I thought pretty highly of Jason Calacanis at one point. He started and sold a successful company to AOL. He created the platform that brought us websites like Download Squad, TMZ, and Engadget. But some of his more recent ideas seem pretty shady to me. He hired top users on Digg to become active on AOL’s social bookmarking site Propeller and now he is offering Twitter with $250,000.
Here’s how it works. When someone new registers for an account at Twitter, they are suggested to follow several high-profile accounts such as CNN, JetBlue, FragDolls, NPR, NYT, Terry Moran, John McCain, Coldplay, Nightline, Tony Hawk, Michael Ian Black, Martha Stewart, 50 Cent, Ryan Seacrest, TIME, Fred Durst, and Soulja Boy. Late last month, I wrote about how suggested users are sending tons of followers to those who are recommended.
Apparently Jason Calacanis believes that being on suggested users will be worth as much as a Super Bowl ad within 5 years. This is why he is offering $250,000 to Twitter to be added to the list of suggested users to follow. Calacanis was one of two co-founders of Weblogs Inc. which sold to AOL for about $30 million several years ago so this $250K will not make much of a dent on his earnings.
While I think that this is a pretentious idea, Calacanis has that kind of money to blow so why not…
This should also be a wake-up call for Twitter that they are being biased towards certain users. Perhaps they shouldn’t even have the Suggested Users feature or at least make it more advanced based on a new users’ interest.
Personally I like the way that StumbleUpon’s registration works. When you sign up for StumbleUpon, you choose certain categories of content that you like such as Technology, Health, Music, Lifestyle etc. Based on those interest categories, you are recommend different websites to stumble upon. Twitter should have a similar registration rather than listing recommended users that the company has an interest with. That sounds like a conflict of interest case to me.