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The Original Idea behind TweetMeme

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In Meet Nick Halstead the Founder of Tweetmeme from July 14th, Loic Le Meur publishes a five-minute video interview with TweetMeme founder Nick Halstead. One particular fragment of the interview strikes me with disbelief. My post here explains why I am less than amused.

At just after 4 minutes, Loic asks Nick:

Where did you get the idea, for the first time?”

Nick responds:

We, err, we just looked at Twitter, we, the, err , a year ago we actually had a first pass of the website, and we kind of let it languish, and then we saw how big Twitter was getting in January and we took all the technology from the bit built in the company for the year before, and we just took all that and rebuilt it, really, you know, really quickly.

Now, in contrast to the video, look at this compilation of several tweets from the very early days of TweetMeme’s inception, starting January 5th, 2008:

  1. Marjolein Hoekstra
    CleverClogs I sincerely hope @gaberivera won’t come up with the idea to create @tweetmeme, Then again someone else might.Account name still available…
  2. Nick Halstead
    nickhalstead @cleverclogs now registered – what shall we do with it? 🙂
  3. Marjolein Hoekstra
    CleverClogs @nickhalstead that’s the general problem I have with guys: you tell them NOT to do something, next thing you know they’re in head over heels
  4. Marjolein Hoekstra
    CleverClogs @nickhalstead I think I need to ask my lawyers to send you my ToS in triplicate 😉 At least I can cry “FIRST!”
  5. Marjolein Hoekstra
    CleverClogs Going over @tweetmeme specs with @nickhalstead on Skype chat right now.
  6. Nick Halstead
    nickhalstead and big thanks to @CleverClogs for help with it
  7. Mike Butcher
    mikebutcher @CleverClogs Do you want a credit on Tweetmeme story? Happy to add your role 🙂
  8. Marjolein Hoekstra
    CleverClogs @NickHalstead You may need to speak with @Noelleee about getting @TweetMeme featured on @Alltop. She’s Content Manager, if I’m not mistaken.
  9. Marjolein Hoekstra
    CleverClogs @noelleee Nick Halstead started last year after a tweet from me. It has become very successful and gets quoted a lot.

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Many people know that the original idea for TweetMeme came from me. Almost immediately after I hinted at the creation of a TweetMeme service in January 2008, Nick Halstead picked up the idea, and contacted me over Twitter DM. He was enthused and kindly asked my permission to go ahead with the idea. Nick would register the domain name and would also claim the @TweetMeme account on Twitter. That evening, we had an intense Skype call and several subsequent chats about the direction of TweetMeme. We also discussed my future remuneration once the service would gain funding, though at that time it didn’t seem likely at all that this type of service would become highly popular. Nick kept me posted continually during the first development phase.

The TweetMeme Launch blog post from Jan 28, 2008 is unambiguous:

“This project has only possible because of help from a number of very talented people. So let me first thank Marjolein Hoekstra who first twittered about the concept and since then has been a constant sounding board for the project.”

Nick is correct. On just about every new feature launched since the day that TweetMeme started, I posted several tweets in a row, contacted A-list bloggers to see if they were interested, and over-all made sure people knew something very powerful was being built on top of the Twitter API. I provided Nick with very detailed and constructive feedback on how to improve TweetMeme.

In March of this year I helped Nick get Alltop founder Guy Kawasaki’s attention so that he would incorporate the TweetMeme blog feed on his Alltop Twitter category page.

Last April, ReadWriteWeb published Tweetmeme Live: See What’s Big on Twitter Right Now after RWW editors noticed a tweet from me about the new TweetMeme Live feature. The original credit footnote to the story was this:

When Nick Halstead urged me to have that credit footnote changed, I obliged immediately because I was made to believe he was going to get into serious trouble with his investors if they’d find out I was involved and might stake an IP claim. I was totally wiped out for days.

Let me summarize how I look at the situation: Nick and his team have pulled off a remarkable job building TweetMeme into a very solid, thriving company and though for obvious reasons I don’t tweet about TweetMeme much anymore, I still value and respect their work highly. However, in the video interview with Loic it seems Nick is denying my original inspiration and subsequent involvement in the development of TweetMeme completely.

My goal with this post is two-fold: to set the record straight about my exact role in the product and also to encourage Nick Halstead to openly come to terms about this. I propose we settle adequately and appropriately and then move on—as decent professionals would. Appropriate actions would comprise of a proper credit  statement on the TweetMeme About page describing  my role, and adequate recognition of my initiating role in public company statements. If a check arrives in the mail, I’ll happily cash it.

Do you think I’m being unreasonable here?


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Written by CleverClogs

July 17th, 2009 at 10:29 am

Posted in Tech start-ups,Twitter Tools

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