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When I was a kid a “tweet”meant birds chirping, but now not only has the meaning changed considerably, also it can have a superlative impact on social workers and their“followers”. Twitter is not just helping in sharing news through status updates, it’s also creating news.
Before the advent of Twitter, little did people knew about reading blogs and those who did never heeded them much for information but regarded them just for mere entertainment. In a world where personal opinions and local news never reached to the ears of the masses, twitter formed its own house of media where news flew around the world in a matter of few tweets and re-tweets. Be it important news like Chennai Floods or be it the colour of the dress, twitter has sung them all to our ears.
So how was this not more than 140 characters status update website created?
For the neophytes, twitter is not the brain-child of a single man. Evan Williams is not the sole founder of twitter, as reported earlier by many news channels, but he is surely an imperative part of the team. Later on the channels added the names of other founders yet leaving the name of one of the key founders unsung.
Ex-googler Evan Williams had a start-up called Odeo. It was going to be a podcasting platform.
Odeo’s Expansion was halted when Apple released iTunes podcasting. It was then when Evan, Biz Stone (another ex-googler) and Jack Dorsey (an Odeo employee) were forced to reinvent the whole thing. The company started holding official "hackathons" where employees would spend a whole day working on projects. Rebooting the company started with a daylong brainstorming session where they broke up into teams to talk about their best ideas. Jack first described a service that uses SMS to tell small groups what you are doing. As described by Dom Sagolla, one of the makers, “We happened to be on top of the slide on the north end of South Park. It was sunny and brisk. We were eating Mexican food. His idea made us stop eating and start talking.”
One day in February 2006, Glass, Dorsey, and a German contract developer Florian Weber, presented Jack's idea to the rest of the company. It was a dispatch service that connects a person to his/her friends through text messages on cell phone. Everybody in the group got the idea instantly and was interested in making it. They called it Twttr.
Later Noah Glass, the man behind making of Odeo, suggested the name Twitter.
Evan was cynical about twitter at that time but he put Glass in charge to build a version 0.1.The rest of the company focused on maintaining Odeo.com, so that if this new thing flopped they’d have something to fall back upon.Everyone among the early members agrees that original hunch for Twitter sprang from Jack Dorsey's mind. But it was predominantly Noah who plunged for the project to be started.
“There was a moment when I was sitting with Jack and I said, 'Oh, I do see how this could really come together to make something really compelling.' We were sitting on Mission St. in the car in the rain. We were going out and I was dropping him off and having this conversation. It all fit together for me.”, says McClure, Founder of 500StartUps and Ex-Twitter Employee.
The common SMS carrier limit then was 160, so any update longer than that would split into another message. There were other bugs, and a mounting SMS bill. Thus they settled on 140characters, in order to leave room for the username and the colon in front of the message.
In August 2006, a small earthquake shook San Francisco and word quickly spread through Twitter — an early 'ah-ha!' moment for users and company-watchers alike. By that fall, Twitter had thousands of users.
Odeo's investors didn't like Twitter, so Evan did them a huge favour by buying back all their stock and making them whole. Twitter was then 2 months old and had only 5000 users but Evan by then had the vision that Twitter had a great chance to become the next big thing.
Five years later, assets of the company the original Odeo investors sold for approximately $5 million are now worth at least 1000x more: $5 billion.When the early investors were asked of how they felt after hearing about the success of the company, most of them believe that Williams gave them a shady deal.A few wish that Williams had been more upfront about what he was planning to do next, as they would have loved to re-invest in Twitter.
After buying OdeoEvan surprisingly changed its name to Obvious Corp.What he did next was shocking to all. He fired Noah Glass, one of the key founders without whom Twitter would’ve faintly existed today. Why you ask? The most common answer heard is that the two had clashing personalities. Everyone in the company says so. Basically: Glass is loud and Williams is quiet.
Glass says the whole mess left him feeling "betrayed."
"I felt betrayed by my friends, by my company, by these people around me I trusted and that I had worked hard to create something with. I was a little shell-shocked. I was like, 'Wait…what's the value in building these relationships if this is the result?' So I spent a lot of time by myself. And working on things alone."
The company came through many ups and downs. Not only there were struggles in inventing a completely new idea but also there were in-house betrayals and shocks. Despite such a mess twitter made it through. In February of 2007 Jack wrote something which inspired everyone on board: “One could change the world with one hundred and forty characters.“ In the same year twitter won an award in the Blog category at SxSW interactive conference in Austin, Texas.
Twitter in the year 2011 was awarded the most used site. Today it has more than 1 billion users and a crap load of tweets per day. The story behind the internet giant is not only inspiring but also eye opening.