Twitter announced last week that Peter Chernin, a former News Corp. executive who has morphed into an entertainment investor, will join its board. Given that Twitter is perhaps better integrated than any other social network or microblogging site with the entertainment and news businesses, this is a pretty interesting development.
It also shows that Twitter could be getting serious about bolstering its financial credibility ahead of a possible IPO. This has long been discussed, but so far Twitter has lagged behind some of its peers, including Facebook and LinkedIn.
From the L.A. Times:
Chernin had been mentioned for months as a likely new Twitter director. He joins Chief Executive Dick Costolo, co-founder and former CEO Evan Williams, co-founder and Chairman Jack Dorsey, venture capitalists Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Peter Fenton of Benchmark Capital, among others, on the board. He takes the place vacated by Flipboard CEO Mike McCue.
As I've noted numerous times, Hollywood and Silicon Valley are having a difficult time getting along. They have basically incompatible business models. However, Twitter — unique among Internet companies — has found a comfortable, dynamic middle ground between Big Tech and Big Media. It's now thoroughly common to find a Twitter feed accompanying major news events on broadcast and cable T.V.
What's interesting is that Chernin will be joining Fred Wilson, a partner at New York venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, on the Twitter board. Fred has taken a lead among venture capitalists in reminding the tech community that, even though it won the battle in Washington over Internet piracy legislation earlier this year, the war is far from over. He's also one of the most influential VCs in the blogosphere.
Together, Chernin and Wilson could position Twitter to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley, where content is disdained, and Hollywood, where it's king. This doesn't solve the problem of how Twitter will develop a revenue model that will enable it to keep pace with Facebook and its billion users and LinkedIn and its professional, job-seeking and networking audience. But it's a commendable move that could help two of the most important industries in California finally work out their differences.