Twitter buys a company, closes it, keeps its founder/engineer

Micro-messaging service Twitter, fresh off its rejection of an offer to be acquired by Facebook, has turned around and made a purchase itself: A personal productivity and information management solutions company called Values of n, Twitter reports on its blog.

Of course, Twitter doesn’t actually plan to do anything with Values of n, and will be shuttering it immediately. Bacially, Twitter was after its founder and main engineer, Rael Dornfest. The former chief technology officer for O’Reilly Media and editor of a number of their Hacks books, is described as “one of the smartest guys I know,” by Twitter chief executive Ev Williams.

Dornfest will be working with the user experience group at Twitter. He’s apparently been consulting the company for months now.

So while this was clearly a talent acquisition, Williams last paragraph is interesting:

Values of n will be shutting down existing products. However, the technology behind the scenes will live on and potentially re-emerge as part of Twitter’s systems, services, user experience, or open source libraries. Nothing specific in this regard is planned, but there is some smart work in there by the newest member of our engineering team.

Values of n had two apps in its arsenal. One was called I Want Sandy, basically a personal digital secretary for your email inbox. Another was Stikkit, an app that did smart sticky-notes. Could we see either of these ideas eventually come to Twitter?

Dornfest elaborates further on his own blog post:

While Twitter has no immediate plans to incorporate Sandy or Stikkit’s feature sets into its core product, those who know our apps well may notice familiar-feeling bits and bobs appearing in your Twitter experience.

It looks like the future of Twitter’s user experience could be hidden in these two apps.

You can find me on Twitter here along with fellow VentureBeat writers Eric Eldon, Dean Takahashi, Anthony Ha, Chris Morrison and Dan Kaplan. Oh, and we have a VentureBeat account (for our posts) as well.


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