Twitter is cooking up some kind of subscription service for its platform, and it’s recruiting engineers to work on it. We don’t know anything about it thus far, but the potential of it is pretty staggering.
A job listing on Twitter‘s site for a senior full-stack software engineer said the job was for “a new team, codenamed Gryphon.” The listing describes the team’s project thus: “We are building a subscription platform, one that can be reused by other teams in the future. This is a first for Twitter!” The engineer will work with the Twitter.com and Payments team. Note that this was the original job description, which has since been edited to simply say the company is looking for an “Android engineer” and there’s no mention now of Gryphon.
Twitter has a new team condenamed “Gryphon” which is building a subscription-based platform at the company….. https://t.co/d2vtKXzexb
— Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) July 8, 2020
So we know that Team Gryphon will be working on a subscription platform unlike anything that’s been on Twitter before, and it’ll have some kind of built-in payment mechanism. I can agree that sounds like a first for Twitter. A second listing, this time on LinkedIn, also mentions Gryphon. The description is slightly different, and this sentence seems most significant: “The team will be collaborating to rebuild some of Twitter’s services to produce a subscription management platform.” The “rebuild” part makes me think whoever lands this job will be responsible for incorporating the platform into Twitter.
There’s not much to go on if we’re going to speculate what the subscription service is. The info in the two job listings is pretty vague — excepting the obvious, such as the subscription platform being tied to the payment system.
So what could Twitter be toiling away on?
The first explanation to spring to mind would be something like a premium version of the site. Twitter‘s primarily ad-driven, like several of its social media peers. So there’s a chance it could be attempting to capitalize on our general irritation with ads, which would certainly be tempting.
Another possibility is Twitter is working on a Patreon-like subscription service that caters to the relationship between users. So you could “subscribe” to a major Twitter account and receive some kind of benefit. There’s no much evidence for this, except a line in the LinkedIn listing that says one requirement for the job is a love of “helping users succeed in their goals.” Straws, sure, but like I said… there’s not much else to go on.
It’s worth noting that, post-edit, the Twitter job listing replaced the specific description of a subscription platform with a word salad about how the staffer will “build components that allow for experimentation to deliver the best experience possible to all of our users” which… wow, that sounds like a frantic edit. If nothing else, the stock market took notice of the listing, as CNBC reports Twitter‘s stock jumped after it was first discovered.
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