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Dick Costolo of Twitter, an Improv Master Writing Its Script -

Stashed in: Twitter!, Facebook!, @jack, Network Effects, Peter Thiel, Awesome, @scobleizer, @dickc

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The article heard 'round the valley.

"Twitter is full of class clowns and the popular kids — people like Mr. Costolo."

Is that a good thing?

I think so, yes. Twitter is about popularity via social proof; e.g. how many followers you have. Given that they work with so many politicians, celebrities, athletes and the like, it makes sense they have all the "cool" kids. Look at Dorsey / Ev / DickC ...

Popular like Mean Girls?

Mean Girls is a caricature piece. :) Popular like best looking / best athletes and self-absorbed, because that's how kids are in school.

Actually, this is fascinating:

Last year, Mr. Costolo brought back Mr. Dorsey, who left the company in 2008 after he struggled to fix engineering problems that knocked Twitter offline for hours at a time. Such problems still occasionally plague the service.

Mr. Dorsey’s role has since been reduced after employees complained that he was difficult to work with and repeatedly changed his mind about product directions. He no longer has anyone directly reporting to him, although he is still involved in strategic decisions.

They never admitted that before.

Just what I was thinking; maybe he wanted to go full Steve Jobs, like Steve's final days a Apple (the first time) where they stripped him of all responsibility. I wonder why folks say he is difficult to work with?

Most likely he IS difficult to work with. And he repeatedly changes his mind about product directions.

Similar complaints at square? I remember I sent one of my friends who interned there some quora thread....


On the other hand, it's hard to argue with the success of Twitter and Square.

Clearly he's done some things right.


Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and an early investor at Facebook, once said of Twitter: “You could throw a grenade into Twitter’s offices after 6 p.m. and the only person you would kill is the cleaning lady.”

I thought that was pretty funny! How have I never heard that quote before? Popular kids don't work after 6pm...

I don't think that story has ever been published before.

#realjournalism I think it's a good thing Nick Bilton lives in SF now if we get more stories like this.

PS I think twitter would sell, and to apple. I don't think apple would want an exclusive social network partner, but the converse could be a google acquisition.

No, Twitter won't sell any time soon.

They're too expensive to be worth it.

Dick prefers "yes and" to "but":

Those nights taught Mr. Costolo a number of lessons that he now applies to running a company of 1,300 employees. He rarely uses the word “but.” Instead, he says “Yes, and ... ” — an improv principle that allows people to discuss something without disagreeing. He also says improv taught him how to see things through to the end.

Twitter does not care about the techno-enthusiasts:

“The techno-enthusiasts that helped Twitter grow are far less valuable to them today,” says Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner. “It’s the same way that Apple now cares more about the 10 million consumers than catering to the 10,000 hard-core consumers.”

That is my favorite part. I think it's a winning strategy. Ignore the .01% who are hating (ironically by tweeting) on twitter. I know this may include you Adam :), but I think it's best for twitter.

Robert Scoble accuses Twitter of not innovating. He's very bullish on Facebook's improvements but feels Twitter really hasn't changed much.

This is pretty much true:,"What really pisses me off is that Twitter execs who should and do know better don’t realize they’re emasculating the service with no ability to replace the losses with their own apps. After all, it’s the workarounds that brought Twitter to life, back when we first realized how powerful an impact the open message bus would have on world events."

So either they're making a mistake that will kill Twitter, or they're right and the network effects are strong enough.

Unless Facebook makes a major change, Twitter will always be distinct in that it gives you your entire feed with no culling algorithm. That can be a blessing and a curse but it certainly distinguishes them.

Overall, comparing the two may not be fruitful exercise. Facebook is about our lives and our friends and it's easily understandable how it can become a very central part of people's world.

Twitter still seems like a more optional, distant, information service. Quite useful but just not as tied to the most fundamental parts of life.

If forced to abandon one, most people would ditch Twitter in a heartbeat. If one of the two is going to get disrupted by a paradigm shift, it's Twitter. Facebook, largely through the spread of the LIKE system, has become tied in (or metastasized, depending on your opinion of the company) to the backbone of much of the web.

I like the "envelope" concept they describe but I'm unsure whether that's enough of an evolution.

As we've seen with many startups lately, getting to scale is much easier than ever but maintaining user engagement is far far harder. I would be very reluctant to rely solely on network effects vs innovation when competitors have an unprecedented ability to quickly gain users.

Scale without engagement is unfortunately not worth much.

Twitter's value is in the fact that so many celebrities, sports stars, politicians, and brands use it to broadcast to the world.

And yet, there's something telling about which A-listers choose not to use Twitter.

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