How Can Twitter Further Monetise Without Losing Users?

When you build a hugely successful product or service that is free to use, how do you then go about trying to make serious money from it? This is a problem faced by Twitter, and one of its former board-members has been warning of the dangers of chasing the green too quickly.

Mike McCue is a technology entrepreneur and shareholder in Twitter, who was also on micro-blogging site’s board until August this year. He stepped down to avoid any potential conflict of interest with his own venture, Flipboard. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he warned that by making too many big changes in an effort to monetise the platform, Twitter might risk losing some of the 200 million+ active users it has worked so hard to gain in the six years the company has been around:

“Twitter can be incredibly valuable as an open communications mechanism but, if you close too many things down too quickly, if you think about it too short-sightedly, you could easily do a lot of damage to that ecosystem.

Twitter was created as an open platform, an open communications ecosystem, and I hope it can stay that way. You have to be really careful not to let money get in the way of that.”

Recently Twitter has been taking more of an active stance, by increasing advertising and restricting the amount of data that it is willing to share with third-party app developers. The Twitter API changes have caused a bit of an upset among developers, and it remains to be seen if Mr McCue is correct in his fear that too much change might be the company’s undoing.

What do you think? If a company or social network tinkers too much with a product you are happy with or starts displaying too many adverts, would you consider leaving?