Twitter has not yet officially launched commerce services — where users would be able to buy products that are advertised in tweets — but it continues to build out the infrastructure it will need to have in place for when it does. The latest development on that front is that it has hired away Philippe Dauman, Jr. from Google to lead commerce partnerships. Dauman, who had been at Google for the last six-and-a-half years, announced the news himself on Twitter and LinkedIn.
The news comes in the wake of several other developments that point to Twitter developing a platform where brands and businesses will be able to sell products and services in Twitter’s main news stream. They include reports that Twitter has talked with third parties like Stripe and PayPal to provide commerce services at the backend, key hires (chief among them Nathan Hubbard from Ticketmaster, but also others), and a leak on another e-commerce site, Fancy, that even detailed how the service might look.
Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo, when asked about commerce services in Twitter’s first-ever quarterly earnings call, didn’t deny commerce would be a part of Twitter’s roadmap, and even explained where it would sit, when addressed directly about the leaks.
Describing the Cards platform, which lets third parties, and Twitter, add rich media and widgets into the river of other accounts that a user follows, Costolo called it a “rich canvas and additional kinds of action to Twitter in which the 140 characters really becomes a caption to this much richer card that carries with it interactivity and actions.” He described Cards as “the vehicle through which we think about commerce opportunities.”
Adding in a commerce platform will give Twitter an additional revenue source that it can gain from the “real estate” in its river. And at a time when all social networks are trying to keep their users spending ever more time on their platforms, adding more functions and features could help increase engagement among consumers, thereby attracting more advertisers — that is, if Twitter doesn’t turn users off by becoming too commercial and less informative.
For now, Twitter needs all the talent it can get to get commerce off the ground: Ironically, a look at Google and its own stumbles in the area of commerce shows just how tricky it can be to break into the space.
Dauman, the son of media heavyweight and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman (who has been leading the charge with his own company’s link-up with Twitter on social TV initiatives), will be transferring two different sets of skills that he honed while at Google, that of working on content partnerships with third parties and experience specifically in commerce (and mobile commerce at that).
His most recent job there was as “Strategic Partner Development Manager” within Google’s mobile commerce division. According to his LinkedIn description, he “helped build Google’s commerce & payments business across online, offline and mobile channels” and worked with merchants to integrate Google Commerce into their marketing and shopping services.
Before that, he worked on more general content partnerships as “Strategic Partner Development Manager.” As part of that he “led worldwide strategy and acquisition of content to power Maps, Local Search, and Web Search.”