Facebook (FB) may be the biggest social network in the world, but thanks to a disastrous IPO and a tough slog for the stock since then, the hunt continues for the "Facebook killer." Eric Jackson, founder of Ironfire Capital believes that title will go to Twitter. He says they are "the real deal," adding, "this thing is gonna be much bigger than Facebook three years from now."
The exact size of Twitter's user base is in dispute. One recent study says it has 500 million users but the latest data from the company last spring put its active user number at 140 million. Either way it doesn't come close to Mark Zuckerberg's nearly one billion friends. So just how will Twitter slay the social media giant?
Jackson says Facebook's demise will all be about mobile. "They [Twitter] understood mobile before mobile was really a big deal," he says. "Facebook by contrast started as this big fat website and now they've got mobile and they gotta take that big fat website and cram it down into the small screen."
Success in mobile comes down to advertising and Jackson believes Twitter will succeed where Facebook failed. It's starting already, as he points out, because Twitter's ads get more clicks than Facebook's right now. That, he says, is because Twitter can more accurately assess the interests and passions of their users. Facebook, in contrast, is more about users sharing pictures and life events. It's what Twitter's CEO, Dick Costolo calls the "interest graph versus the social graph," and he's banking on the success of the former.
But if you're waiting for the chance to invest in Twitter, you may be waiting a very long time, if not forever. Jackson believes the little blue bird will be scooped up by another company, instead of becoming the next big social media IPO.
"It's a mistake that Apple (AAPL) hasn't bought these guys already," Jackson says. "I think Apple is the most natural buyer for them."
Interestingly, he points out that the 140 character messages Twitter has become known for may be "hugely important" to Apple's much rumored television venture.
"As we really see this sort of merging of old TV along with the web, and Twitter streams flashing across the bottom of the screen, and ads that Apple's gonna want to show to you — I think Twitter's a natural fit there."
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