Magpie, the first service to offer in-stream ads on Twitter, is up for sale

Two years later and Magpie, the first service to offer in-stream advertising on Twitter, is being put up for sale.

It claims to be Europe’s number one Twitter advertising network with a combined reach of almost 20 million followers and has around 5,000 registered advertisers. Major brands who have used Magpie include the likes of Sony Playstation, Microsoft Xbox, Burger King, Honda, Heineken and many more. So why do its founders want out?

It’s tempting to think that the business model simply didn’t work out. For many, in-stream ads is sailing pretty close to spam. But that isn’t the case, says Magpie co-founder and CEO Jan Schulz-Hofen. “If it didn’t work we’d just shut it down.”

Instead, Schulz-Hofen insists that it’s a case of not wanting to operate a grown up business. He says “it’s not what drives us, so we’d like to move on.” Or more specifically, the founders of Magpie never wanted to run a traditional ad-sales company and hoped that the startup could operate largely on a self-serve ad basis. This obviously didn’t happen.

“We’ve grown tired of being an advertising agency. All we wanted to do is create something great on top of Twitter’s API platform and build an advertising network that could run in self-service mode. When we ‘invented’ in-stream advertising in 2008, we had been naive enough to neglect the fact that we’d have to wrap our heads around pitching to agencies, setting up campaigns, defining media strategies, and distributing advertising budgets.”

So in that sense, it didn’t work out.

Since then of course, many other Twitter-related ad products have launched, including an official Twitter offering: Promoted Tweets.

However, for anybody interested in purchasing Magpie, there’s an official blog post explaining exactly what’s up for sale and more details on why its founders are walking away.