What Twitter Has in Store for Crypto
YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF CRYPTOCURRENCY. Elon Musk is revered on Twitter, where accounts have Bored Apes as profile images, discussions are filled with mention of tokens, blockchains, and buying the Bitcoin plunge, and accounts have Bored Apes as profile pictures.
You may have heard of Twitter Crypto. The business team was tasked with designing the social network’s strategy for cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and the jumble of decentralized technology known as Web3.
Tess Rinearson, a Berlin-based American computer scientist with experience at Tendermint and Interchain, announced the team in November 2021 via a tweet.
Rinearson joined Twitter at a critical juncture in his career. The company’s pro-Bitcoin CEO, Jack Dorsey, will resign a few weeks later to be replaced by CTO Parag Agrawal. Bluesky, a Twitter-backed effort to design a protocol—possibly with blockchain components—to build decentralized social networks, has Agrawal as a key contributor.
As cryptocurrency became more prevalent around the world and crypto Twitter grew in popularity, the corporation attempted to control the market. In September 2021, under the leadership of product manager Esther Crawford, Twitter launched a “tipping” functionality that allows Twitter producers to collect Bitcoin contributions via Lightning, a rapid Bitcoin payment network. Through cooperation with NFT marketplace OpenSea, Twitter’s premium service, Twitter Blue, allowed customers to display their NFTs as hexagonal profile images in January.
NFT Profile Pictures are now available in our early access Labs feature (within @TwitterBlue) so you can add more depth to how you express yourself on Twitter. Proof of ownership will show as a hexagon & when others tap on it they can learn about the art. 🚀💙🥳 Let’s gooo! https://t.co/ClobzJuXCM
— Esther Crawford ✨ (@esthercrawford) January 20, 2022
Twitter Crypto is still in its infancy. Rinearson works with employees from all throughout the firm, but her team is still under ten people, despite recent job listings indicating that additional hires are on the way. As a result, it’s worth pondering what comes next. Rinearson and Crawford had a video call to discuss the future of Twitter Crypto.
For clarity and brevity, the conversation has been modified.
What is the purpose of Twitter’s crypto unit?
Tess Rinearson (Tess Rinearson): We believe that crypto—and what we’re now calling Web3—could be an enormously powerful instrument that would open up a lot of doors for our consumers. The entire crypto world is similar to an internet of money, an internet of value that our users might possibly use to develop new methods of owning, monetizing, owning their own identity, and even relating to one another.
I definitely enjoy the crypto Twitter space—I’m a proud member of the crypto community. At the same time, I acknowledge that those deeply immersed in the crypto space may not relate to notions like blockchain’s immutability in the same way that someone less immersed in the field may. One of my objectives is to expand Twitter’s crypto unit so that it can serve communities beyond the core crypto community.
So a lot of what we try to think about is, what can we learn from this set of extremely engaged and creative folks? Then, how can we translate some of that information into a structure, a process, or a product that is more accessible to individuals without that background?
Let’s talk about the two key features you’ve so far delivered: crypto tipping and NFT photos. Can you give a short history of how and why each of these things came to be?
Crawford: Those were our first few experiments, and the reason we started there was because we wanted to make sure that everything we produced benefited creators, their fans, and then all of the Twitter conversations. We recognize that creators rely on networks like Twitter to monetize and earn a living and that not everyone has access to traditional currencies. Not everyone has access to a typical bank account.
We wanted to create a chance for a borderless payment solution, which is why we chose Bitcoin Lightning as our first major integration. Low transaction fees were also a factor in our decision to adopt Bitcoin Lightning. We discovered that people were actually posting information about their crypto wallet addresses to their profiles. As a result, we sought to create a more fluid experience, where users could just tip through the platform as if it were native. We now offer Bitcoin and Ethereum addresses that you may add to your Twitter “tipping jar.”
Again, looking at user behavior led to the creation of NFT profile images. People were using NFTs as avatars, but you had no way of knowing if they actually possessed those NFTs. As a result, we decided to develop that feature so that one could genuinely verify ownership.