Twitter’s ongoing, long-term efforts to make conversations simpler to observe and have interaction with on its platform is getting a lift with the corporate’s newest acquihire. The corporate has picked up the group behind Lightwell, a startup that had constructed a set of developer instruments to construct interactive, narrative apps, for an undisclosed sum. Lightwell’s founder and CEO, Suzanne Xie, is changing into a director of product main Twitter’s Conversations initiative, with the remainder of her small four-person group becoming a member of her on the conversations venture.
(Sidenote: Sara Haider, who had been main the cost on rethinking the design of Conversations on Twitter, most just lately by the discharge of twttr, Twitter’s newish prototyping app, introduced that she could be shifting on to a brand new venture on the firm after a brief break. I perceive twttr will proceed for use to brazenly take a look at dialog tweaks and different potential adjustments to how the app works. )
The Lightwell/Twitter information was introduced late yesterday each by Lightwell itself and Twitter’s VP of product Keith Coleman. A Twitter spokesperson additionally confirmed the deal to TechCrunch in a brief assertion right now: “We’re excited to welcome Suzanne and her group to Twitter to assist drive ahead the vital work we’re doing to serve the general public dialog,” he mentioned. Curiously, Twitter is on a product hiring push it appears. Different current hires Coleman famous had been Different current product hires embody Angela Clever and Tom Hauburger. Coincidentally, each joined from autonomous corporations, respectively Waymo and Voyage.
To be clear, that is extra acqui-hire than rent: solely the Lightwell group (of what seems like three folks) is becoming a member of Twitter. The Lightwell product will not be developed, however it isn’t going away, both. Xie famous in a separate Medium put up that apps which have already been constructed (or plan to be constructed) on the platform will proceed to work. It would additionally now be free to make use of.
Lightwell initially began life in 2012 as Hullabalu, as one of many many corporations producing original-content interactive youngsters’s tales for smartphones and tablets. In a sea of children-focused storybook apps, Hullabalu’s tales stood out not simply due to the distinctive forged of characters that the startup had created, however for the way the narratives had been offered: half ebook, half interactive recreation, the tales engaged youngsters and moved narratives alongside by getting the customers to the touch and drag components throughout the display.
After some years, Hullabalu noticed a possibility to package deal its expertise and make it obtainable as a platform for all builders, for use not simply by different creators of kids’s content material, however advertisers and extra. It appears the corporate shifted at the moment to make Lightwell its primary focus.
The Hullabalu apps remained reside on the App Retailer, even when the corporate moved on to concentrate on Lightwell. Nonetheless, they hadn’t been up to date in two years’ time. Xie says they’ll stay as is.
In its startup life, the corporate went by YCombinator, TechStars, and picked up some $6.5 million in funding (per Crunchbase), from buyers that included Joanne Wilson, SV Angel, Vayner, Spark Labs, Nice Oak, Scout Ventures and extra.
If turning Hullabalu into Lightwell was a pivot, then the exit to Twitter may be thought-about one more attention-grabbing shift in how expertise and experience optimized for one finish may be repurposed to satisfy one other.
One among Twitter’s greatest challenges through the years has been making an attempt to create a strategy to make conversations (additionally narratives of a form) simple to observe — each for individuals who are energy customers, and for individuals who will not be and may in any other case simply be postpone from utilizing the product.
The crux of the issue has been that Twitter’s DNA is about real-time rivers of chatter that move in a single single feed, whereas conversations by their nature linger round a selected subject and change into exhausting to observe when there are too many individuals speaking. Attempting to construct a strategy to match the 2 ideas collectively has foxed the corporate for a very long time now.
At its greatest, bringing in a brand new group from the skin will doubtlessly give Twitter a contemporary perspective on how you can method conversations on the platform, and the truth that Lightwell has been enthusiastic about artistic methods to current narratives offers them some cred as a gaggle that may come up utterly new ideas for presenting conversations.
At a time when it appears that evidently the dialog round Conversations had considerably stagnated, it’s good to see a brand new chapter opening up.