Twitter API Traffic is 10x Twitter's Site

John Musser
Sep. 10 2007, 02:23AM EDT

In a very interesting interview with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Sean Ammirati at Read/WriteTalk asks some good questions about the role of the the Twitter API in their success and plans going forward. Two things that jumps out is that Biz's comment that the API has 10x the traffic of the website and that of all that's happened with Twitter in the past year that "the amount of activity around the API has been the most surprising experience". (Our Twitter API profile here.)

Read/WriteTalk interviews offer a handy transcription and so here are few tidbits on the API:

Biz Stone: Yeah. The API has been arguably the most important, or maybe even inarguably, the most important thing we’ve done with Twitter. It has allowed us, first of all, to keep the service very simple and create a simple API so that developers can build on top of our infrastructure and come up with ideas that are way better than our ideas, and build things like Twitterrific, which is just a beautiful elegant way to use Twitter that we wouldn’t have been able to get to, being a very small team.So, the API which has easily 10 times more traffic than the website, has been really very important to us. We’ve seen some amazing work built on top of it from tiny little mobile applications like an SMS timer that just allows you to set a reminder over SMS to call your mom or something like that, to more elaborate visual recreations of Twitter like which shows an animated map of the world and what everyone’s doing around the world with Twitter. Twitter is popping up from Spain and Japan and United States.And that’s very, sort of like, “Look at that!” It’s like staring at a fish bowl or something – an aquarium. You just find yourself getting lost in it. The API has really been a big success for us, and it’s something that we want to continue to focus our efforts on, looking forward.

Sean Ammirati: Cool. One of the things that’s interesting — and I think I know what your answer here is going to be – but I feel compelled to ask anyway. With this sort of open API being such a critical part of your success, how does that affect the business model as that develops? Biz Stone: Well, it depends on what business model we decide to pursue. We’re still very much weighing our options there, but there are definitely leading contender business models that we have mapped out where the API plays a significant role in generating just more traffic to our system. It puts us in an enviable position.So, the API becomes not only crucial for us on a creativity level and something that we can offer to the developers so that they can build their own applications and experiences, but it also becomes a way for us to grow and a way for us to potentially - depending on what business model we choose - do well there, business-wise. No matter what, we’re going to be considering the API. We’re going to be considering what folks are doing with it going forward so that it becomes part of what we are and what we do.

As VC Fred Wilson likes the sound of this and asks for more stories like this: "The API has >10x the traffic of That's a great stat and I'd like to find other companies that have that metric working for them."

We have a collection of Twitter mashups here including some highly rating ones like:

John Musser



This makes sense. Very intriguing read. This is why Facebook is missing out. Their system may appear to be 'open', but it is still a very closed system.

Open APIs lead to traffic generation and open up a service to much greater opportunities and possibilities.

Take a look at:


This illustrates how Facebook is handling the idea of being 'open'. Their API is missing the functionality that Twitter has, and has had.

Good for Twitter.

[...] ReadWriteTalk’s Sean Ammirati reported it generates 10x Twitter’s site traffic (our additional coverage here). Now the Twitter team is continuing to scale-up their service to meet demand and yesterday Allen [...]

[...] FriendFeed, the popular activity stream aggregation service have just announced their API. FriendFeed is a service that allows users to create content streams akin to the Facebook newsfeed by telling it what third-party services they use like Flickr, Twitter and Friends and family can then share and subscribe to each others feeds. Given how white hot this platform is at the moment we can expect developers to jump on this API quickly. As ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick points-out this API has lots of potential and might be as popular with developers as the Twitter API, which drives them 10x more traffic than their site does. [...]

[...] to use, easy to use in different ways and is highly extendable, for example the Twitter API carries 10 times the traffic of the visible Twitter site - this is used by 3rd party twitter user interfaces but also for systems interfaces - e.g. to feed [...]

[...] Twitter alone works well, but the smartest move was to build a powerful API for the web service. As I explained, illustrated and demonstrated in previous posts, a good web service must escape from its very own URL and start spreading all over the web (and beyond) through a powerful, reliable and secure API. Twitter has one and it works. Dozens of apps have been developped based so far: some of them enhance Twitter’s default features (like adding pictures or creating groups of Twitterers), some bring Twitter to the desktop (mainly AIR apps), some mash up Twitter’s data with anything else, etc. Twitter can now be fed from other websites, from your browser, from your mobile phone. Twitter’s API made Twitter more reachable, more flexible and dramatically increased its presence. As confirmed by Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, Twitter API traffic is 10 times Twitter’s site. [...]

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