Brian Blum
April 15, 2012, Updated September 10, 2012

Identical twins Eytan and Noam Avigdor have been inseparable for as long as they can remember. After they received degrees in computer science at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, they both found first jobs at Intel-Israel. You might say that they considered each other “follow-worthy,” to borrow a term usually applied to the social network Twitter.

So it’s not surprising that the twins are at it again, this time at the helm of Twtrland, a promising new startup that allows Twitter users to sift through millions of other tweeters to determine which ones are follow-worthy.

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The service analyzes a tweeter’s activity in plain English with a few nifty charts thrown in. It is deceptively simple.

When the service was launched last September, an influential Israeli blogger wrote a short blurb about the company and tweeted about it. Within hours, Twtrland was fielding phone calls from dozens of reporters.

The website Mashable posted an article about the company that quickly became the top trending story of the day. That was followed by a series of articles in AllTwitter, MakeUseOf, The Next Web and the Israeli business magazine The Marker, among many others. There were write-ups in 10 languages – all with no marketing; a guerilla salesperson’s fantasy.

“And it all started with a single tweet,” CEO Eytan Avigdor explains, still somewhat amazed at his company’s unexpected trajectory.

Visitors also increased exponentially, from 1,000 after that initial tweet to 300,000 unique visitors a month today. That led to the company’s first milestone, explains Avigdor somewhat sheepishly. “Our servers crashed.”

Keep it simple, stupid

What makes Twtrland so follow-worthy? Avigdor explains to ISRAEL21c: “Before we even started, there were at least 100 other Twitter analytic sites. But I couldn’t use them; they didn’t solve my problem. They give you lots of data through complex graphs and numbers. I just wanted something simple, where you can understand in a minimum amount of time more about a person you might want to engage with.”

Type in a Twitter “handle” (that’s the “@user” text that’s ubiquitous around the web these days), and in a few seconds Twtrland displays such data as how often the user tweets per day and “re-tweets” tweets received, and how often that user’s tweets are “re-tweeted” by others.

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Twtrland also shows what it calls “Famous Words.” These are quotes deemed important by Twtrland’s natural language processing algorithm — mostly based on how many times the text has been re-tweeted by others, although there’s more going on under the hood, Avigdor assures us.

On the right side of every page is a simple pie chart that indicates the proportions of a user’s tweeting activity, displaying visually much of the same information as above.

Avigdor says he likes to follow people who “just write tweets about themselves; their thoughts about their lives. I don’t follow people who put up a lot of links or pictures.” The pie chart provides that breakdown in a glance.

Doesn’t cost a dime

If you like what you see, it’s just a single click to start following that Twitter user. And you don’t even have to be on Twitter to research what someone else is doing (job recruiters, take note). Privacy isn’t a concern, Avigdor assures us: Twtrland only uses publicly available data, which in Twitter’s case is pretty much all of it.

How much does the service cost? Nada. Because that’s not the point. Avigdor says he and his brother built Twtrland in six months and that they’re not planning to update it substantially. Not even a mobile app version, at least for the near term.

The Twtrland website is mainly a business card to get in the door of other small firms, to help them “grow through the marketing power of Twitter,” Avigdor says, “by analyzing data and making connections to opinion leaders in different types of categories.”

Maybe that’s why Avigdor was able to raise a small angel round and why he’s looking for more investment now. The company has a staff of six in its Haifa office, including the twins’ other two brothers. When you’re deciding who’s follow-worthy, you can’t lose by starting close to home.

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Jason Harris

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