The reputation of Twitter co-founder
Jack Dorsey took a big hitwhen New York Times reporter Nick Bilton published an excerpt from his forthcoming book on the founding of Twitter.
In the excerpt, Dorsey was portrayed as a vindictive, narcissistic dilettante, who took much too much credit for the founding of Twitter.
Dorsey has responded to the excerpt from Bilton with his own take on his early days at Twitter, via a long New Yorker profile. The most interesting bit in the 11-page profile comes when Dorsey is asked if he was behind the ouster of Ev Williams at Twitter.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, Dorsey was the first CEO of Twitter. He had never run a company, and struggled to learn the ropes. He would frustrate coworkers and investors by failing to deliver a vision for Twitter, and by knocking out of work early to attend fashion, yoga, and drawing classes, according to Bilton.
Eventually, Williams pushed Dorsey out of the company, taking on the role of CEO for himself. Dorsey, in Bilton’s telling, was very hurt by Williams, and over time planted seeds of doubt about Williams and pushed him out of the CEO slot.
Dorsey was asked if he worked to get Williams forced out of the CEO role. He tries to downplay his power, but he admits there’s something to the idea that he wasn’t fond of Williams.
Here’s the New Yorker:
He was deeply hurt. He says of Williams, “He didn’t want to be C.E.O., and then he did.” Williams insists that he prefers starting companies to running them, and that he took action only because Dorsey was in over his head. In his view, Dorsey simply wasn’t ready to be a C.E.O. Neither was Williams, it turned out — in 2011, he was removed by Twitter’s board. Williams’s allies believe that Dorsey engineered his ouster. Biz Stone says, “They think he worked on the board for two years, like the Count of Monte Cristo, to get his revenge.” Dorsey insists that he was not the cause. When he left the C.E.O. job, he ceded his voting rights to Williams. “I didn’t have that much control,” Dorsey says. “He was the largest shareholder.” But Dorsey acknowledges that he may have been working to turn the tables. “I was chairman,” he says. “Many people were coming to me. I would say, ‘You should bring that up with the board, not just to me.’ ” He adds, “Was I thinking, Screw Ev? Emotionally, was I asking that? I don’t know. Maybe.” After Dick Costolo, a Twitter executive, was promoted to C.E.O., Dorsey resumed an active role at the company.
Note that Dorsey says, “Was I thinking, Screw Ev? Emotionally, was I asking that? I don’t know. Maybe.”
That’s not a denial by any stretch. At the same time, so what? This only makes Dorsey human.
There’s no denying Twitter was, at least in part, his idea. He was pushed out of the company, which really hurt.
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