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And now the star of the summit, Jack Dorsey, founder and Chairman of Twitter.
Jack starts by taking about dots on maps, creating a dispatch system and how he found a company in NYC called DMS who had a corporate email list that was accessible through a hole in their firewall and how he told them about it and said he could fix it. He then told them about his dispatch system and they hired him.
He moved to San Fran to sell this Dispatch system, they hired a CEO who in turn hired lots of sales people but not enough programmers and they went bust in 2001. He learnt not to lose management control of your business.
Fast forward to 2006 and Jack still held on to this great idea of being able to see where everyone is on a digital map and track what is going on. He built a system on an old Blackberry but no one had the tech so he shelved it. In 2006 the rest of the world had caught up and text messaging worked on every single cell phone, the technology was no longer a constraint. They were working in a Podcasting business but none of them were really passionate about it. Biz Stone developed this new micro blogging tool that ran on text, they started inviting coworkers and eventually had moved so many staff that they went it alone.
Jacks vision was for a product that his mother could work, consumer oriented and easy to use. Their success was having the right team in place at the right time and utilizing that convergence of circumstances to make a successful business.
The business was not expecting to be so successful so soon hence the system kept going down all the time (the whale!) but they weren’t communicating well internally and realized that they needed to communicate the problems amongst their staff which proved to be a turning point for the technology.
The US election proved to be a turning point for the product just as the economy was tanking.
Twitter is now at 165m users. The company has publicly stated that they are now looking at different monetization models. Jack said that they always had these ideas; CEOs are editors who have to edit the myriad of stories into one and sustain this growth.
Jacks vision is for one billion users but this will require a lot of support to sustain, financially and technically.
60% of Iraqis have a cell phone; Twitter introduced a short code 3 months ago that allows any Iraqi with a cell phone to open a dialogue with the world. The ability to effect such change in such places is hugely important to Jack.
Does Jack get frustrated with the endless questions about when they are going to go public and what is their revenue model? These milestones are important as they keep the network alive. Monetization makes the network more powerful, they go hand in hand with the perpetuation of the idea. It is not a gauge of success on it’s own but part and parcel of keeping this thing alive.
You need to be on top of how you pace the story of your company. At the beginning, Twitter was completely open and transparent. With his new business, Square, they cannot afford to go down as it may result in a lost sale for one of their customers. They need to pace and test the product to ensure it can deliver on expectations.
Is it necessary to have a hard product that you can demonstrate when going to investors? Yes, absolutely. When raising capital for Twitter they were talking to people who already used the product.
With Square, it is a completely new industry for Jack but he goes in with the confidence that he can solve the problems that come up. He has surrounded himself with the right people and will continue to choose people to work with who can help him solve these problems.
It is really important for the Founders of a company to lead in a very important, visible role. It is essential to retain that DNA in the company.
Question from the audience: Was the API a major turning point for Twitter? Yes but things like retweets and hashtags were invented by users, not the company. When someone is going to come into your system and use it In unknown ways you need to be ready for it but TWitter wasn’t. Pacing is really important when dealing with such unknowns.
3 things to remember:
Keep money in the bank, maintain the vision and recruit the best team.
How to do you pick the right people? The leaders need to interview everyone. Steve Jobs asks all interviewees “Why are you here?” if you see a spark and that passion in their answer you know youre on to a good thing.