DETROIT – When Twitter, the world’s most popular social networking site, announced on Wednesday that it will open an office in downtown Detroit, it was heralded as proof of the city’s continued rebirth. However, it can also be seen as fitting that, since a majority of Twitter users are African-American, that they open an office in the city with one of the highest percentages of blacks.
“We plan to scale our presence in Detroit in order to meet local demand for Twitter’s Promoted Products,” Twitter spokesman Robert Weeks said. Weeks told the Detroit News that a number of Twitter’s Detroit employees will work with the Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler as well as local advertising agencies.
The San Francisco-based Twitter will set up shop in the newly renovated Madison — spelled M@dison — Building, which is owned by Rock Ventures LLC, a company founded by Quicken Loans and Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert. Twitter also plans on hiring more workers in Detroit, and said that job openings would be posted at twitter.com/jobs when they become available.
Gilbert, a Detroit native and Michigan State University graduate, already moved the Quicken Loans headquarters to Detroit. He has been attempting to create a downtown Detroit technology district called the “WEBward Avenue” corridor. Twitter is the highest-profile tech company that Gilbert has lured to Detroit.
“Twitter chose Detroit because of the city’s growing, young and energetic environment,” Gilbert said in a statement. “This is further proof that the country is starting to wake up and take notice that if you want to create a thriving, growing tech business, downtown Detroit is one of the best places to be.”
In an ironic twist, Twitter is opening its newest office in a city with the highest percentage of black residents in the country. A 2011 Pew Research Center study showed that 25 percent of blacks who are online use Twitter, compared to 19 percent of Hispanics and just 9 percent of whites.
The study also showed that, of all Twitter users, 95 percent own a mobile phone and half of those use them to tweet. Additionally, one in 10 black internet users Tweets on a typical day, which is double the rate for Latinos and nearly four times the rate for whites.
“We are thrilled to have Twitter operate in downtown Detroit,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher said. According to Rock Ventures spokeswoman Carolyn Artman, Twitter is already in the process of moving into the M@dison Building.
“We’re excited to work face-to-face with the city’s most established brands and happy to play a role in downtown Detroit’s digital renaissance,” said Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of global revenue, in a statement.
Twitter is not the first company to bring an office to the state of Michigan. Google has offices in Birmingham — a Detroit suburb — and another in Ann Arbor.
“Twitter coming downtown is exactly the kind of innovative company Detroit needs to advance our vision of becoming one of the most exciting high-tech and web-centered corridors of growth and activity found anywhere,” said Gilbert, “Detroit 2.0 is the real deal.”
Follow Jay Scott Smith on Twitter at @JayScottSmith