social media

The $12.5 Billion Tweet

How much is a tweet worth?

Can a tweet actually impact a business? As CEO of IZEA I get asked these questions everyday. My job is to match companies with influential people and pay them to tweet, post and otherwise endorse their products and services through social media. It is not unusual for a celeb to get tens of thousands of dollars for a single tweet, and that can stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the A-Listers. Yes, that may sounds like a lot of money – but when you combine the right person with the right brand it can be well worth it.


Today Carl Icahn tweeted about Apple, a company that he has taken a large equity position in. He has a mere 39,957 followers, but those followers are the right followers. They are truly influenced by Icahn, not just by clicking or retweeting, but by buying. Within 100 minutes Apple stock jumped as high as $494.66, to close nearly 5% higher, at $489.57 per share – a six-month high. Icahn’s tweet added nearly $12.5 billion to Apple’s market cap. AMAZING. While the size of his stake has not been disclosed, it is safe to assume that he just made himself tens of millions of dollars.

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How much is a tweet worth? You tell me.

Disclosure : I own Apple stock.


Jeremiah Owyang’s Collaborative Economy

I first met Jeremiah Owyang back in 2005 when he was working for Hitachi Data Systems. I interviewed him for my podcast called Internet Marketing Voodoo (you didn’t know I used to be a podcaster did you?).

Those were the very early days of social media, before Twitter even existed. He and I would often see each other at conferences where we would both be speaking about the coming wave of “consumer generated media” and the impact it would have on business. Those were very exciting – yet frustrating – times as many of the C-Level execs we addressed just couldn’t see the future that was so clear to both of us.

altimeter_group_logoI recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jeremiah, now a Partner at Altimeter Group, on a trip to the bay area. We traded war stories like old veterans that served on the front line of a long, bloody battle. In many ways I felt like I was closing a chapter in my professional life. Jeremiah was the person that first broke the PayPerPost story online by sharing the launch with Mike Arrington. That post started a ethical battle about paid social media that would rage for years. It is now clear that I was on the right side of that battle – though I took many an arrow in the back for leading the way.

The Next Chapter

Jeremiah and I are both looking to the next big thing. I am working on a new product (details coming soon) and he is blazing a trail with his research on the collaborative economy. He shared his thoughts with me over breakfast and I think he is on to something huge. Many of the principles he speaks about are already baked into the product I am working on.

This is the next wave of innovation and opportunity for business, both online and offline. While it may sound a like a fad right now –  just remember that people said the same of social media. I interviewed him via email as a followup to our conversation:

Collaborative Economy

What exactly is the collaborative economy?

jeremiah_videoOur tight definition is: The Collaborative Economy is an economic model where ownership and access are shared between people, startups, and corporations. We currently see that corporations are being disrupted by the sharing revolution, and are fighting back through lobbyists or marketing. We see an opportunity for corporations to get involved, and not stand by the wayside.

(The details of this are in the research report published here. Also check out this video and this series of posts by Jeremiah)

Collaborative Economy

What inspired your research?

Over dinner, Loic Le Meur, the founder of LeWeb and serial entrepreneur leaned over and told me in his charming French accent that the next LeWeb would be about sharing, at the time he called it “digital hippies”, which he settled on the sharing economy. It took a few weeks for it to sink in, and as I probed the space, I realized that this was a major disruption to corporations as people could buy one product once, and then share many times with each other –not needed to buy again. I also saw there were many corporate business opportunities for the taking, but the idea and concept had not yet been fully baked in the market, so I did what I do best: I conducted a research project to find out what is possible –and what is not.

Your vision of the future must be met with some resistance because it challenges the status quo. What do the naysayers push back on most often and what is your response?

This reminds me of 2005-2006 when we first started to get together Ted and create social media (back then we called it something else), and we were singing the exact same song that corporations need to get on board or lose out. It feels the exact same way as I heard it eight years ago, but now, rather than sharing media, people are sharing goods and services. When I told you, I could see the same fire in your eyes light up that I saw in us 8 years ago.

How does this shift effect the small retailer running a store in my neighborhood? What can they do to adapt?

This is a great opportunity for any size business, as they can now unlock any inventory or space or services that are idle and resell on the market, or they can offer their own services on demand we call this Company as a Service. Companies can also Motivate a Marketplace of customers around them to resell or add new value to the products and goods that are being shared in their own market. For example small business ScotteVest encourages their own customers from their dot com to buy and sell used goods, bringing the community of customers closer to them.

In what ways has the collaborative economy effected you personally? What are you doing now that you didn’t do 5 years ago?

