Why Twitter bought Tumblr's biggest rival, Posterous

@CNNMoneyTech March 14, 2012: 3:06 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When Twitter buys a startup, it's often after the company's staff, not its product -- which makes Twitter's latest takeover one of its most intriguing. Twitter announced late Monday that it has acquired blogging platform Posterous.

Launched in 2008, Posterous -- like its archrival Tumblr -- pioneered the "microblogging" space. Its specialty is content that's longer than a tweet but shorter than a traditional blog post. The services are especially good for sharing photos, videos, quotes and other multimedia snippets.

Posterous' staff of 21 previously worked out of a San Francisco headquarters just two miles from Twitter's home base. They joined Twitter's staff this week.

Is Twitter looking to venture beyond its famous 140-character limit, into the broader microblogging world?

The early signs are no. Twitter is keeping Posterous up and running, at least for the time being, but its staff is being redeployed on other projects.

"We are welcoming a very talented group of engineers, product managers and others," a Twitter spokeswoman said. "They will be working on several initiatives that will make Twitter even better."

Posterous founder and CEO Sachin Agarwal took a similar line in his personal blog post about the Twitter deal.

He is joining Twitter as a product manager, reporting to Twitter product chief Satya Patel, and will be working "to make Twitter an even more awesome product," he wrote. "We couldn't be happier about bringing our team's expertise to a product that reaches hundreds of millions of users around the globe."

Prior to launching Posterous, Agarwal worked at Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) as a senior software engineer. His experience there influenced his decision to sell to Twitter, he said.

"For me, working at Apple wasn't just a job. It meant being part of a company and brand I believe passionately," Agarwal wrote. "I see Twitter the same way."

What happens now to Posterous? Twitter says it "will remain up and running without disruption," but it isn't making long-term promises.

"We'll give users ample notice if we make any changes to the service," Posterous wrote in a blog post announcing the takeover. "For users who would like to back up their content or move to another service, we'll share clear instructions for doing so in the coming weeks."

While hundreds of Posterous users clicked the "like" button to show their enthusiasm for the deal, others had a grimmer view.

"Don't like the sound of this at all. Twitter ruined Tweetdeck," Posterous user Mark David Zahn posted, referring to Twitter's acquisition nine months ago of a widely used Twitter desktop client. "Better not happen to Posterous. I just spent a ton of time moving everything I had from Tumblr."  To top of page

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