Protocol: Twitter

If you don’t know about YCombinator already, they are (in their own words) “a new kind of venture firm specializing in funding early stage startups. They help startups through what is for many the hardest step, from idea to company.”    They invest in smart teams of people who have a great idea but may need some help learning how to develop that idea in to an actual business.   I like this firm.  They are doing exactly what I would love to do with my time every day. 

Anyway, it isn’t the company in particular that I wanted to highlight.  It is something that I read in their recent RFS (Request for Startup) document that really got me thinking.  Here is the text that I read from the TechCrunch blog in relation to the RFS:

RFS 3: Things Built on Twitter

Twitter is important because it’s a new protocol. Fundamentally it’s a messaging protocol where you don’t specify the recipients. It’s really more of a discovery than an invention; that square was always there in the periodic table of protocols, but no one had quite hit it squarely.

Successful new protocols are rare. There are only a handful of commonly used ones: TCP/IP (the Internet), SMTP (email), HTTP (the web), and so on. So any new protocol is a big deal. Each one of those protocols has spawned many successful companies. Twitter will too.

We want to fund those companies. And the people at Twitter also want to encourage people to built stuff on top of it. So together we came up with a plan: anyone YC funds to do a startup based on Twitter will get priority access to the Twitter stream, and to people at Twitter.

That is really interesting to think about.  Twitter isn’t just a new form of communication.  It is a completely new protocol with the potential to change a whole lot of stuff.  Start to think about that when you dismiss the idea of Twitter as a passing fad.  This isn’t just for tweens.  This is possibly a paradigm shift in the way things work on the web.

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