Biz Stone took one of the biggest risks of his life when joined the company that eventually formed Twitter.
In Nick Bilton’s forthcoming book on the founding of Twitter, he tells the story of Stone quitting Google to join Odeo, a podcasting startup bankrolled by Ev Williams.
Williams had founded Blogger, then sold that to Google. He worked at Google for a few years before quitting to do his next thing. With the money he made from the sale of Blogger he funded Odeo.
Stone worked for Williams at Google on Blogger. Stone had cold emailed Williams and worked his way through a number of interviews to get his job at Google. Stone didn’t have a fancy degree from a prestigious university, so even getting a job at Google was an amazing feat.
Prior to working at Google, Stone has bounced from job to job and racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once at Google, he worked off that credit card debt and was poised to become a millionaire.
But he was unhappy at Google. He didn’t like the environment or the people he was working with, according to Bilton. Williams had already left Google to pursue other projects like Odeo. Stone wanted to do the same, expect, he didn’t have a safety net like Williams.
When Stone told his boss at Google he was quitting, his boss said, “You do realise that if you quit now you have to give up all your stock options?”
Stone asked how much that would be.
His boss said, “More than two million dollars.”
Remember: Stone was very lucky to have a job at Google, and was just finally working his way out of debt. Odeo, the company he wanted to join, was a mess. It was not on a path to success. Stone was going to go back into debt. And potentially, he was going to have no job since Odeo was likely to fail. (All startups are more likely to fail than succeed.)
He quit Google anyway.
He went to Odeo, which fizzled, but eventually produced Twitter. Stone worked on the early design of Twitter.
When Twitter was forming into a full company, he asked Williams if he could get co-founder credit. Williams gave Stone the co-founder title, though only 2% of the company.
We don’t know how much stock Stone currently holds in Twitter, but we’re guessing he eventually made more than $US2 million, and had a much better time making it.
It was a risky decision, but it worked out.