It is pretty obvious that Twitter is a right-time-right-place kind of service. Modern life needs something like Twitter, so, for the time being, it’s a “success,” if, by “success” you mean a service pretty much everyone hates but only uses because there’s no option other than the insane Gab.
So, as a thought experiment, how might found a service with potentially explosive growth that would crush Twitter — and to a limited extent Reddit. Reddit, in my belief, is kinda sorta Usenet but not nearly as much fun as Usenet was and I think it’s UX it’s a complete mess. Though I’ve heard they’re going to revamp it, so maybe much of what I’m griping about will become moot sooner rather than later.
Having said all that, let’s begin.
What I would do is, study what made IRC and Usenet popular 20 years ago and then, from the ground up, work to not only fix the problems with Twitter but also make the service as accommodating to advertising as possible. Usenet died, in large part because no one could figure out how to use to advertise goods and services without it being spam.
Anyway, after I spent a little time doing that, I would establish a very small limited-invite service that would be used to get the kinks out. The service would, in large part, be a Web implementation of any number of great Usenet clients that used to exist. Of course, it would be on just one Website so you wouldn’t have the problem of distributed computing that Usenet had. (There was lag in distributing posts which no one would accept in today’s fast-paced world.)
After I had done that, I would a small group of thought leaders and celebrities on Twitter and give them invites. I would give them some time to get used to the service’s new UX and then explain to them that since they were verified account holders, they would have the exclusive ability to create new Groups that would within them have Discussions. After giving them some more time to figure out exactly what that meant, I would then give them a limited number of invites that they could give friends. I would think slowly grow out the service in such a way that I think it would have explosive growth. Huge growth in a very quick amount of time. Like, early Facebook growth.
Now, of course, once the service got the buzz I would expect it to get, the major online players would either want to co-op it or buy it. I would politely decline because, well, they suck. 🙂 I just can’t see Twitter getting its act together to co-op the features of this proposed service. Facebook has a completely different vision and the one service that would probably be the direct competitor — Reddit — has an established user-based that would not take kindly to too dramatic a shake up in the UX.
You wouldn’t even need that much money to begin with, I don’t think. You could probably accomplish a lot with crowdfunding. But no one likes me and I can’t code and don’t want to learn so this is just a daydream. It’s a very compelling daydream, but a daydream nonetheless.