Kred’s Parent Company Takes Twitter to Court

By Devon Glenn 

PeopleBrowsr, the parent company of social influence scoring site Kred, has won a restraining order against Twitter to prevent the microblogging site from blocking access to its Firehose of tweets.

Both parties appeared at the San Francisco Superior Court on November 28, 2012. A hearing for a preliminary injunction has been set for January 8th, 2013.

PeopleBrowsr has built an entire business providing insights for people and organizations from Twitter’s never-ending stream of tweets going back as far as 1,000 days.  Kred uses the Firehose to rank Twitter users based on their influence in different communities and locations.

In the court filing, PeopleBrowsr explained:

Now, after years in a mutually beneficial relationship, Twitter has threatened to cut off PeopleBrowsr’s access to the Firehose on November 30, 2012. Twitter knows that this will devastate PeopleBrowsr’s business and eliminate it as a competitor in the Twitter Big Data Analytics market, clearing the way for Twitter to dominate that market. Twitter has repeatedly required PeopleBrowsr to reveal its confidential innovations and business prospects, including existing contracts, so that it could use this information to appropriate PeopleBrowsr’s business opportunities.

Twitter argued that the original contract, which gave PeopleBrowsr full access to the Firehose, had expired in July 2011. The company added:

…Twitter continues to share its data with literally hundreds of companies. But as Twitter has grown, its contracting practices have matured. Where it once contracted directly with just a handful of data customers like PeopleBrowsr, it now has hundreds of data customers. In order to handle that broad commercial demand in a consistent and transparent manner Twitter has created channel resyndication partnerships with Gnip, Datasift, and Topsy. PeopleBrowsr is free to contract with any one of them, just as its competitors do. What Twitter is not free to do is insist that Twitter preserve forever its earlier business model, or continue to be bound by a contract that expired more than a year ago.

PeopleBrowsr argued that the resellers only have access to part of Twitter’s data, which meant that PeopleBrowsr would be unable to fulfill the multi-million dollar contracts it has open with Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, including a $3 million contract with the Department of Defense.

“We relied on Twitter’s promise of openness when we invested millions of dollars and thousands of hours of development time,” said Jodee Rich, founder and CEO of PeopleBrowsr in a statement. “Long term supply is essential as this industry matures. We made this application to ensure full unrestricted access to the Firehose for our Enterprise and Government clients.”

 Image by Gts  via Shutterstock.