Startups

Tweetwall, The Twitter Display Provider Used By The Big Guys, Goes Self-Serve & Launches On iPad

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Tweetwall, a Twitter display provider for events (you know, for “tweet walls”), which has been used by customers including CNN, PayPal, Yahoo, Intel, eBay, Microsoft, the Obama campaign, Sprint, and more, is today launching a revamped version of its service. The updated version of Tweetwall has been rebuilt from the ground up, and is also accompanied by a new iPad application offering AirPlay support, designed for smaller venues.

If you’ve ever been to a conference or other event where a big-screen TV or monitor was filled with live tweets, then you may have come across Tweetwall’s technology, without realizing it. However, prior to today, the service has only been available to larger organizations who have historically paid thousands of dollars for customized versions of Tweetwall, built to their own needs.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 4.16.40 PM

Founder and CEO Joel Strellner says that his business was almost like “a consulting company,” and attracted customers who wanted their own particular designs and configurations, as well as access to the Twitter firehose (which Tweetwall has via Gnip), so tweets wouldn’t get missed if their event began trending on Twitter.

He and his team would meet with the customers beforehand to determine their needs, then create a version of Tweetwall built to their exact customizations. Though the service offers analytics on the backend, it didn’t offer full moderation – and that led to some incidents in years past, when people figured out you could hijack an event’s Twitter stream and post disruptive messages.

The new product changes that, now adding full moderation capabilities.

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“Over the last two years, we started getting the vibe that the way we were doing this isn’t the way we should be doing this,” explains Strellner. “We should be making it more of a self-service option – something people can sign up for, create a Tweetwall right away, and go with it,” he says.

The company inched in that direction starting last year, when it changed the pricing model, lowering the rate to a flat $500 per event in order to attract more of the smaller events. But even that price point was too high, given the competitive landscape containing a number of free options.

Now the new self-serve version of Tweetwall is just $49 per day, and offers a rebuilt backend with full moderation capabilities and detailed analytics. During the setup process, customers can choose from one of four layouts, all of which are highly customizable. Tweets load in faster, include images, and overall, the service runs smoother than before. Instead of the Twitter firehose, self-serve customers have access to Twitter’s direct streaming API, which Strellner says should be more than enough for smaller events.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 4.18.36 PM

Tweetwall is still an HTML5 application, meant to run on a computer connected to a big-screen monitor or TV. However, the company has also introduced an iPad app version of the service that works with Apple’s Digital AV Adapter or AirPlay, to display tweets on a TV or through a projector.

The new service was soft-launched into beta just last week, with 15 customers testing it, and today has around 40 sign-ups in advance of a formal announcement.

Since its debut back in 2008, Tweetwall has served hundreds of enterprise-sized customers, some like CNN, which would use the service year after year, paying each time for new customizations. The Providence-based startup, which raised just $165,000 in the early days some through Betaspring, has been profitable for some time. It also operates Twitter analytics service Socialping, which has around 1,000 customers and is self-sustaining, though now a revamp for it is also planned.

Going forward, the self-serve version of Tweetwall, including the iPad app, will be offered alongside the full service offering for those clients who need the advanced customizations. More info is available here, or you can download Tweetwall for iPad here on iTunes.

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