Then Odeo cratered, and Odeo CEO Ev Williams created a new company, an incubator Obvious.
Twitter was the first project at Obvious.
Eventually, Twitter outgrew Obvious and became its own company.
For a while, Ev Williams was its chairman and then its CEO.
Ev stepped down from that job last fall.
Now, Ev has re-started Obvious. Joining him are Twitter’s former product boss guy, Jason Goldman, and a former Odeo and Twitter colleague, Biz Stone.
My career in developing large scale systems that allow people to express themselves and communicate started in 1999 with Xanga. I left after a couple years and got more academic about the democratization of information on the web. Ironically, I wrote two books about blogging. In 2002, I tried to start a microblogging service but have you heard of Sideblogger? Didn’t think so.
When I joined the Blogger team at Google in 2003, my new environment had everything I could possibly want and so much more. It turns out that I would start working with a couple guys who would end up close friends and lifelong collaborators—Evan Williams and Jason Goldman. In 2005, I learned to my surprise that working with Ev was more important than staying at Google.
Ev left Google and I followed him shortly thereafter. I helped him with a startup that didn’t quite work out. We tried to sell it, but no luck. To save the day, Ev generously created Obvious—a company to buy this failure back from the investors with his own money. Jason Goldman joined us and the idea was that we could live our dream—developing multiple projects under one company with nobody to answer to but ourselves.
The assets of Ev’s freshly acquired failure included Twitter—a project I had put much effort into with Jack Dorsey and others. It was something we were endlessly ridiculed for as being “useless” but we believed in it and Evan believed in us so he kept funding us until Twitter started spreading like wildfire. In 2007 Jack, Ev, and myself founded Twitter, Inc with outside capital.
Although it was incubated for about half a year at Obvious, Twitter was now it’s own fast growing company and it demand all of our attention. The company Ev had created started a couple projects but ultimately faded out of the picture. So, for more than 5 years our attention was focused on Twitter as it grew from a “useless” toy to a particularly informative global phenomenon with amazing potential.
The Dream Lives
My work on Twitter has spanned more than half a decade and I will continue to work with the company for many years to come. During this time—especially lately, it has come to my attention that the Twitter crew and its leadership team have grown incredibly productive. I’ve decided that the most effective use of my time is to get out of the way until I’m called upon to be of some specific use.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has been very supportive in thinking this through with me so I can focus on new endeavours while remaining a strategic asset to Twitter. My plan is to take a bit more time to focus on helping schools, nonprofits, and company advisory boards as well as The Biz and Livia Stone Foundation. I’ll still commit part of my time to hands on help with Twitter wherever and whenever I can be of assistance.
As for the bulk of my time day-to-day, I’m thrilled to announce that Evan Williams, Jason Goldman and myself will be relaunching The Obvious Corporation as co-founders. Our plan is to develop new projects and work on solving big problems aligned along a simple mission statement: The Obvious Corporation develops systems that help people work together to improve the world. This is a dream come true!
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