Twitter Buys SMS Startup Cloudhopper to Scale Mobile Tweets

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-04-24

Twitter, which has struggled with scale as its user base exploded to hit 105 million users, purchased startup Cloudhopper for an undisclosed sum April 23.

A Twitter partner for the last eight months, Cloudhopper provides messaging software and infrastructure that helps Twitter connect with mobile carriers all over the world with little latency and downtime.

Cloudhopper's technology powers some of the largest and most successful SMS and MMS campaigns in North America, Europe and Africa, wrote Twitter mobile platform director Kevin Thau in a blog post.

This is a big deal, as moer than 60 percent of registered Twitter accounts come from outside the United States. Indeed, Twitter credits Cloudhopper for piping almost 1 billion SMS tweets per month.

The startup also helped the microblog expand its SMS coverage to India with mobile operator Bharti Airtel, where users in India can send Twitter tweets at standard rates and receive tweets for free.

Twitter also expanded to the U.K. with the help of Orange, with which it offers SMS and MMS, allowing users to send pictures from their smartphones with Twitter and Snapshot. 

The purchase of Cloudhopper is a stark reminder that Twitter was originally conceived by co-founders Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey as a mobile first service.

The company's focus on mobile is why Twitter's 140 character limit was designed to allow any tweet to be read in its entirety from mobile phones employing the much smaller third screen.

Cloudhopper was founded by Joe Lauer in late 2008 to provide mobile messaging technology and expertise to businesses in the wireless space.

Before forming Cloudhopper, Lauer was the founder and vice president of Simplewire, one of the first SMS aggregators in North America. Lauer has joined Twitter to work with Thau to support and expand Twitter's SMS growth all over the world.

Cloudhopper is Twitter's second purchase in as many weeks, as the company acquired Atebits, maker of the iPhone app Tweetie, April 9. Twitter also acquired location-based service Mixer Labs, social software maker Values of n, and search provider Summize.

Twitter followed the Tweetie buy with its Chirp developer conference, where it said the Library of Congress was now archiving its tweets; launched its @anywhere service; and discussed its Promoted Tweets ad service.  

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