The Pope's Twitter Feed Runneth Over for Pontiflex

Papal Handle Is One Letter Away From Brooklyn Mobile Startup

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A Brooklyn startup is getting a lot of Twitter traffic today, thanks to Pope Benedict XVI.

Zephrin Lasker
Zephrin Lasker

The Papal Twitter account launched Monday with the handle @Pontifex, so named for a Latin word referencing a member of the ancient priests of Rome. It is also very similar to @Pontiflex, the handle for Pontiflex, a mobile advertising platform and No. 16 on this week's Crain's list of   Best Places to Work in New York City.

Since early Monday morning, the company has gotten between 50 and 75 new followers each hour and hundreds of tweets from Twitter users who have accidentally inserted a letter "L" into what they thought was the Pope's handle, according to Crain's New York Business.

"Suddenly our Twitter started going nuts," said Pontiflex CEO Zephrin Lasker. "Some people are genuinely kind of confused, and other people get it right away and are making jokes. One letter makes a big difference, I guess."

After a few hundred tweets along the lines of , "I wonder if @Pontiflex will do mass over Twitter," Mr. Lasker said the company decided to point people in the right direction.

"We said, 'Thanks for following us, but if you're looking for the Vatican, their handle is Pontifex." Mr. Lasker said it gave the four-year-old company a rare glimpse into the life of a very high profile Twitter account, and the constant flow of positive and negative attention that pours in.

Mr. Lasker said he made up the name Pontiflex from scratch, with the intention to suggest the idea of bridging, since "pont" is the Latin word for bridge. He only later learned of the word pontifex.

"The Catholic Church has billions of followers, and here are billions of mobile phone users," Mr. Lasker said. "I think that 's the biggest similarity between us."

As for the Pope, he's yet to launch a single tweet.


Ali Elkin is a reporter for Crain's New York Business
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