23 February 2014

Why I Read Hatching Twitter

While on a recent trip to San Francisco, my colleague mentioned the Twitter offices to me when we drove through the section of the city where Twitter Headquarters is located, so on my flight home I downloaded Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton and read the entire 600 e-book pages in a single weekend. Why?

Curiosity.  As an avid Twitter user for my work in education, curiosity about the business world and start-ups caught hold of me, especially since I'm working for a brand new nonprofit aimed at transforming education.  Thinking about how Twitter revolutionized communication and interaction motivates me and feeds my curious nature.  A single day in San Francisco left me wanting to know more about the history of tech start-ups.  What makes the ideas for products and services turn into multi-million or billion dollar companies?   Clearly, not every start-up successfully morphs into a money-making, world-changing company, so what happens to the rest of the start-ups that are less successful or that never make it at all?  Is Twitter an outlier in a sea of failed start-ups?   What made Twitter a success?  If someone starts a business following Twitter's business model, will it be successful? 

Okay, so none of those questions are answered in the book because the book is about relationships, drama, betrayal, power struggles.  Plus, Twitter supposedly lacked a real business plan in its earliest years.

Stories.  A conflict filled book based on real life interviews with individuals involved in the founding of Twitter sucked me right into the story about Ev, Jack, Biz, and Noah.  The book includes sections devoted to each of the founders and his story of rising and falling with Twitter. I enjoyed reading the varying viewpoints of each man's ideas for the purpose of Twitter--from individual status updates to connecting with the world and giving equal voice to people from everywhere/anywhere.

Surprises.  Since I had never previously read anything about the founding of Twitter or about starting a technology company, many surprises came my way while reading Bilton's book.  The power of money and investors was new and surpirisng information for me as were the hiring/firing procedures.  Basically, if the investors/board members decided the leader wasn't directing the company the way they preferred, the CEO would be fired, even if he was one of the comany's founders.

Learning Ev Williams was the founder of my favorite blogging platform, Blogger, was exciting, too, especially since the reason for creating blogger was for "to tell stories.  To disrupt media." Twitter is a tool for disrupting media, starting revolutions, building new businesses and electing government officials.  Twitter is also a tool for creating a network--a professional learning network or PLN.  Personally and professionally I have experienced tremendous growth since learning how to use the tool effectively.

Renewed Learnings.
Relationships matter most.
Stories are powerful and important.
Leaders should respect their employees.
Social media is changing the way we work, interact, communicate, learn, sell, build, and connect.