Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

Ev told Jack he had to “chill out” with the deluge of media he was doing. “It’s bad for the company,” Ev said. “It’s sending the wrong message.” Biz sat between them, watching like a spectator at a tennis match.
“But I invented Twitter,” Jack said.
“No, you didn’t invent Twitter,” Ev replied. “I didn’t invent Twitter either. Neither did Biz. People don’t invent things on the Internet. They simply expand on an idea that already exists.”

In 2005, Odeo was a struggling podcasting start-up founded by free-range hacker Noah Glass and staffed by a motley crew of anarchists. Less than two years later, its days were numbered and half the staff had been let go. But out of Odeo’s ashes, the remaining employees worked on a little side venture . . . that by 2013 had become an $11.5 billion business.

That much is widely known. But the full story of Twitter’s hatching has never been told before. It’s a drama of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles, as the founders went from everyday engineers to wealthy celebrities featured on magazine covers, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show, and Time’s list of the world’s most influential people. 
New York Times columnist and reporter Nick Bilton takes readers behind the scenes as Twitter grew at exponential speeds. He gets inside the heads of the four hackers out of whom the company tumbled:
• Evan “Ev” Williams, the ambitious farm boy from Clarks, Nebraska, who had already created Blogger and sold it to Google for millions. Quiet and protective, Ev is a shrewd businessman who made tough choices in the interest of his companies, firing cofounders and employees who were once friends.
• Jack Dorsey, the tattooed “nobody” who helped mastermind the original concept of Twitter, became a billionaire tech titan, and convinced the media that he was the next Steve Jobs.

• Christopher “Biz” Stone, the joker and diplomat who played nice with everyone. As drama ensued, he was the only founder who remained on good terms with his friends and to this day has no enduring resentments.
• Noah Glass, the shy but energetic geek who invested his whole life in Twitter, only to be kicked out and expunged from the company’s official history. 

As Twitter grew, the four founders fought bitterly for money, influence, publicity, and control over a company that grows larger and more powerful by the day. Ultimately they all lost their grip on it. Today, none of them is the CEO. Dick Costolo, a fifty-year-old former comedian, runs the company.

By 2013 Twitter boasted close to 300 million active users around the world. In barely six years, the service has become a tool for fighting political oppression in the Middle East, a marketing musthave for business, and the world’s living room during live TV events. Today, notables such as the pope, Oprah Winfrey, and the president of the United States are regular Twitter users. A seventeen-year-old with a mobile phone can now reach a larger audience than an entire crew at CNN.
Bilton’s unprecedented access and exhaustive investigating reporting—drawing on hundreds of sources, documents, and internal e-mails—have enabled him to write an intimate portrait of four friends who accidentally changed the world, and what they all learned along the way.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2013: Spoiler alert: The subtitle sorta says it all. That is, Nick Bilton’s Hatching Twitter delivers “A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal,” though not necessarily in that order. The book’s four central players–Ev, Jack, Biz, and Noah–conceived of Twitter while working on Odeo, an ultimately doomed attempt to revolutionize podcasting. As their little chick grew, the four men’s personal and ideological differences led to a power struggle that eventually left them all on the sidelines as a former stand-up comedian took Twitter into the uncertain future. Writing with the pacing and veracity of detail of a true-crime book, Bilton makes use of a trove of source material–from internal Twitter e-mails to extensive interviews with and early tweets by the founders themselves–and the result is as exciting and fast-paced as it is topically relevant. If you’re looking for a thoughtful rumination about Twitter as a revolutionary global communications platform, keep looking. If you’re looking for a quick, well-written, thoroughly researched human drama, the story of an utterly dysfunctional foursome and the accelerated unraveling of their once brilliant partnership, this is your book. #HighlyRecommended. –Jason Kirk (@brasswax)

