As Twitter seems to be making a move to become lighter in its operational functions, Google has obliged them through the acquisition of Fabric, a developer system launched by Twitter in 2014. Google is now taking over the mobile app developer platform that was initially designed and launched by Twitter. Additionally, Google will also gain control over Answers mobile app analytics, Crashlytics crash reporting system, Fastlane development automation system and Digits SMS login system.
In 2014, Twitter launched Fabric as a modular SDK — a service that allowed developers to have the option to choose which tools they wanted to use in order to improve the functionality of their apps. Currently the platform reaches 2.5 billion app users who are using apps built by 580,000 developers.
This opportunity for Google to become even bigger and more influential when it comes to internet-driven platforms was created through an effort by Twitter to improve its overall financial positioning — in essence, cutting all of its non-essential divisions. Passing Fabric off to Google allows Twitter to shed itself of the operational costs associated with running the Fabric platform, without screwing its developers by completely shutting down the service.
According to the initial report concerning the acquisition of Fabric, Google will continue to operate the platform as is, and the change should not require developers to make any changes in order to facilitate the shift. Fluidity in transition is immensely important to minimize the disruption in service and performance for these developers and their customers.
What a Thinner Twitter Looks Like
During last year, there were conversations surrounding the acquisition of Twitter; however, those talks failed to produce anything concrete. What this means for Twitter is that it must take the necessary steps to become self-sustaining and quicker. The cruel truth is that if Twitter does not generate enough revenue, it will have to shut down. This need to become financially sufficient is the reason that Vine was shut down and reopened under Vine Camera — no longer hosting videos — because video hosting can become expensive.
With Vine being passed off, it is now Fabric’s turn, with Twitter obviously viewing the platform as not being lucrative enough to support the costs associated with it. The creation of Fabric was a significant detour from Twitter’s core business of data and ad business, and it has not produced the results that the company originally anticipated.
Despite Twitter’s perception of Fabric, it has confirmed that it will continue to invest in and run its other developer-facing products, which include Twitter Kit, Grip, Publisher platform, MoPub, TweetDeck, as well as its Ads APIs. The reason that the company is holding on to these services is that they are all connected to its core business. Additionally, these platforms align with the company’s priorities for 2017.
The announcement of the acquisition of Fabric by Google, was actually made by Fabric. The company announced that not only did Google acquire the Brand, but the entire development team will be a part of the acquisition agreement. The team will be working with Google’s Developer Products Group and its Firebase team. According to Francis Ma, Google’s Firebase product manager, the missions of both companies are closely aligned — focusing on facilitating the capacity of developers build better apps and to effectively grow their businesses.
As of now, the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, with Twitter refusing to offer any details upon request. Based on a statement released by Google, the entire Fabric team will be coming on board; however, Digits will remain under the control of Twitter during the transition. This acquisition will prove to be far more than an aesthetic move, with Crashlytics becoming the primary crash reporting system for Firebase. Crashlytics was founded in 2011, and it was acquired by Twitter in 2013 for $38.2 million. There are also some stock options that further boost the value of the Crashlytics deal. Additionally, Cofounder, Jeff Seibert, will be stepping down after six years of running Crashlytics, and the division will now be run by Rich Paret, Twitter’s VP of engineering.
While, Twitter, itself, is not allowed to operate in China, through its Crashlytics division, the company counted Baidu and Alibaba as users. Also, Twitter still sells advertising space to a number Chinese companies; however, it has now sold its largest bridge to the country. It is not clear how the sale will impact Twitters quest to get into China, which is now the world’s second largest economy, behind the U.S.
With the initial acquisition of Crashlytics, Twitter charged developers for access to the platform, but it eventually made the service free. It seems that the hope was that making more developers a part of the Twitter ecosystem would encourage them to build apps that would be designed to integrate with Twitter’s microblogging model — providing the social media platform with greater functionality. Unfortunately, the strategy may have not been direct enough to effectively engage the companies need to streamline costs and boost revenue generation.
Developers Trust Google More than Twitter
Twitter reported losses of $103 million in the third quarter of 2016, and it is currently looking for ways to stop the hemorrhaging. For those who are wondering how something that did not work out for Twitter will somehow work better for Google. There are several different reasons why Google will likely experience more success with the Fabric platform. First of all, Google reputation is one in which there should automatically be a higher level of trust by developers.
Google has demonstrated that it is committed to doing what is necessary to turn mobile app developers into loyal, paying customers. One way that they will do this is by upselling them from free developer tools to more highly functional paid tiers. Google has also observed the success that Amazon has experienced in selling the backend infrastructure, which is extremely robust, to developers who don’t want to spend the time to develop each and every component of an app’s architecture themselves.
Additionally, Google has the financial resources to make the necessary adjustments to the platform that will ensure that it functions optimally.