to group messaging, so why can’t they focus on big initiatives?