Google constructed a few of the first social apps for Android, together with Twitter and others


Here’s a tidbit of startup historical past that might not be broadly identified exterior of the tech companies themselves: The first variations of well-liked Android apps, like Twitter, had been constructed by Google itself. That revelation happened through a brand new podcast with Twitter’s former senior director of product administration, Sara Beykpour, now the co-founder of the AI information startup Particle.

In a podcast hosted by Lightspeed accomplice Michael Mignano, Beykpour reminisces about her position in Twitter’s historical past. She explains how she started working at Twitter in 2009, initially as a instruments engineer, when the corporate employed solely round 75 individuals. Later, Beykpour moved to work on cell at Twitter across the time when different third-party apps had been rising in reputation on different platforms, like BlackBerry and iOS. One of these, Loren Brichter’s Tweetie, was even acquired by Twitter to type the premise of its first official iOS app.

As for Twitter’s Android app, that got here from Google, Beykpour mentioned.

The Twitter for Android consumer was “a demo app that Google had created and gave to us,” she mentioned on the podcast. “They did that with all the favored social apps on the time: Foursquare … Twitter … all of them seemed the identical in these early days as a result of Google wrote all of them.”

Mignano interjected, “Wait, so again up; clarify this. So Google needed firms to undertake Android, in order that they construct you apps?”

“Yes, precisely,” Beykpour responded.

Twitter then took the Android app that Google constructed and continued to develop it. Beykpour was the second Android engineer on the firm, she mentioned.

In reality, Google had detailed its work on the Android Twitter consumer in a 2010 weblog submit, however a lot of the press protection on the time didn’t credit score the app to Google’s work, making this a forgotten little bit of web historical past. In Google’s submit, the corporate explains how they carried out early Android greatest practices inside the Twitter app. Beykpour advised TechCrunch that the submit’s creator, Virgil Dobjanschi, was the principle software program engineer.

“If we had questions, we had been purported to ask him,” she recollects.

Beykpour shared different tales about Twitter’s early days, too. For occasion, she labored on Twitter’s video app, Vine, (after returning to Twitter from a stint at Secret), and had been beneath strain to launch Vine on Android earlier than Instagram launched its video product. She met that deadline by launching Vine roughly two weeks earlier than Instagram Video, she mentioned.

The latter “considerably” affected Vine’s numbers, and, in Beykpour’s opinion, was what led to the favored app’s demise.

“That was the day the writing was on the wall,” she mentioned, although it took years to ultimately shut Vine down.

At Twitter, Beykpour led the shutdown of Vine’s product — an app nonetheless so well-liked that even new Twitter/X proprietor Elon Musk retains teasing about bringing it again. But Beykpour thinks Twitter made the fitting choice with Vine, noting the app wasn’t rising and was costly to run. She admits that others might even see it in a different way, maybe arguing that Vine was under-resourced or didn’t have management’s backing. But in the end, the closure got here right down to Vine’s influence on Twitter’s backside line.

Beykpour additionally shared an attention-grabbing anecdote about engaged on Periscope. She joined the startup proper because it was acquired by Twitter, and after leaving Secret. She remembers having to formally rejoin Twitter beneath a pretend identify to maintain the acquisition beneath wraps for a time.

At Twitter, she additionally talked concerning the problem in getting assets to develop merchandise and options for energy customers, like journalists.

“Twitter actually struggled to outline its person,” she mentioned, as a result of it “used numerous conventional OKRs and metrics.” But the very fact was that “solely a fraction of individuals tweet,” and “of the fraction of the individuals which are tweeting, a subset of these are liable for the content material that everybody truly desires to see,” was one thing that Beykpour says was tough to measure.

Now at Particle, her expertise constructing Twitter is informing technique for the AI information app, which has the objective of connecting individuals with the information they care about that is occurring round them.

“Particle is a re-imaging of the way you consumption your each day information,” Beykpour says on the podcast. The app goals to supply a multi-perspective view of stories whereas additionally offering entry to high-quality journalism. The startup is seeking to discover one other method to monetize reporting past adverts, subscriptions or micropayments. However, the specifics of how Particle will do that are nonetheless in dialogue. The startup is at the moment speaking with potential writer companions on how you can compensate them for his or her work.



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