Friday, September 18, 2009

Tweet Up with Twitter Co-Founder

A Tweet Up at Webster University today featured Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. About 3,000 people attended.

Online: #jackatwebster scrolled on the screen throughout his talk. You can search it to review comments. It was a trending topic today. Or you can read on for the top take-aways.

  • Benjamin Ola Akande, Dean of the School of Business and Technology made the intros. Akande said Twitter had 40 million users… is 3 years old. He said it proves that 1+1 no longer = 2; instead 1+1= countless possibilities. It demonstrates the power of the written word, 140 characters at a time. If Akande were to sum up the impact of Twitter in a single Tweet, it would be “Twitter is 2R generation what the Gutenberg printing press and AT&T were to theirs.”

    Dorsey’s first job was with Mira. He has always loved maps, and at Mira he learned how to put a map on a computer… then add some dots... then move the dots around. He went to the University of Missouri – Rolla, then NYU. In New York, the dots on the maps became caps and emergency vehicles as he wrote dispatch software.

    A few jobs and cities later, he developed Twitter while working at Odeo. They thought it would be “the best thing ever” for teens, but it turned out to be “the best thing ever for old Unix hackers with beards.”

    They weren’t all that good at communicating with the public at first… had some public failures… downtimes with no explanation. But their greatest challenges were internal communications and working together.

    Today, they have 74 employees and generate no income.

    They have become good listeners and editors of that listening. Users have changed the direction. Users created the @ symbol. The programmers resisted at first. Users started using the word Tweet. Twitter hated it. Messages were Updates to them.

    Dorsey believes in 3 concepts, which Twitter helps to enhance.
    · Immediacy
    · Transparency
    · Approachability

    The 140 character limit helps people to respond immediately, and that helps break down barriers. Immediate responses inspire transparency… help you to learn a lot about people. As people are more upfront and of the moment, they become more human and approachable.

    Of course he loves to see people using Twitter to get and stay informed about politics… Obama speeches… Iraq Prime Minister tweets about 3 times a day. When no one knew what was going on, there was mistrust. “Updates” (I’m sure he meant to say “Tweets”) inspired trust.

    What’s in the future? New venture will be announced soon. St. Louis will play a major role… Hints that it might involve Healthcare and or the Financial Field.

    Words of Wisdom: “You have to start.”

    About no income: Dorsey says they are building a utility. As others build products on top of it, they will find ways to generate income. Says Google had no revenue for 5-6 years.

    Naming Twitter: Dorsey wanted to call it “Service Status.” Since messages were going to cell phones, which would cause them to vibrate, it was knicknamed “Twitch.” Noah Glass, the founder of Odeo, took the word “Twitch” and looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary… then started looking down the page, where he found “Twitter: short, inconsequential burst of information” and Twitter was named. (Notice no market research involved.)

    The Fail Whale: Was just a placeholder that stuck. Takeaway. Right place, right time (or maybe wrong place, wrong. time?

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