An exclusive with… Iain Dodsworth, CEO of Tweetdeck

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Tell us about yourself, what were you doing before founding Tweetdeck and how it came about…

I used to be a contract developer in the City for different banks. I started as a developer then began working to interpret and garner meaning from financial data. My contract came to an end and I had some time to play around with Twitter. I saw the value straight away, but found quite quickly that I was being inundated with feeds after a couple of months. It struck me that there was a dashboard there and it also made me think about the value of data. Originally Tweetdeck was only intended from my own personal use as a way to resolve that issue.  I started thinking about creating something with columns and group and slowly the concept came together.  I then gave it to ten friends in a similar situation to see what they thought.  Bizarrely emails began flooding in, largely from early adopters in the tech space.  It was mind blowing how much people liked this dashboard I had created for my own use.  Even now I cannot believe that we have set the precedent for social media applications being black.  It then all started getting very exciting….

What does Tweetdeck do? Why would I use it over any other desktop application, or instead of directly logging on to Twitter via the web?

Tweetdeck effectively makes sense of social networks. It allows social networks and services to be more meaningful and manageable for users.  The interesting thing about all of these networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Buzz and Twitter is actually the intersection of these services.  The intersection is greater than the parts and that is the beauty of Tweetdeck – it allows us to interact with them all but in a more value added and relevant way.

How do you monetise Tweetdeck? How do you plan to grow?

We get revenue already from certain services like photo uploading and URL shortening services, though this isn’t necessarily scalable.

We are currently exploring a number of potential revenue streams; we are exploring ideas around promoted tweets and trends on Twitter and looking at advertising models with platforms like Buzz. However, I don’t think there is necessarily a silver bullet.

Tweetdeck is highly functional and very efficient at what is does. We have aimed it primarily at social media ‘power users’ and as a result we have been growing organically as those who join Twitter graduate from newbies to power users.

What made you decide to take funding?

We have taken funding from ProFounders, Danny Rimer, Betaworks and TAG. The reason behind taking the funding was less about just the money and more a question of ‘what can the investors bring other than money?’.  The seed round investors gave me numerous ideas and really helped to hammer home elements of the strategy.

At the moment what do you think is the most challenging aspect of creating a successful business in your area of the market?

Getting traction.  We’re seeing lots of great ideas getting no traction whatsoever.  Now it is harder.  It feels like a more mature marketplace.  It is a timing thing –the Facebook ecosystem is becoming more developed.

How big is your team currently and what has been your hiring strategy to date?

We now have a team of fifteen spread across London, New York and a small village in France. The headquarters are London.  Up until now we have hired from within our own networks and have generally favoured bringing in people with their own networks also.

Outside of your own market, what do you think is the hottest emerging trend or technology right now?

Coupon based services are extremely impressive right now. The social-dynamic behind group buying services is fascinating. I keep reading about the success of businesses like Gilt and Groupon generate revenue and doing it without advertising. The model is stunningly simple and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

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