Well, for one, I let a stranger drive off in my family car using a website called RelayRide so I could generate revenues from my idle car that was sitting on the curb. The out of town college student got a car for the weekend, I got some revenues, and we both won. I also use Taskrabbit for work at the office, as well as at home, tapping into workers on demand. At Altimeter, where I’m a partner, we’re tapping into LiquidSpace to find meeting space on demand for our remote meetings and more.

Collaborative Economy

It’s key to remember, this is still part of social business. The first phase was sharing media and ideas, the second phase is about sharing goods and services.

Welcome to the Collaborative Economy.

The History of LinkedIn

Over the past decade LinkedIn has grown from a simple idea to a company with more than 200 million members worldwide. Designed for professionals, recruiters and job seekers, the site allows members and companies to build profiles and make connections, taking business contacts out of the rolodex and into the 21st century.

I am a huge fan of LinkedIn. I have used the site for recruiting, sales and even raising capital. If we aren’t connected we should be. You can find my profile here:

I thought it would be cool to take a look back and see how it all started. A brief history of LinkedIn:

2003: Reid Hoffman and Colleagues Launch the Site

Like so many other internet and technology ventures, LinkedIn began in someone’s home, more specifically, the home of Reid Hoffman. Formerly an employee of SocialNet and PayPal, Hoffman invited a team of colleagues from those companies to begin work on his project. Co-founders of LinkedIn include Allen Blue, Eric Ly, Lee Hower, Konstantin Guericke, Stephen Beitzel, David Eves, Ian McNish, Jean-Luc Vaillant, Yan Pujante and Chris Saccheri.

2004-2006: Growth, Investment and Profitability

After the launch in 2003, LinkedIn grew slowly at first, but by the following year, the site gained the attention of Sequoia Capital who invested more than 3 million dollars in the company. During these years the site introduced new features for its users, such as Address Book, Groups, LinkedIn Jobs, Business Accounts, InMail, Recommendations and People You May Know. The company also began advertising to small business owners in partnership with American Express. By 2006, LinkedIn achieved profitability

2007-2010: New Faces and New Places

After reaching profitability, LinkedIn experienced changes in leadership and a period of expansion. Replacing Reid Hoffman as CEO, Dan Nye took over the reins in 2007. The following year, LinkedIn opened their first international office in London and launched both French and Spanish language versions of the site. The company would again see a change in leadership when Dan Nye departed from the company and Jeff Weiner became the new CEO in 2009. New features during this time include LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn Recruiter.

2011: Initial Public Offering

On May 19, 2011, LinkedIn went public under the stock symbol LNKD, beginning at $45 per share. The company also opened the doors to new offices in Paris, Bangalore, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, Sao Paolo, Stockholm, Tokyo and Singapore, and added even more foreign language versions of the site. That same year, the Apply with LinkedIn feature was introduced, allowing job seekers to apply directly to companies through the site.

2012: New Visual Architecture

After the IPO, the LinkedIn website underwent a complete visual redesign, streamlining everything from the homepage to profile and company pages. The company also continued to add new language versions, bringing the total to 19 that year

2013: 10th Anniversary

As the company turns 10, it boasts an impressive 225 million members and counting, with new memberships numbers estimated at approximately 2 new members every second. Countries with strongest membership numbers include the US, India, UK, Brazil, Canada, Australia and the UAE. There are 23 products and services now available on the site, such as InMaps, Resume Builder, Sales Navigator and Talent Connect.

Facebook Bets Big on Hardware

The following is a post I originally wrote for my friends over at Socialfresh as part of there 2013 Social Media Predictions.

While Facebook may be thought of as a “social network” the reality is that this behemoth is aiming to be much, much more. Zuckerburg has been amassing a small army of engineers over the past few years, and now possesses the billions in cash it needs to compete with the biggest tech titans in the space. Facebook has a $50B+ market cap, while frenemy Google has a $200M+ market cap, Microsoft has a $200B+ market cap, and Apple enjoys a $500B+ market cap.

The common difference between Facebook and these leading companies? Hardware.

Software is great – but controlling the entire ecosystem of a hardware platform is where the really big money is.

Everyone Wants Hardware Revenue Like Apple

Microsoft can’t go back with Windows. They will forever be slaves to their hardware partners, while Apple continues to gain desktop market share. However, Microsoft learned their lesson as we saw with Xbox and more recently Surface.

Controlling the entire platform, owning the supply chain and optimizing the user experience is incredibly important. Microsoft needs to be in the hardware game in order to compete with Apple, which is the same reason that Google purchased Motorola.

