I have been asked many times by clients, "Can I buy a Twitter handle ? We need the name."
I say well here is the official Twitter rule:
Username squatting is prohibited by the Twitter Rules.
If your report involves impersonation or trademark infringement, please consult those policies for instructions for reporting these accounts. Please note that if an account has had no updates, no profile image, and there is no intent to mislead, it typically means there's no name-squatting or impersonation. Note that we will not release inactive or squatted usernames except in cases of trademark infringement.
Attempts to sell, buy, or solicit other forms of payment in exchange for usernames are also violations and may result in permanent account suspension.
I believe this policy is foolish both for Twitter and for users who want and or need a handle. It is also foolish to think transactions are not taking place. Why not get some of the action and make it a transparent way for those interested in buying and selling ?
From a chat with Tech Crunch:
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo talked about the state of Twitter as business. Costolo begins the talk dropping some recent user numbers, wanting to give a “complete picture” of Twitter usership.
Costolo said that Twitter.com is now seeing 400 million monthly uniques according to Google analytics, which is up from 250 million at the beginning of the year, “There’s still a lot of people who log into Twitter but don’t use it every day,” he said.
Costolo confirmed that Twitter now has 100 million global active users, which he defined as anyone who logs into Twitter once a month, with 50 million users active or logging in every day. He also revealed that 40% of active users “don’t tweet,” which he defines as not having tweeted in the past month. In addition 55% of active users are active on mobile, which has seen a 40% quarter on quarter growth.
Twitter wants to be available on over 2 billion devices eventually he said.
Attention Mr. Costolo, wake up and realize another potential revenue stream.
Short names on Twitter are very hard to come to by. Many are inactive and some have no page existing.
We looked at Twitter @A to Z
@a San Francisco, CA
@c San Francisco, California
@d Bushwick, Brooklyn
@e Santa Cruz, CA
@g Fayetteville, AR
@h Dublin, Ireland
i Page does not exist
@j San Francisco
@k San Francisco, CA
L. That is all.
@L Here, there and everywhere. Protected but no tweets 2 following and 1 follower
@m Bad Kreuznach, Germany
@N Palo Alto, California
@o No tweets in over one month
@p trailing off, away, offshore.
@Q Tel-Aviv, Israel
@s New York, NY
@t Pacific Time Zone
@v Like L protected no followers no tweets
http://zzmag.com Protected no followers
@z San Francisco, CA
The letter i is registered but no page, I am sure someone would like @i. Many would probably pay for it. Maybe a certain company in Palo Alto would like to add @i since they add i to many a word.
@1 through 21 shows @3 with no page existing, a few have no tweets or have not tweeted since 2007.
You will not find an LL name or and NN or even an LN or NL name such as @a8 or @4n etc...
Twitter could set up an auction system, or a secondary exchange to facilitate the buying and selling of Twitter handles.
No one using a handle should be required to give up a handle. But for those not in use, or for those who want to buy and sell, why not ?
To test another theory of not wanting an account anymore and to make it free for someone else, I sent Twitter an email months ago about a handle I would no longer need. They have never replied and I still control the handle.
Twitter can use another revenue stream. Maybe its time to change the rules, I mean both founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams have left the company. Fred Wilson just sold some more stock and left the board.
New companies will continue to come along and if they cannot get the handle they want, Twitter starts to become a problem and not a solution.