As Twitter continues to woo developers back to its platform, the company today announced the return of its developer conference, Chirp. The event was first held in 2010 but was then canceled the very next year, leading some Twitter developers to host their own event in the wake of Twitter’s abandonment. At the time, the event had been a reflection of Twitter’s attitude toward its developer community in general — disorganized and constantly in flux as the company’s business initiatives changed.
In subsequent years, Twitter burned developers even more by pulling the rug from under the feet of those building third-party Twitter clients. It then shafted its own partners who had agreements to resell Twitter’s firehose data — the unfiltered, full stream of tweets and their metadata — after Twitter’s 2014 acquisition of the partners’ competitor Gnip.
Twitter today has acknowledged these past missteps and admitted it needs to rebuild its relationship with the developer community.
“I think we need to earn trust. And I think we need to be transparent. I think we need to build in the open,” Amir Shevat, Twitter’s head of Product for its developer platform, told TechCrunch in April. Shevat had been speaking to us about the Twitter Toolbox — a new offering that gave third-party developers a chance to be discovered and acquire users directly from Twitter’s platform itself.
The upcoming Chirp conference will be held in-person in San Francisco and will livestream online. Registration will be open soon, via Twitter’s Developer website.
The company said the new event will include a keynote, technical sessions and opportunities to meet the Twitter Developer Platform team to get developers’ questions answered. Community Meetup groups will host regional events following Chirp. In a Twitter Space, the company also announced a developer challenge with prizes valued at over $520,000.
“At Twitter, we are committed to building ways for developers to improve the Twitter experience, driving community connections, inspiring conversations and empowering developers to make a difference,” Twitter’s announcement penned by director of Marketing Amy Udelson read. “As part of this, we are announcing a number of initiatives, including the return of the Chirp Developer Conference, which enables developers to connect with our team and others in the community in real life and online; the launch of the Chirp Developer Challenge to inspire and reward innovation; and updates to our developer website to help the community continue to grow with our platform,”
The news of the event’s return follows a series of ongoing changes to Twitter’s API platform, culminating in the launch of the Twitter API v2 in 2020, a fully rebuilt version of Twitter’s foundation designed to include a number of new features that had been missing from the older API — like conversation threading, poll results in tweets, pinned tweets, spam filtering and more powerful stream filtering and search query language, among other things. The company has continued to develop the API in the years since, adding support for Twitter’s newer features like Twitter Spaces, Super Follow conversation controls, polls and other features.
Related to its changes, Twitter rolled out new pricing tiers that aimed to make it easier for different types of developers, small and large, to get started with the platform — including researchers and academics in need of larger datasets. Not all of these are yet available — Twitter’s Elevated+ access which offers more than 2 million tweets per month, for example, is still waitlisted.
But now Twitter needs to actually entice developers to use its API platform to build their apps and services, which is where such an event like Chirp could come in.
The timing of this news, however, is a bit unusual given that Twitter is still undergoing an acquisition by Telsa and SpaceX exec Elon Musk who intends to change the company’s focus and direction to be more aligned with user and revenue growth, and less with some of Twitter’s newer product experiments. It’s unclear how Musk’s ownership of Twitter will impact its developer strategy, if at all. But one would think a developer conference may have been something that would have been better to host after the dust settled on the buyout and Twitter’s new course was charted.