By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from San Francisco — On “The Tonight Show,” Conan O’Brien used to get big laughs for mocking Twitter as an egotistical stream of mundane updates from celebrities.
But when he got bounced from his late-night gig at NBC, O’Brien could no longer take to the airwaves to reach his fans, so Twitter became his open hailing frequency. He later thanked Twitter “for saving my ass.”
O’Brien isn’t the only one who is tapping Twitter’s mass-media potential. The social network, which will celebrate its five-year anniversary in March, last year signed up more than 100 million people who sent more than 25 billion updates called tweets.
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Twitter Inc. gained another key following in December: investors who competed for the opportunity to pour $200 million into the company, nearly quadrupling its worth to $3.7 billion. The new funding comes even as the company experiments with how to wring sales from its surging popularity and find the kind of business formula that shot up the fortunes of Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.
Now Twitter finds itself at a crossroads, where it will finally have to answer the question: Can it make money?
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