140 Characters | How Twitter Was Born

Twitter founders are working on a book about Twitter. The accompanying blog can be found here. Just in a time when Twitter is becoming mainstream….

Twitter was born about three years ago, when @Jack, @Biz, @Noah, @Crystal, @Jeremy, @Adam, @TonyStubblebine, @Ev, me (@Dom), @Rabble, @RayReadyRay, @Florian, @TimRoberts, and @Blaine worked at a podcasting company called Odeo, Inc. in South Park, San Francisco. The company had just contributed a major chunk of code to Rails 1.0 and had just shipped Odeo Studio, but we were facing tremendous competition from Apple and other heavyweights. Our board was not feeling optimistic, and we were forced to reinvent ourselves.

“Rebooting” or reinventing the company started with a daylong brainstorming session where we broke up into teams to talk about our best ideas. I was lucky enough to be in @Jack’s group, where he first described a service that uses SMS to tell small groups what you are doing. 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.

I remember that @Jack’s first use case was city-related: telling people that the club he’s at is happening. “I want to have a dispatch service that connects us on our phones using text.” His idea was to make it so simple that you don’t even think about what you’re doing, you just type something and send it. Typing something on your phone in those days meant you were probably messing with T9 text input, unless you were sporting a relatively rare smartphone. Even so, everyone in our group got the idea instantly and wanted it.

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