Twitter is about to experience one of the biggest events in its history. The company's going public, in case you haven't heard, and if recent estimates are any guide, it could be worth up to $14 billion. But the size of Twitter's initial public offering belies its humble beginnings.
Way back in 2006, Twttr — which at that point had yet to add any vowels to its name — had to brave Silicon Valley's scorn before it gained any traction.
Techcrunch had this to say about Odeo, Twitter's parent company at the time:
If this was a new startup, a one or two person shop, I’d give it a thumbs up for innovation and good execution on a simple but viral idea.
But the fact that this is coming from Odeo makes me wonder – what is this company doing to make their core offering compelling? How do their shareholders feel about side projects like Twttr when their primary product line is, besides the excellent design, a total snoozer?
A few months later, Michael Arrington added that he thought Odeo suffered from a kind of attention-deficit disorder and that after axing a few of its other start-ups, Odeo ought to consider making Twitter "the next to go."
Robert Scoble, the tech enthusiast with a reputation for seizing on new, exciting things no matter how silly it makes him look, admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle's Dan Fost in 2007 that he'd been approached by tons of people who hated the service.
"Another risk for Twitter is the chance that it flames out," the Chronicle story read. "In a post, Chris Messina of South Park's Citizen Agency, asked, 'After SXSW, will Twitter become the new popup?'"
Concerns about where Twitter's headed with advertising is what's preoccupying the media today. But looking back, these insta-judgements are a reminder that it's actually really hard to predict what's going to be successful on the Web.