Twitter leaps ahead in social commerce, acquires CardSpring

In the quest to explore in the moment social media commerce opportunities, Twitter announced today that it has acquired CardSpring, an application platform that enables coders to build offers linked to cards and virtual currencies. According to sources, the service will be kept open to all developers.

Social-media giants’ intention to get into social commerce has been well publicized. Facebook has been testing a buy button to integrate a purchase option into its users’ newsfeeds. But we believe Twitter has the upper hand in this market, primarily because people can retweet what they like. This feature means messages’ reach could grow exponentially. With Facebook, users can like a post and it focuses more on the original content. But the reshare focus of Twitter is attractive for businesses, because it gives them free exponential growth in reach.

The company has taken a walled-garden approach so far for in-tweet payments. In April 2013, when Ribbon (SFO startup) grabbed eyeballs as it launched an in-stream payment process for Twitter, in about couple of hours, Twitter put an end to it without specifying any concrete reasons. Earlier that year, Ribbon had managed 1.6 Mn funding, and also offering an in-stream payment option for Facebook.

We believe Twitter will use CardSpring to integrate card-linked offers with tweets. For instance, a user might get an in-tweet discount from a merchant that will take the user’s credit-card number. Later on, when the user can make the purchase, CardSpring will identify the card number and apply the discount.

It will also keep the merchant posted about the performance of the offer. Thus, it can make Twitter an indispensable tool for local businesses to reach the mass market.

CardSpring has proved its mettle in payments and analytics over the past few years. Last year, the company launched CardSpring Connect, a commerce analytics system that provides analytics on the performance of merchants’ in-store POS systems. It also provides insights on the performance of merchants’ online campaigns through different services, such as Foursquare, Trialpay, Thanx and MOGL.

It has raised over $10 Mn from Greylock Partners, Accel Partners, Morado Venture Partners, SV Angel, Data Collective, John Hering, Felicis Ventures and Webb Investment Network. The company boasts an impressive list of merchants working with it.

We think it is a logical move by Twitter, which has been trying to make inroads with in-tweet purchasing over the past couple of years. The company earlier experimented with giving users in-tweet deals and an option to add items to their shopping carts.

According to a blog post from Twitter: 'It fit with our philosophy regarding the best ways to bring in-the-moment commerce experiences to our users.'