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Evan Williams takes the helm of the popular micro-blogging site
"Three years ago during my time as CEO of Odeo, I was lucky to be working with a software engineer Jack Dorsey who wasn't afraid to bring up an idea he'd been thinking about for a long time. What if a simple status message was the format for a social communication service? We were exploring various options for Odeo at the time and experimenting with SMS, so the idea was intriguing. Jack teamed up with Biz Stone to design a prototype. This simple idea called Twitter proved increasingly interesting the more we fleshed it out.
After my company Obvious purchased the assets of Odeo which at the time included Twitter from the shareholders, we decided to form Twitter, Inc as a separate company founded by myself along with Jack and Biz. Jack had by then been leading the project for months with Biz's support, and I was intent on pursuing Obvious. With my blessing, the reigns of Twitter CEO were handed to Jack and I accepted a position as Chairman of the Board.
Rising quickly to the challenge, Jack took Twitter through an order of magnitude of growth and two major rounds of financing, while safely navigating some very rocky waters that would have taken even more experienced leaders down with the ship. Jack is a unique individual with a knack for artful minimalism and simplicity, combined with great vision and ambition. We are indeed fortunate to have his guidance."
Jack remains Chairman, said Evan. "We're entering a new phase now and there are new kinds of challenges ahead. Healthy companies acknowledge the need for change even during the best of times. As Twitter grows both internally and externally, we took a good look at our path forward and saw the need for a focused approach from a single leader."
We wish Jack all the best of luck. So, what's he doing now? By the looks of it on Twitter, he's calling his folks.
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What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests.
Where did the idea for Twitter come from?
Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.
How is Twitter built?
Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes.
We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.
How do you make money from Twitter?
There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.
In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet.
At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.
Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.
What's next for Twitter?
We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users.
We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.