The book is a fun and fast read for anyone interested in the inner workings and personal relations of the business and startup culture.
While I was reading the book I made sure to do some research online to make sure I would get the real story. And apparently it turns out that author Nick Bilton took some liberty and stretched the narrative a bit to add some extra sprinkles of drama. But who doesn’t like sprinkles, especially when you’re a journalist needing to sell a book.
Twitter is in many ways my second most favorite company. I have spend a huge amount of time with this app while writing over 402K tweets and connecting with thousands of people in my 6 and a half years using the service.
When looking at Twitter’s growth prospects and consequently it’s stock price one has to wonder though how the company will perform over the next few years. And one might rightfully can get concerned. Things don’t look so great, especially compared to Facebook. So when reading the book I was looking for clues, reasons, potential tells, of why Twitter is what it is today.
One thing that sticks out is, that Twitter had many great minds working early on in its inception phase.
Many people instilled their ideas and vision into the product, which made it great and might be a reason for it feeling almost ethereal. Twitter is not just a website one visits to post stuff. It’s more than a platform for communication. But, this also creates a lack of focus, which is certainly telling when comparing Twitter to products that had one founder and CEO from the beginning, whose vision is still guiding the products’ roadmap.
I’ve been pondering this over the last few days, and if Twitter would hit hard times, really hard times in the next 24 months how would Biz, Jack and Ev react?
Would they jump back into the C-level suites and start helping the company find its groove again? Would they be invited back? Could their billions help prop up the stock?
Biz, Jack and Ev have moved on to build their own products, and all three products seem to fit perfectly to their personalities and interests (judging by what I learned about them while reading ‘Hatching Twitter’).
Jack is busy with Square. A minimalist payment solution that feels Apple-like, with grand gestures like the Starbucks collaboration. And yet so many app announcements and changes over the last couple of years that I don’t even know anymore what app is actually available in the app store today.
Biz Stone released Jelly. A quick question-and-answer app, that feels like a first alpha take on what Wikipedia could look like in the mobile age. And although currently all questions one doesn’t answer disappear, I am sure those ‘cards’ aren’t deleted from the server and will resurface at some point. There is a bigger play here we don’t see yet, and might never.
Ev is working on Medium, which combines his days at Blogger with the simplicity of modern online publishing tools we’ve all come accustomed to. In typical Ev fashion the platform exists, yet no one knows what direction it is moving in. I find great articles to read on Medium, especially when I am looking for some weekend reads with my Saturday morning coffee. But is it a CMS publishing platform? A magazine? A conversation tool? No one really knows the answer, and probably Ev doesn’t either. When finally after months of development an iOS app shipped many were disappointed to find out that it’s just a reader for the iPhone. No publishing tools, no iPad version.
All three apps are using Twitter in some way to connect and login the user, market, promote and publish their offerings.
When looking for a businesses’ longevity and future health we often talk about it needing a ‘moat’. A defense strategy which relies in a differentiating factor that helps the business fend off its competitors. A ‘moat’ is something that keep it’s gives a business a competitive advantage that is impossible, or at least very very hard to emulate.
Although all the founders left in their own unhappy ways, I can’t help but think that they are still very much believing in the overall philosophical idea of what Twitter stands for. And when I look at each founder’s current apps, I actually believe that they went off to build moats for Twitter itself.
Twitter is a connector, a communicator, a news ticker, a promoter, a micro publisher, a reader, and many more things.
The apps that are build around this powerful platform are enhancing the Twitter stream and are giving it life beyond the 140 characters. This is just the beginning of what we see being build onto and alongside of this platform and the founders of it are the visionaries, who are showing us how to harness its power and use it for good.