Click Here For More Information

3 Responses to Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

  1. From the perspective of a participant – rabble I’m Rabble, one of the people who helped start Odeo and i’m mentioned a bunch in the first couple chapters. This review might not be useful for evaluating the book as something to read, but i figured this might be a decent forum to provide a review.The story is very well told. It’s a captivating read. It’s very surreal to read about your friends and former co-workers in a book like this. Most of us live our lives only ourselves. Having this book is kind of like having a well researched MTV Rock Documentary about our work, friendships, and time in our lives. I think if you interview enough people, look at what happened in any situation, it’s easy to put a spin and story on things. None of us know the details of everybody else’s life.I wish there’d been more discussion about the technical and models we pulled from to build twitter. Where the ideas came from and how they were put together. It’s very weird to see how much focus there is on people’s drinking, clothing, hygiene, and being broke. That we were pulling from txtmob, the unix finger command, carlton university’s status update system, bike messenger dispatch, blogger, etc… that’s not as sexy a story. That we considered how to look at transitions of mediums from desktop to web, from web to mobile, as a place to create new systems for communications in old ways, isn’t as cool as intrigue amongst friends who ended up creating twitter. There’s a lot of the people and not as much understanding twitter and it’s context.The order of things as they happened and as they are told in the book isn’t the same. This is ok, i think, mostly because the book is about telling the story of twitter’s creation. It’s no a strict chronology. Reordering things makes for a better story arc. There were a number of people not interviewed and i think their story was diminished. Some of us were talked about more because they fit a better story arc.One last thing, i’d say that Twitter’s management problems were due to lack of ability to come together and make a decision, and not the anarchists refusing to follow rules and allow order.

  2. Phil Simon "Phil Simon"

    A Case Study in Machiavellianism Bilton’s book rivals in its scope and unflinching honesty. Through copious research and interviews, Bilton weaves together the heretofore untold story of one of the most influential companies of our times.In a word, Twitter was a complete mess–technology-wise, strategy-wise, and management-wise. It’s amazing that the company is purported to be worth nearly $10B.I like that fact that Bilton pulls no punches, calling out self-anointed Steve Jobs’s successor Jack Dorsey. Dorsey comes across as petulant, egomaniacal, and cunning. I had doubts that he was the second coming of Apple’s iconic leader, and the book only confirmed my suspicions. Biggest myth debunked in the book: Dorsey did not invent Twitter.Excellent read.

  3. K. Corn "reviewer"

    Well-written, suspenseful, and wisely released two days before Twitter’s IPO. Author Nick Bilton conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with both current and past employees at Twitter, as well as their friends and even competitors at other companies. All four co-founders of the company agreed to be interviewed – and so did board members (past and present). I’ve read plenty about the history of the company and still found some surprising information in this book.In addition to interviews, Bilton turned to Twitter itself to help fact check Twitter’s history and the varied personalities behind the company. He also pored through thousands of online photos, videos, and tweets. If conversations with key players revealed significantly different recollections, trails of info found on Twitter could often set the record straight. A smart move on the author’s part – scrutinizing how the founders used Twitter – right down to tweets on the exact days and times when certain pivotal events occurred.From the first pages, I found myself drawn to the details of the power plays and personalities vividly chronicled by Bilton. The first section focuses on Twitter’s founders: Evan Williams, Noah Glass, Jack Dorsey, and Biz Stone. All of them diverse and fascinating. Williams, the farm boy who came to California and taught himself code. Noah Glass, who opens a magazine and realizes he lives in an apartment directly across from Williams (talk about coincidence) and introduces himself by yelling, “Hey, Blogger!” at Williams. Then there is Jack Dorsey, , the “invisible man” who had a significant speech impediment but didn’t let that stop him from eventually becoming so successful that he won Wall Street Journal’s 2012 “Innovator of the Year Award” in technology. And Biz Stone gets his due, noted to have left millions of dollars in stock options on the table when he quit Google.After the fast-paced, yet amazingly detailed, introduction, there is a play by play account of the rest of Twitter’s history, with even more close-ups of the founders and their friends, associates, and competitors. Each part is lively and irresistible. The backstabbing. The irony of a company meant to bring people together but which alienated its founders from one another. The various intrigues. The final part of the book is also riveting, providing an update on Jack, Evan, Biz and Noah. But won’t give anything away here so you’ll have to to read the book to discover which man currently has relatively little money and hopes to be part of another start-up someday. Or which one is worth millions, earning $500K – or more – for a 15 minute speech, yet still drives old cars and dresses in clothing that could easily be found a thrift shop. Another founder is often featured on magazine covers and in media interviews but is portrayed as someone who spends plenty of nights in his “lonely glass castle in the sky.” Then there is the one so affected by his Twitter days – and the power plays – that he doesn’t allow his kids to use iPads, iPhones, or television.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>