Twitter Me This: TweetDeck Secures Angel Funding

TweetDeck, an increasingly popular tool for accessing the Twitter service from your desktop, is close to securing a round of angel funding to the tune of nearly $500,000 from seed funding house Betaworks, reports MediaMemo.

Update: funding has been confirmed. Amount is just south of $500,000, and comes not only from Betaworks but also from The Accelerator Group, Skype veteran Taavet Hinrikus, Gerry Campbell, Howard Lindzon and Roger Ehrenberg.

Update 2: peHUB confirms today (3/28) that the exact amount was $300,000.

TweetDeck is the work of one man, British programmer Iain Dodsworth, who says the TweetDeck Adobe AIR-powered and hence cross-platform desktop application has been downloaded 250,000 times since he launched it over last Summer, and that users are pushing 120,000 messages a day to their Twitter followers using the software.

For BetaWorks, this would be the fourth Twitter-related seed investment, after Summize (acquired by Twitter in July 2008), TipJoy and StockTwits.

I’m still a Twhirl fan, but TweetDeck – currently in public beta – does have some rather useful features that make it easier to manage your stream, especially if you’re following a lot of people actively. The app enables users to split their main feed into topic or group specific columns, thus allowing a broader overview of tweets. It’s mainly the UI that convinces users to switch to using TweetDeck instead of the many other services that are available. Dodsworth hopes to convince power users and companies to pay up for a pro version of the software at some point.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a whole ecosystem is being built around the Twitter service thanks to its free, open API approach and increasing base of micro-message spouting users, and it’s this slew of applications (here’s 5 good ways to keep track of Twitter apps) that makes Twitter even more valuable that it would be on its own, even if they haven’t gotten around to introducing whatever business model they have in store for monetizing the service (even though they’re starting to actually hire people for that).

The question is: what will happen if Twitter decides to license the use of its constant data stream, and how sticky are Twitter applications when any developer basically has the same resources to build something better than the fashion of the day?

What’s the incentive for people to keep using tools like TweetDeck, AlertThingy, Twhirl, My Social 24×7 or Twitterific, when they’re not paying for the service and the community exists elsewhere anyhow?