Twitter has made its second large Cambridge acquisition in just over a week, buying social television analytics company Bluefin Labs. If, as critics occasionally charge, “Boston doesn’t get social,” social is at least getting Boston.
Business Insider originally broke the story yesterday afternoon, and this early evening Twitter confirmed the news in a blog post.
“We believe that Bluefins’ data science capabilities and social TV expertise will help us create innovative new ad products and consumer experiences in the exciting intersection of Twitter and TV,” wrote Ali Rowghani, Twitter’s chief operating officer. “This acquisition reflects our commitment to the social TV market.”
And it’s apparently a commitment that runs both ways: 50 percent of the Super Bowl’s ads contained a Twitter reference, whether a pointer to a company’s Twitter account or a hashtag viewers were encouraged to follow. By comparison, Facebook had references in just 8 percent of ads, and Google Plus was featured in zero.
So what is Twitter buying? Bluefin Labs has been focused on measuring the somewhat tricky metrics around social influence, particularly in helping crunch what’s known as sentiment analysis: Deciphering and distilling those 140-character snippets into meaningful information about how the public feels about everything from Honey Boo Boo to President Barack Obama. Think Klout with more science and less tackiness, and then go read Neil Swidey’s in-depth profile of Bluefin Labs from last November.
The acquisition comes after the company replaced its former chief executive — MIT tenured faculty Deb Roy — with JP Maheu, an advertising industry veteran, last summer.
Roy has remained with the company as chairman while returning to duties at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The acquisition comes on the heels of Twitter’s acquisition of Crashlytics, suddenly leaving the San Francisco based company with a sizable Boston-area presence.