"We’re fond of constraints that inspire creativity. Constraints inspire us in how we approach the press, how we approach business relationships, how we do everything." Jack Dorsey.
It’s quite sobering to think that someone at the ripe old age of 29 could come up with a such a simple idea, that has the ability to change the very way that we communicate socially. The emergence of Twitter, which is still enjoying meteoric growth, came about somewhat by accident and still represents a phenomenon that is to a certain extent, without direction.
Jack Dorsey, born November 19, 1976, had an idea that eventually morphed into what we now know as Twitter, when he was only 24 years old. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he had already exhibited an interest in software development by the age of 14 and was to invent open source software applications related to taxicab and messenger route dispatching. His initial efforts were picked up by several organizations in his home city and are still in existence to this day.
Following college at the University of Missouri and in New York, he moved to California. At the time, instant messaging was really starting to take off, with AOL’s Instant Messenger service being particularly popular. Dorsey took a look at this and wondered whether he could combine his earlier ideas to provide a service sending status messages. "What if you could share your status with all your friends really easily, so they know what you’re doing, but you don’t want to have to write a whole blog entry or Live Journal entry?"
As time went by and Jack was busy working on a web based dispatch solution, he considered whether SMS text messaging could be incorporated into his interactive status messaging concept. Podcasting service Odeo became aware of his interest and collectively they decided that they should go ahead and build a prototype that was to become Twitter. Dorsey and fellow geek Biz Stone honed the concept in just two weeks.
Evan Williams, a former Google executive, provided investment funding and together with Dorsey and Stone co-founded an operation to host Twitter, Inc. By early 2006 they were ready with the first incarnation, but did not really have an active launch strategy. By August of 2006, however, the word was starting to spread that the service existed and even though they didn’t have a marketing presence of any kind set up as such, Twitter was born.
Since that time, the organization has been focused merely on keeping up. Expansion has been off the charts and it has taken every bit of effort from Dorsey (who was until recently the CEO) and the others merely to keep up with the demand. Every couple of weeks the user base was doubling as people really took the concept to heart.
The very idea of Twitter appeals to the human need to socialize and to keep in touch. As we all lead such busy lives, the idea of being able to send a very brief, 140 character or less, simple status message back and forth has a certain attraction.
To this day, Twitter is still self-funded by Evan Williams and there seems little pressure for them to create a business model, which is completely non-existent at this point. Other investors have offered to buy out the organization and it has been estimated that it might be worth a market capitalization of somewhere in the region of $1 billion. Nevertheless, Dorsey and Stone remained grounded. They want to keep in control of what they are doing. "We’re looking for a very simple investment and a very clear financial base and hopefully enough to get us a way out so we can focus on building a great product."
While they have admitted that they are looking at several different models to help them achieve revenues, their main focus is just growing the service and staying true to the original philosophy. Meanwhile Dorsey has stepped down as CEO to become chairman of Twitter as he considers the implementation of his next brainwave idea.