Twitter didn't look like it was going to make it.
In the seven years since its birth, it has struggled. It was a tech company with major service outages. Its co-founders feuded and it cycled through CEOs. Three hundred of its internal documents were leaked and published. It introduced advertising without asking its users to opt in. Pundits dismissed its 140-character service as just a widget that a bigger company should buy.
It's the anti-MBA case study. Part of its charm has been its "failability," said one observer.
And yet, last week, Twitter proved it's around for the foreseeable future when it celebrated its IPO with a more than 70 percent pop on the first day and raised $1.8 billion. While much of Twitter's success has been attributed to the leadership that has navigated the company in recent years, the company's service has built-in characteristics that make it resilient.
To those who still think Twitter is just this year's flavor, reconsider your position. Here are five reasons why Twitter will survive:
1. The real YouTube
Twitter lets people do something fundamental -- have their say. Twitter has figured out a way to give users a casual, easy way to broadcast to a wide audience without much effort. The company's key decision was to set up the service so that people could follow someone without getting that person's permission.
That has attracted celebrities, sports figures and politicians who have long bristled at having to go to the media to communicate. Followers have loved the direct contact, too. For non-celebrities, Twitter has created a reward system of retweets and favorites that lets the rest of us feel we are being heard.
2. The king of mobile
Twitter has become the chief distribution channel for mobile. Although it launched a year before the first iPhone went on sale, the service has been mobile since its inception in 2006 when users were text messaging using Twitter. While other companies have struggled with the user shift to smartphones and tablets, more than 70 percent of Twitter's revenue is from mobile.
3. Enjoying the network effect
The more people who use the service, particularly influencers, the more who want to be on it. As we saw with MySpace, once the favorite hangout of bands, a social service's popularity can vanish overnight if it doesn't keep innovating or if another platform offers something unique and compelling. And since just 16 percent of U.S. adults currently use Twitter, according to a new Pew Research Center study, there is a lot of room to grow.
4. Making friends with Hollywood
Silicon Valley companies have at times struggled with their relationship with Hollywood. Twitter took a different tack and decided to tie itself to TV as a companion. And its pitch to advertisers is that it is the TV of the new age, giving brands the ability to reach audiences of influencers in a targeted way.
Industry analysts point out that users who converse on Twitter about their favorite movies and TV shows are also giving advertisers information about their interests. Victor Anthony, an Internet analyst at Topeka Capital Markets, said that Twitter has become synonymous with the idea of "social TV" and that advertisers and TV networks are turning to Twitter to drive "audience and reach."
Others have suggested that Twitter could also spread its wings into commerce, with its users prompted to watch a movie or TV episode discussed or purchase a product that is advertised.
5. Swiss Army knife of a service.
People use Twitter in a variety of ways that don't seem to clash. They search for people and topics, follow fast-breaking news such as bin Laden's death, get information out about an emergency and chatter about the latest episode of "Glee." They can talk directly with the rich and famous, a kind of access to newsmakers that is unique. And they are relatively loyal to the service, coming back for more.
Sure, someone else may come along and build a better mousetrap. And another massive technical shift could knock Twitter off its perch if it doesn't anticipate it.
But I'm betting the company is going to survive technology's rocky shoals.
Contact Michelle Quinn at 510-394-4196 and email@example.com Follow her at twitter.com/michellequinn.