According to Business Insider, Twitter has acquired Blue Fin Labs, a social TV analytics company. Given how much noise Twitter has been making around social TV, no one should be surprised.
That said, since Twitter owns the watercooler and hasn't exactly been shy about competing with third party offerings built upon the Twitter data ecosystem, it's worth asking why exactly the company bought Blue Fin.
Here are three potential reasons:
1. BlueFin gives Twitter a turnkey SaaS analytics service platform
While Twitter has the core data, building a proven and successful SaaS analytics services business around this data is another story. Much of BlueFin's early efforts have been around developing just that.
Below is a screen shot of one of the measurement capabilities of BlueFin's Signals service. The ability to do advanced measurements of brand affinity by TV show, as illustrated below, is one of the reasons that Bluefin has built an impressive roster of clients so quickly.
Figure 1: Bluefin Labs Signals: Brand Affinity
Source: Bluefin Labs
2. BlueFin has grabbed a lot of early land in the social TV analytics customer land grab
Figure 2: Partial List, BlueFin Network Customers
Source: BlueFin Labs
BlueFin was pretty early into this space, and as can be seen by figure 2, they've been able to lock up a number of TV network customers (over 40 at this point) as well as a large number of agency-side and advertiser side. By buying Bluefin, Twitter acquires an already substantial book of business of both cable/broadcast and advertiser/agencies accounts.
3. BlueFin's patent applications
This may actually be the biggest reason of all. Bluefin filed early patents for measurement of social interest in TV (or, as they call it in their patent applications "time-based media"), and while it's hard to say how extensive and enforceable Bluefin's patents ultimately will be in terms of covering the social TV measurement and analytics space, I think there is a high likelihood the company has carved out some important and enforceable IP in social TV.
I am guessing Twitter saw this deal as a way to fend off potential competitors down the road and avoid any potential litigation themselves.