See also Fast Facts on Linux and Apple Twitter happened fast, fittingly enough. In early 2007, microblogging was hardly even an annoying neologism and the startup company built around the idea was just another social media wannabe. Then, overnight, Twitter was the darling of SXSW scenesters, and then after a brief run as an outage-prone curiosity it vaulted to its present status as one of the ten most popular sites on the internet, not to mention a meme-spewing cultural stethoscope. Everyone from Lady Gaga to flacks at General Motors and the kid next door uses the service, which boasts over 200 million registered users and a gaudy valuation that by one estimate is around $8 billion, or $57 million per space in its 140-character messages. Companies that lack a well-planned Twitter strategy are missing out on prime customer intelligence, and forsaking a powerful megaphone of their own. But how did the hashtag and the Fail Whale go from #obscure to #ubiquitous so quickly? Our thumbnail history of Twitter’s vertiginous rise tells the story in Tweet-sized bursts.