Despite a flurry of product improvements over the last year, Twitter has been quietly improving its direct messaging interface. Users will now be able to pin six conversations to the top of their DM inbox for fast access, according to the business. On iOS, Android, and the web, the feature is available. Last year, Twitter introduced some long-awaited changes to DMs, including the ability to DM a tweet to multiple persons in separate discussions. To “avoid timestamp clutter,” Twitter began grouping messages by day instead of timestamping individual messages with the date and time.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Twitter announced more new DM features in the coming months. In the last months of 2021, Twitter purchased two messaging companies: Sphere, a London-based group chat software, and Quill, a potential Slack competitor. Both Sphere and Quill employees were incorporated into Twitter, with former Quill employees focusing on message. Ludwig Pettersson, the inventor of Quill and the former creative director of Stripe, has joined Twitter’s Conversations team as a project manager.
Twitter has bought Sphere, a London-based company that runs an eponymous group chat software, the latest in a string of recent acquisitions by the social media giant as it seeks to aggressively widen and improve its product offerings. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by Sphere, which was founded by Tomas Halgas and Nick D’Aloisio, who previously founded news summary app Summly, which he famously sold to Yahoo at the age of 17 for a reputed $30 million. The startup had purportedly raised at least $30 million, with $11.8 million raised in the first two rounds, according to TechCrunch.
To TechCrunch, a Twitter spokeswoman verified the Sphere acquisition news. In a blog post, Sphere wrote, “Much like others, we’ve been following and applauding Twitter’s increased investment in community-building with the rollout of Communities, Spaces, and features that enhance safety.”
“We were even more pleased when we met the team by how seriously they are pursuing interest-based communities and how much they believe in their potential effect when we met them.” Sphere said the standalone app will be phased down next month as part of the transition, which will see approximately 20 of its employees join Twitter. The startup didn’t say how many users or clients it had attracted.
“It’s been a long and exciting road to get here.” Sphere, like many other startups, began with a totally different mission: to help anybody instantaneously locate and exchange knowledge by creating a “global brain.” “We started out as a marketplace of paid professionals from all over the world, connecting them through group chat,” the company explained in a blog post. “What we discovered is that some of the most useful and knowledgable discussions took place in groups where members felt a strong feeling of belonging to one another.” To put it another way, the heart of our challenge was to assist each and every person in locating their neighborhood. The potential is enormous.”
The decision comes as Twitter has become more active in recent quarters in expanding its product offerings. The company, which tried to buy Clubhouse earlier this year, debuted a similar function this year and has since taken many steps to control disruptive discussion on its platform. With Sphere under its wing, the social media behemoth should be able to address the situation of personal and group messaging on its platform.