Magazine article Management Today

Company Vitae: Twitter

Magazine article Management Today

Company Vitae: Twitter

Article excerpt

Its 200 million-odd users now post a staggering billion tweets a week. So how much longer can profitability elude the original micro-blogging business?

Formative years

Back in the mid-noughties, an era so distant in web time that Facebook was still in nappies, Twitter creator Jack Dorsey tweeted the first tweet: 'Just setting up my twttr'. The public service began in July 2006, growing out of an internal communications prototype built by Dorsey for his then employer. Within a year, users were posting 60,000 140 character-or-fewer tweets a day, and Twitter was suddenly one of the hottest start-ups in web history. Dorsey and co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone were besieged by eager investors.

Recent history

It has been through no fewer than six rounds of funding, raising around dollars 350m in the process. Not bad for a business which had no visible revenue stream until it introduced 'promoted tweets' advertising last year and which has yet, as far as anyone knows, to make a profit. Based in San Francisco (where else?), its backers include all the big-name west coast VCs: Benchmark, Kleiner Perkins, Union Square - plus Silicon Valley royalty such as Marc Andreessen, Chris Sacca and Jeff Bezos.

Who's the boss?

Twitter has had more new front men than a superannuated rock band. Jack Dorsey himself was CEO until late 2008 when Ev Williams took over. Then last October, Williams stood down, ostensibly to work on product strategy, and was replaced by current CEO Dick Costolo. Both Williams and Costolo pursued a more commercial strategy than Dorsey, including introducing those aforementioned ads. …

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