Why Twitter Bought Posterous: Talent And Apple

Why exactly did Twitter purchase microblogging/sharing site Posterous? It’s a talent grab, yes, but one that may have a very definite goal: Making Twitter and Apple the very best of social friends.



Yesterday Twitter revealed it bought Posterous, a lifeblogging/microblogging/sharing site. It’s been widely regarded as a “hacquisition” because Posterous’ metier isn’t totally compatible with Twitter’s own business model–at least as it stands, with its hugely time-sensitive and text-centric user experience. So who are these folks, and why did Twitter spend an undisclosed amount (certainly many millions, given Posterous’ successes and big-number VC rounds) to buy them?

Digging through the Posterous team info, there are many talented people in this small group, but three stand out in particular, including CEO and founder Sachin Agarwal. If our suspicions for the future of Twitter are right, the Posterous hacquisition is vital to seamlessly zipping Twitter deeply into Apple‘s iOS… and possibly its desktop experience, too.

Sachin Agarwal

What he does now:Product manager” at Twitter.

What he did before: Founder and CEO at Posterous. BS in Computer Science from Stanford. Worked at Apple for nearly six years, reaching “senior software engineer.” Designed and built the playback system for Final Cut Pro and added real-time effects support. At Posterous he ran product development, engineering, and operations for the first two years, and also helped earn $10 million in venture cash. Diversely talented.

What he’s like: In 2008 his blog notes he ended his partying/working life in New York, met his girlfriend and moved to California. He loves blogging and photography, and Posterous was built because of his frustrations with current blogging tools. This tech-educated chap is no reclusive nerd–in a Technorati interview just this February, he’s evidently smart, agile-minded, and affable.


Why Twitter wants him: Sachin is an all-rounder, and admits to still loving coding as a CEO. He loves photos, the iPhone, and his work at Apple was all about video. There’s a couple of hints in his post announcing the acquisition–“Apple and Twitter have a lot in common: a great sense of product and design, amazing leadership, phenomenal growth, and a great culture.” Then there’s the kicker: “It’s fitting to be going to the only company Apple chooses to integrate deeply with. Apple has definitely picked a side in social networking, and it’s Twitter.” Did Twitter hire Sachin thanks to his expertise in sharing everything from video to microblogs to photos, Posterous’ mobile chops? Is it to sew more tightly to Apple?

Brian Frank

What he does now: Mobile Partnership Product Manager at Twitter, “working with OEMs, Operators & Platform providers to build high-quality Twitter experiences.” OEMs and platform providers, eh? Interesting…

What he did before: Chief Product Officer at Posterous, which, he notes on LinkedIn, covered everything from tweaking current features to planning next-gen products to collaboratiing with the engineering and UX teams, to improving business prospects and running user analytics. He’s got two BAs from Cornell, one in Computer Science, the other in Science and Tech studies, and he’s worked at Adobe, Intel, Microsoft, and Palm, among others and founded LiveColony, a location-based service.

What he’s like: He describes himself as an experienced Product Manager, an entrepreneur, a human-computer interaction specialist, and his recommendations on LinkedIn suggest he’s a “*machine* of execution” and “passionate.” But his About Me page supplies a human side of “gourmet cooking, dining out, producing a boutique wine.”

Why Twitter wants him: That passion and expertise at a huge list of Fortune 500 companies is gold all by itself. As he suggests he’s working on integrating Twitter into the work of OEMs and platform providers (and remembering his human-computer interface expertise) we may speculate he’s also working with Twitter on the Apple integration. Among other providers, of course.


Adam Huda

What he does now: iOS Engineer at Twitter. Suddenly everything makes sense.

What he did before: Director of mobile engineering at Posterous, a key role given the sites serious mobile bent–and notably he led the iOS developer team and the Android team. Before that he was CEO at uApp, a system that lets “almost anyone build and manage mobile apps for their brand or identity.” Other roles preceeded these, but he was also responsible for the iPhone iOS 2.0 build system, OS X 10.5 Leopard build system, and worked on core internal Apple systems while an intern. Has an MS and BS in Computer Science from University of California, Santa Barbara.

What he’s like: He says his interests are design, technology, and science…and his homepage squares with this, including a couple of original abstract paintings he’s made. 

Why Twitter wants him: It’s pretty obvious…he worked at Apple, was responsible for some seriously key bits of software engineering in core Apple code for OS X and iOS. This is all about syncing Twitter more deeply into Apple’s iPhone and iPad experience quickly and powerfully.

[Image: Flickr user Daniel Garcia Neto]


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I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)