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5 Striking Revelations From Bilton's Twitter Book

From corporate infighting to Jack Dorsey's incompetence, Nick Bilton's forthcoming book about Twitter promises no shortage of epiphanies.
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Today, The New York Times posted an excerpt from Nick Bilton's forthcoming book, Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal. It's a riveting read, with no shortage of executive infighting and revelations about Jack Dorsey, who quickly became lead engineer at Twitter and helped push co-founder Noah Glass out. 

Here are five of the most interesting nuggets from the excerpt, including other names the founders kicked around before they settled on Twitter and the time Dorsey fired off a very self-centered company-wide email.

It wasn't entirely Dorsey's idea. 

Dorsey envisioned Twitter as a service for posting status updates along the lines of "in bed" and "at work." But Noah Glass, Odeo's co-founder, believed it was destined for more. "This status thing wasn’t just about sharing what kind of music you were listening to or where you were," Bilton writes. "It could be a conversation. It wasn’t about reporting; it was about connecting." 

It was almost called Vibrate. 

Another rejected name? Friendstalker. Glass actually considered the name Vibrate because that's what his cell phone did when its ringer was switched off. "He dismissed that too, but he continued through the “Tw” section of the dictionary: twist, twit, twitch, twitcher, twitchy . . . and then, there it was," writes Bilton. "The light chirping sound made by certain birds" fit the bill.

Jack Dorsey wasn't the most loyal guy. 

For whatever reasons, he wanted Glass out, which was no issue for Williams considering Glass's erratic behavior and growing anxiety. One day, Dorsey gave Williams an ultimatum: Either Glass leaves or I do. After Williams gave Glass the choice of either six months severance or being publicly fired, Glass vented to Dorsey, who acted surprised and blamed it on Williams. 

Nor was he the best manager. 

When asked to send a company-wide email stating Twitter's goals, Dorsey began every sentence with "I" and used the off-putting subject line, "3 Things I Want for Twitter (Goals)." He had a bad habit of punching out around 6 p.m. and "pushed people to use Twitter over text message, which produced a monthly bill for the company approaching six figures," writes Bilton. Worse still, "Dorsey had also been managing expenses on his laptop and doing the math incorrectly ... On Dorsey’s watch, Twitter, which had never been completely upgraded from its prototype, was suffering major infrastructure problems that regularly knocked the site offline for hours at a time." 

Facebook almost bought Twitter. 

When Dorsey was finally pushed out of the company, he briefly considered going to Facebook. There was just one problem: The social network wanted to buy Twitter. When Dorsey shared the news over the phone with Mark Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg asked if there was a way to prevent the firing to save the deal. Dorsey was shocked, but assured him there wasn't. After that, writes Bilton, "Zuckerberg switched his plan from trying to buy Twitter to trying to hire Dorsey." 

Last updated: Oct 9, 2013

JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer

Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.




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