Evan Williams, the co-founder of micro blogging site Twitter, lost his cool on the recent comparisons between the number of users of Twitter and Facebook owned Instagram. As Instagram announced its user figures of 300 million yesterday, analysts and media were quick enough to draw comparisons with Twitter. In an interview, when Evan Williams was asked to opine on the news, he said that it is absolutely a wrong metric to focus on number of users.
Here is the entire explanation Williams gave to the question, “It’s a question of breadth versus depth. Why is users the only thing we talk about? The crazy thing: Facebook has done an amazing job of establishing that as the metric for Wall Street. No one ever talks about, ‘What is a [monthly active user]?’ I believe it’s the case that if you use Facebook Connect—if you use an app that you logged into with Facebook Connect—you’re considered a Facebook user whether or not you ever launched the Facebook app or went to Facebook.com. So what does that mean? It’s become so abstract to be meaningless. Something you did caused some data in their servers to be recorded for the month. So I think we’re on the wrong path. If you think about the impact Twitter has on the world versus Instagram, it’s pretty significant. It’s at least apples to oranges. Twitter is what we wanted it to be. It’s this realtime information network where everything in the world that happens on Twitter—important stuff breaks on Twitter and world leaders have conversations on Twitter. If that’s happening, I frankly don’t give a shit if Instagram has more people looking at pretty pictures.”
Williams further asserted that he isn’t the authority to be making statements or passing judgements on the financial figures of the company, but he said that Twitter makes a lot of more money than what Instagram does. And on the method which Facebook used to calculate the number of active users on Instagram, he affirmed that their means of calculating is anyone who shared something on Facebook, even if its through some third party application integrated with Facebook, is counted as an ‘active Facebook user’. Hence even those who do not go to Facebook for a month, are still very much a part of their count of active users.