Xconomy Wins Its Twitter Struggle–How Wade Reclaimed Our Good Name

4/21/09Follow @bbuderi

After a months-long struggle, Xconomy has finally evicted the squatter who usurped our namesake account on Twitter. It took perseverance, Zen, and knowing folks in high Tweeting places to pull it off. But as of last night, Xconomy is on the Twitter air.

Thank you Bijan. Thank you Twitter. And thanks to CNET for the inspiration (read on).

The story might provide some insights into Twitter’s phenomenal growth—and the ongoing question of whether it is growing too fast. The saga began early this year, when Wade (who has had his own Twitter account since March 2007) went to activate an Xconomy account and found the name had already been taken, but apparently never been used. It took another few days to figure out that none of the editors, or our part-time CTO, had opened the account—and so, on Feb. 27 (late, true, but pre-Oprah anyway), Wade submitted the first help request seeking to evict the squatter.

As Wade explains in a rare interview, “Squatting is against Twitter’s terms of service, so we thought it would be a simple matter to get the squatter evicted and to get the right to use our own name on Twitter.”

But that first help request sat there for three weeks—until we found out it had been marked “resolved” in Twitter’s help system. Says Wade, “It turned out they had such a backlog of help requests that they had just decided to purge their system and marked everything ‘resolved.’”

Wade tried again in late March–and the help request was almost instantly addressed this time. But it turned out Twitter had merely detected key words in Wade’s request and had sent him an automated e-mail about how to change his password. This request was also marked “resolved.”

At which point, after a few more weeks of waiting while a third help request sat pending, Wade took a deep breath and called in the heavy artillery: Bijan Sabet, a general partner at Boston’s Spark Capital who happens to be on Twitter’s board and whom we have written about many times. “Though I hate calling in favors or leaning on people, we did know Bijan who is intimately involved in Twitter,” Wade says. “I figured that at this point I was desperate enough to resort to asking him if he could intervene for us.”

It seemed to work. After sending a note on April 8 explaining things to Bijan, Wade heard right away from a woman at Twitter who got the eviction process started and set up Xconomy with a temporary user name.

But it was not to be that simple. The temporary account just sat there. Communication with the Twitter helper ceased. And then, yesterday, Wade read an account by Rafe Needleman at CNET that (while raising his own questions about Twitter as a business) told how his own Twitter password snafu had been swiftly resolved by the Twitter help desk. “If CNET can get an immediate response for help from Twitter, why can’t we?” Wade reasoned (don’t answer that).

So last night he e-mailed the woman at Twitter again, but this time copied Bijan. And Presto, we finally went live (Twitter will not reveal the name of the evicted squatter—but we have our suspicions). You can now find three Xconomy-related accounts on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/xconomy — our company account

http://twitter.com/wroush — from our intrepid chief correspondent Wade Roush

http://twitter.com/bbuderi — from our founder and editor in chief, me, Bob Buderi

Thanks for listening to us chirp.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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  • Karen Lilla

    Congratulations…your perseverance paid off!

  • Kim

    Good job. Twitter squatting is all the rage these days

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