No10's Twitter status worth $250,000?

By getting involved early and enthusiastically in the whole Twitter thing, has DowningStreet earned itself $250,000 of free digital engagement? Well-known internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis (number of followers: 63,000) has offered Twitter a cool quarter of a million bucks – as I believe our American friends would describe it – to secure himself a two-year stay on their list of people you might like to follow when you open a new account. This is, of course, the same list which has done so much to boost DowningStreet’s follower count, now standing at 276,000.
There’s breathless excitement in a piece on TechCrunch:

[Calacanis] wants to lock in the price now because he thinks it is a great marketing opportunity. It is not unusual for people on the suggested list to gain 10,000 new followers every day. That comes to 3.6 million a year, and even if half unsubscribe, that is still a direct channel to more than a million potential customers. Those are customers who feel a connection with you because of the personal nature of Twitter messages.

There’s additional detail in John Naughton’s piece from yesterday’s Observer:

“I was only half-bluffing with this move,” he wrote in his weekly newsletter. “I was 90% sure Twitter wouldn’t take the money and I wouldn’t have to pony up …. However, if they did call my bluff … I would have gotten what I wanted: two to 10 million Twitter followers and the ability to drive one to two million visits to Mahalo a month from Twitter.”

This is a serious entrepreneur, a guy who has made serious money from the internet, reckoning that $120,000 for one year, or $250,000 to cover himself for the likely price rise in year two, was good value to buy something which 10 Downing Street already owns. One wonders, then, whether Francis Maude might want to reconsider his comments about No10’s experimentation with ‘the latest digital gimmicks’?