Evan Williams leaves Twitter to @jack and co.

Ronny Kerr · March 30, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/18ab

Former founder, CEO and head of product at Twitter leaves former digs to bright, unpaved future

One classic tweeter in, one classic tweeter out.

Just a day after Twitter’s original chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed that he will be returning to the company to head product, another former Twitter CEO, Evan Williams (@ev), announced that he will be playing a less active role in the development of the microblogging service.

In the man’s own words:

After stepping down from CEO six months ago, my mind started to wander. The reason I left Blogger/Google when I did is that I felt it had reached a place where it was on solid ground and in capable hands (at the time, Jason Goldman’s as product manager). Though still an independent company, I realized Twitter may be at a similar point today. So, as was reported in various places yesterday, I've decided to scale back my role at the company. (I'm still involved, but it's no longer my full-time job.)

Many had suspected this to be the case when Dorsey stated, with reiteration by CEO Dick Costolo, that he would be returning to Twitter to lead product. Nearly half a year ago, when Evan Williams stepped down as chief executive, to be replaced by Costolo, Williams had said that he liked the switch because it meant he could focus on product strategy, his self-proclaimed area of expertise. With Dorsey taking up the product reins, however, there leaves little room for Williams.

Though he will no longer be working at Twitter day-to-day, Williams remains on the company's board of directors, so he will no doubt have a hand in the company's major movements going forward.

“I’m not ready to talk about what I have planned next,” continues Williams, in his farewell to Twitter, “but I will venture a prediction about what's next for Twitter: It will be bigger and better.”

As Williams says in his post, Blogger doesn’t really get talked much about anymore, but, even after so many years, it’s still one of the Web’s most potent sources of new and bountiful blogs. WordPress has certainly risen in prominence over the last couple years, but neither is clearly dominant.

So, he’s probably right about Twitter.

All that said, any guesses what Williams’ next big project will be? I mean, let’s look at the progression. Blogger is long-form expression. Twitter is short-form expression. Project #3? Express yourself in one character or less. Welcome to the future.

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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.