Twitter's (TWTR) official creation story is roughly this: Jack Dorsey, visionary genius came up with the idea. He was unfairly cast into the wilderness (just like Steve Jobs!) only to return and lead the company to its current glory. Evan Williams was sort of Dorsey's Wozniak; the quiet consigliere. Biz Stone occupies the space only as a sort of a ghost. He's the Pete Best (behind the scenes Beatle) or Brian Jones (dead Rolling Stone) of Twitter. Current Twitter CEO Dick Costolo doesn't really fit into the story at all.
Nick Bilton sets the record straight on all of it in his new book "Hatching Twitter." Bilton described the early Twitter culture as a rollicking, dope smoking, Machiavellian nightmare. Whether drinking with Al Gore or getting high with Snoop Dogg... er... Snoop Lion, the Twitter gang knew how to take the edge off after tense meetings, long hours and persistent overtures from high profile investors and fans.
"Everyone tried to buy this company at some point in time," claims Bilton in the attached clip. Efforts to seduce the founding trio included Ashton Kutcher chatting them up in the presence of bikini-clad Demi Moore, P-Diddy showing up with an entourage and Al Gore plying Williams and Stone with booze.
Some celebs just wanted to hang. In 2011 Snoop Dogg dropped by with his friends for a tour of Twitter headquarters. "They ended up smoking weed and holding an impromptu dance party," says Bilton.
At the heart of Twitter's success is its strange hybrid model. It's not a news wire and it's not Facebook (FB). Twitter is some sort of weird mash-up of between news feed and hang-out. Your friends 140-character updates blend in with Tweets from Katy Perry or @yahoofinance. It's unique and frankly a little hard to understand at first.
Bilton attributes the dual personality to Williams and Dorsey's fundamental disagreement over what Twitter was supposed to be. To Williams it was a place to gather information about what other people were doing and what was happening in the world. To Dorsey, Twitter was a way for users to tell people what they themselves were doing at any given moment.
Eventually the differing views of the world began to grate, particularly when Dorsey started presenting himself (or at least allowing himself to be presented) as the inventor of Twitter. Suffice it to say Williams saw Twitter as more of a communal effort.
Eventually it fell to Costolo to clean things up and get Twitter ready for prime time. For investors the big question is whether Twitter's resident grown-up has the vision to get it to the next level.
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