Microsoft is now mocking Apple with the full set of stores (new Windows Stores), tablets, and soon will likely add their own phones (Windows Phones) and laptops into the mix.

Social Networks Are Fleeting

Let’s face it, social networks are a dime a dozen. Every day a new social network launches trying to one-up Facebook, much like Facebook one-upped MySpace.


Because two kids in a garage can easily hack together some code, launch it and see what happens for almost zero money.

Someone will eventually get it right and take on Facebook because the barrier to entry is so low. Or Facebook will drown in fragmentation.

Creating a hardware/software ecosystem is something different altogether. It is incredibly resource intensive, requires huge amounts of capital and it is very difficult to get traction.

It is why we haven’t seen a new video game console come to the mass market in so many years. It is just too hard to compete with the existing ecosystems of Xbox, Wii and Playstation. There are many game studios, but there are only three console manufacturers.

Owning Your Own Destiny

To put it in perspective – right now Facebook is merely a game playing on Apple, Google and Microsoft mobile devices. The big boys own the hardware ecosystem and the ultimate interface with the consumer. Facebook’s mobile fate is largely in their hands… much like Zynga’s fate was in Facebook’s hands.

They have to enter the hardware market and create their own ecosystem if they want to fortify their position as the leader in the social space. It is the only way to keep the scrappy little startups from constantly nipping at their heals, or avoid getting crushed by their larger rivals.

My predictions for 2013

1. Facebook Phone

We will surely see the introduction of the Facebook phone in 2013, but it won’t stop there.

2. Facebook TV

The current tech race is for the small screen in our pockets and the big screen in our homes. Television is a social experience by nature and Facebook has a unique opportunity to enhance it. A Facebook set top box would provide an entirely new way for Facebook to generate advertising revenue from brands and distribute social-enabled interactive video.

3. Facebook Payments

Supporting both of these efforts will be the introduction of a Facebook backed competitor to PayPal, Amazon Payments and Square. This new service will have hardware and software components that make it easier for consumers to pay for the items and services they discover through their social graph (and sponsored stories – of course).

It will also allow Facebook to collect incredibly valuable data about user purchases and behavior.

4. Facebook Storefront

The combination of software and propriety hardware in a controlled ecosystem would create a very defensible position for Facebook long term. The more information that Facebook has about you, the more they will be able to charge advertisers and manufacturers to reach you.

Ultimately Facebook will sell products directly to you, utilizing all of the information they have from your social graph and the purchases they process. They will compete directly with Amazon using a social-enabled recommendation engine.


There is an all out war in Silicon Valley.

The giants all want your eyeballs, your data and the cash in your wallet.

Software will only take Facebook so far.

The question is will Facebook break into the hardware market with a solution as compelling as their current service?

Sad Viking

Yesterday I keynoted lunch at BarkWorld in Atlanta. During the presentation someone asked me for the URL of my blog. Frankly I was embarrassed to provide it. This thing is a bit out of date and needs some love. I am going to switch things up a bit and try to update the site more regularly moving forward. Expect to see a combination of long form content, photos and other things that make me happy.

Twitter Birthday Cake

Earlier this year I posted a downloadable Twitter T-Shirt design on this blog. Variations of the design have popped up all over the place, including shirts from Shaw Collins, Laurie Pooh and Naoma Doriguzzi. It’s been awesome to see people using the file I provided, it took off way more than I expected. I thought I had seen it all, but this use of the design really “takes the cake”.


Happy birthday to Michael Brito! I wish I could have made the party buddy : )

Paging Dr. Hypocrite

Earlier today Pete Cashmore from Mashable did a post called “Twitter Ads are Evil”. The root of Pete’s argument is that paid endorsements destroy trust. While I personally like Pete I have to say he is completely off base on this one. Paid endorsements are a multi-billion dollar industry that includes the worlds biggest brands and celebrities. Matching the right brand with the right individual can create huge value for both parties and actually increase the trust amongst consumers and fans.

You trust Michael Jordan. You trust Gatorade. You trust Michael Jordan drinking Gatorade. You want to “Be Like Mike” and drink Gatorade. You know that money is changing hands but it doesn’t matter because the message is right and the product matches the endorser. Paid endorsements work in both mainstream media and traditional media. Don’t believe me? Ask Cali Lewis and Drobo or Robert Scoble and RackSpace.

Mashable Does Sponsored Tweets and Posts

We can argue about trust until the cows come home but that is not my real issue with this post. My issue is that all the arguments are completely hypocritical. Mashable has attacked twitter ads and other forms of sponsored conversations for the past few years….but guess what? Mashable runs sponsored tweets and posts. The only difference is that Mashable’s sponsored tweets drive traffic back to a sponsored post on It’s not just an ad. It’s an ad that leads to another ad.



