TechCruch published sensitive internal docs obtained from Twitter in a ballsy moves that could very easily see the sites locked in prolonged legal battles.
One of the docs dealt with internal user base and revenue projections. One revealed a pilot TV show based on the popular service.
The most interesting data point - As of February, Twitter expected their first revenue to come in Q3 2009 (which is now). A modest $400,000 was expected, followed by a more robust $4 million in Q4. The document also shows Twitter’s projected user growth (25 million by the end of 2009), which it has absolutely blown through already. By the end of 2010, Twitter expected to be at a $140 million revenue run rate.
Twitter signalled it would consider suing TechCrunch over the release. On the Twitter blog, Biz Stone wrote:
It's important to note that the stolen documents which were downloaded and offered to various blogs and publications are not Twitter user accounts nor were any user accounts compromised (except for a screenshot of one person's account and we contacted that person and recommended changing their password). This was not a hack on the Twitter service, it was a personal attack followed by the theft of private company documents.Reuters reported that Michael Arrington wrote:
We are in touch with our legal counsel about what this theft means for Twitter, the hacker, and anyone who accepts and subsequently shares or publishes these stolen documents. We're not sure yet exactly what the implications are for folks who choose to get involved at this point but when we learn more and are able to share more, we will.
We've spent most of the evening reading these documents. The vast majority of them are somewhat embarrassing to various individuals, but not otherwise interesting. But a few of the documents have so much news value that we think it's appropriate to publish them.
So is that good enough? I haven't been able to get any expert lawyers on the record. There may be some First Amendment doctrine that would prevent action against Arrington. Right now, I'm not sure what that is and I suspect there may be none.