Twitter CEO Evan Williams delivers keynote at SXSW in wake of Twitter's first party
Twitter's first official South by Southwest party was so hard to get into that the tech geeks outside waiting in the queue created a Foursquare check-in for the line. Once inside The Parish bar, the fortunate ones were treated to a full set by rhythm and blues darlings Black Joe Lewis, and a partially open bar.
Mingling through the club was Twitter CEO Evan Williams who had earlier announced the bash via his 140-character wonder.
The soft spoken entrepreneur had all the reason in the world to gloat due to the fact that three years ago his fledgling start-up was warmly received at SXSW and since then has only spread through the Web at breakneck speed despite occasional technical outages and serious competition from the biggest names on the Internet. In just the last two years none other than Google and Facebook have either introduced a new product to mimic and improve the Twitter style (Google's Buzz) or have changed the way their homepage is viewed (Facebook) to provide an experience faintly similar to Twitter.
Neither attack has affected Twitter's popularity, and when asked how he felt about surviving the challenges, the ever-cool Williams simply said that his company shouldn't rest, which is probably one reason he left behind co-founder Biz Stone back in San Francisco with the majority of the small company. "We still probably brought too many," Williams said, seemingly embarrassed at the extravagance of flying, gasp, 20 people out to the event.
Of note at the party were how many attendees were twittering at the Twitter bash instead of watching the blazing hot band.
Another noticeable, but predictable, tech-convention visualization is how any pretty girl will be surrounded by flocks of very polite young gentlemen. Internet celebrity Justine Ezarik (best known as iJustine) was rarely without three or four male attendees patiently waiting for their chance to say hello or pose for a photo.
One way Twitter has influenced the Web is how it shows one aspect of popularity. Ezarik, for example, is one of the very small percentage of Twitter users who has amassed over 1 million "followers" (she currently has 1,138,040).
What sort of things does Ezarik send off to her followers? Last night she tweeted: "At the twitter party.. Had to tweet about it! #sxsw"
No one said every message on Twitter was Shakespeare.
At 2 p.m. local time, Williams began delivering the SXSW keynote interview of the day. Odds are he will enlighten the auditorium a little more than he ever could in just 140 characters. He is expected to discuss how Twitter will be able to monetize itself. But who knows. When he announced his sale of Blogger to Google several years ago, he did so at a much smaller Web conference via two sentences with a link from his blog to a news article. His blog entry that day could have easily fit into a tweet. He simply wrote, "Holy crap. Note to self: When you get off this panel, you should probably comment on this."
-- Tony Pierce in Austin
Follow Tony at SXSW all week at @busblog
Top photo: Twitter CEO Evan Williams at the Twitter party at SXSW at the Parish. Second photo: People twittering from the Twitter party. Third photo: The Black Joe Lewis performs for the crowd. Bottom photo: Justine Ezarik surrounded by gentlemen attendees, including the L.A. Times' Mark Milian in the blue T-shirt. Credit: Tony Pierce / Los Angeles Times