Twitter buys BackType to dig deeper with big data

Twitter announced Tuesday morning it has acquired BackType (see disclosure), an analytics platform aimed at helping companies and brands gauge their impact on social media websites. Post-acquisition, BackType will focus on developing tools for Twitter’s publisher partners, the company said in a blog post announcing the deal.

Terms of the deal were undisclosed. BackType, which is based in San Francisco, has raised $1.3 million in venture capital since launching out of Y-Combinator in 2008.

As part of the deal, BackType has already stopped taking on new users for its BackTweets product, which helps publishers track how their Tweets covert to web traffic and sales. In its blog post announcing the sale to Twitter, BackType said it will soon discontinue its BackType product and API services.

It’s likely that a major part of BackType’s appeal to Twitter was Storm, the distributed and fault-tolerant stream processing system developed by BackType in-house. BackType touts Storm as “the Hadoop of real-time processing,” and says the technology “abstracts the message passing away, automatically parallelizes the stream computation on a cluster of machines, and lets you focus on your realtime processing logic.”

With each acquisition and new product development — from the TweetDeck buy to the launch of a native photo sharing feature —  Twitter inevitably cuts into the business ecosystem that started cropping up around it when it was a more single-purpose application. It will be interesting to see how social impact tracking startups like Klout develop their businesses now that Twitter has brought BackType’s analytics capabilities in-house.

Disclosure: BackType is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.