I started reading this book expecting a startup story - business decisions, growth strategies, hiring decisions, the business ideas that worked and more importantly the ones that didn’t work. I was expecting something like The Everything store on Amazon or In the Plex on Google
However, this book turned out to be more about how the co-founders betrayed each other, their ego clashes and the drama surrounding that. I was a little disappointed but if you like office gossip and drama, this is a great read! My key learning from this book is based on the ego clash between Ev and Jack.
Ev and Jack had fundamentally different views of what Twitter was and each of them tried to build their version of Twitter. Jack saw Twitter as a status updater - a place to say where he was and what he was doing, a place to display yourself and your ego to your followers. Ev, being a shy person, saw Twitter as a medium to share where other people were and what the other people were doing.
I know this might sound trivial but is fundamental in shaping the vision of Twitter - Jack’s vision saw twitter as a status updater whereas Ev visioned Twitter to be a real-time news site. In fact, one of the first decisions that Ev made after taking over as the CEO of Twitter from Jack was to change the text in the Twitter text box from ‘What’re you doing?’ to ‘What’s happening?’.
I felt they failed to set aside their egos to vision what’s best for Twitter. In reality, Twitter was both a status updater and a news site - one would have never worked without the other. A simple status updater in 140-character posts was too egotistical to be sustainable. A news updater in 140-character spurts was just a glorified newswire. The two together is what made it a great success!
Side Note - As I write this, 5 executives (the head of Product, Engineering, Marketing, HR and one of the Vine cofounders) from Twitter have decided to leave the company on the same day. There’s probably more to the story than the one that we read in the press and hopefully another book on Twitter can cover that :)
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