How about this out of place post on “The Social Media Guide” about black friday deals at Best Buy that just so happens to contain a giant Best Buy display ad?



Why is it OK for Mashable to make money from sponsored conversations while it is “evil” for other people to do it?

I call #bullshite

donkey_tweetingOne of the arguments that I hear from people when they talk about Sponsored Tweets is that you will lose followers if you participate. It’s total #bullshite from people who have no real experience with sponsored conversations. They make assumptions about how things work and how people will react without taking the time to try it for themselves and perfect the practice.

These are not “social media experts”. Experts have actual experience with the tools and concepts they speak about. These are social media donkeys, following the herd blindly through the echo-chamber that is the blogosphere.

People like my sponsored tweets

What? Yeah. People actually find value in the sponsored tweets I share. So much so that they retweet them and thank me for “for the find”. I am not going to say I haven’t lost a few followers here and there, to be honest I have no idea. What I do know is I continue to gain followers and I have never had anyone complain about one of my sponsored tweets. Not only that, I have personally found some awesome new services from that I now love and use including


You can screw up any form of advertising

Have you ever been to a website or blog that had blinking “punch the monkey” banner ads all over it? How about an adsense explosion? It happens. It doesn’t mean that display ads are bad, it just means they can be overused, misused or abused (like any form of advertising).

You have the choice

In Sponsored Tweets you have the ability to choose which advertisers you work with and how the message is shared (which is more than I can say for adsense). I am a proud Sponsored Tweets user and I am very selective on which advertisers I work with. It turns out so are the rest of you. Less than 50% of offers made to Tweeters in are accepted. It’s not a question of money, it’s a question of finding the right fit for you and your followers.

Ted’s tips to successful sponsored tweeting

  1. Sign up. You can’t get any offers if you aren’t in the system.
  2. Be selective. Only take opportunities that are a good fit.
  3. Cap frequency. Even if the opportunities are right you need to space them out.
  4. Listen for feedback. Your followers will tell you what types of ads they like.

Don’t let inexperienced fear mongers ruin a great financial opportunity for you. Let’s look at this objectively:

Worst Case
You sign up and never find an advertiser that is a fit. Nothing happens.

Best Case
You connect with lots of advertisers and make huge bank doing what you love.

Most Likely
You connect with a moderate amount of advertisers you like and earn some extra spending money.


A few weeks ago at IZEAFest Aaron Brazell spoke briefly about the concept of entitlement as it relates to influencers. Aaron’s point was simple, you aren’t entitled to anything and should be thankful for everything. I agree with Aaron 100%

entitlementIn my role at IZEA I work with beginning bloggers to celebrities and everything in between. I have to say that I have noticed a disturbing trend over the past few years across the entire social media spectrum. As the demand for bloggers and tweeters has increased so has the size of their heads. I am sad to say that many of the people I network with have become downright ungrateful. The inflation of entitlement far outpaces the true value of the people who display these behaviors.

Don’t confuse entitlement with value. You should always negotiate the best deal possible for yourself and I would never suggest otherwise. However, the manner in which you negotiate your terms and interact with your business associates makes a huge difference. I don’t care who you are… nobody owes you anything. Not a business opportunity, a free ticket, a free meal, a free drink or even a kind word. Everything somebody does for you is done because they want to.

I don’t do business with people because of who they are, I do business with people because of what they are. While your stature may initially open the door it is your actions that keep the relationship progressing forward.

Ted’s Guide to Avoid Becoming a Donkey

  • Be thankful
  • Participate
  • Smile
  • Recognize when you mess up, apologize when appropriate
  • Don’t be afraid to be humble

One of my favorite bloggers is Drew from He has worked his way up the blogging ranks over the past few years but has always remained grounded. At BlogWorld Ben brought me an ice cream cone. He saw that I was trapped in my booth and I hadn’t had anything to eat. First of all I want to say THANK YOU AGAIN. Second I want to say holy crap, how nice was that of you? I am not entitled to that sort of treatment and I truly appreciate it.

Even though Drew has become a big blogger he still does and says the things that he has always done. He is just a good all around guy, someone I met through business and now consider a friend. The door remains open for Drew because he doesn’t believe he is entitled. He gives back more than he gets and I would do anything for the guy.

Don’t be a Donkey

If you have made a name for yourself congratulations! I am happy for you and I hope it brings much prosperity. Just remember what got you there and that it could all be gone tomorrow.