December 28, 2011, 4:03 PM — Like more than 200 million other people, I have a Twitter account. And like many of them, I often wonder if there is any value at all to tweeting, besides the narcissistic belief that other people really care what I ate for lunch or what charming/obnoxious thing my children did that day. (Answer: They do not.)
That question of Twitter’s worth may soon be determined by a California court, thanks to a lawsuit filed by mobile news site PhoneDog.com. The P-dogs are suing a former employee, my pal Noah Kravitz, because when Kravitz left for greener pastures he took the Twitter account he’d created to promote his blog posts (@phonedog_noah) with him. He also changed its name to @NoahKravitz.
According to New York Times blogger John Biggs:
When he left, he said, PhoneDog told him he could keep his Twitter account in exchange for posting occasionally. The company asked him to “tweet on their behalf from time to time and I said sure, as we were parting on good terms,” Mr. Kravitz said.
No matter. Eight months later PhoneDog decided that it owned his Twitter followers, not Kravitz. So they sued him for the rights to them, claiming that his tweeps represented “customer data.” Because as we all know, the act of following someone else on Twitter is a deep personal and financial commitment, certain to pay off in sales of mobile telecommunications equipment.
The interesting part of this is that PhoneDog has determined what it believes that Twitter account is worth: $2.50 per follower per month. So it’s suing Kravitz to recover $340,000, based on 17,000 followers over 8 months.
Seem a little high to you? Me too. But it begs an obvious follow-up question: If the people who followed Kravitz are worth $2.50 apiece each month, how much are the tweets that Noah wrote worth to PhoneDog? Because we all know that a) nobody would have followed that Twitter account if Kravitz wasn’t tweeting his brains out each day, and b) PhoneDog didn’t pay him a dime to write those.
Using the Tynan Tweet Value Extractor (patent pending), I have determined what PhoneDog owes Kravitz.