Aug 24, 2009

Twitter's Celebrity Suck Up [Shut Up, Twitter]

Earlier this year, Twitter internally referred to Sean "Diddy" Combs and its other celebrity clients as a "distractionary element." When that swipe leaked, via a hacker, the microblogging startup went into full-on pander mode.

That Twitter would describe Hollywood royalty as a "distraction" just shows the enormous cultural gap between the San Francisco startup and its associates in Southern California, where such a broad putdown of celebrities would be unthinkable at a company meeting. Notes obtained by TechCrunch show Twitter staff even called Diddy "not so strategic... Diddy values his contribution higher than we do... [Let's] get a group of people rather than concentrate on Diddy."

But Twitter co-founder Biz Stone is now spinning the incident like a veteran Tinseltown flack, declaring in an interview with VentureBeat's Kim-Mai Cutler, "we were super impressed with how savvy [Combs] was... He has stayed relevant for so long, and how does he do it? He's constantly reinventing himself." Stone himself has staged something of a reinvention, calling up celebrities to apologize and to "tell them that these notes didn't reflect anything." Apparently Hollywood was a bit more strategic than geeky Twitter wanted to admit, and Stone will probably have to spend months groveling like this as a result.

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