The most striking thing about the real story of Twitter‘s founding is the contrast with Facebook’s founding.It seems that Noah Glass is Twitter’s forgotten founder, having come up with the name, played a large hand in building the product within Odeo, and perhaps most importantly championed it hardest when it wasn’t obvious that Twitter would be big.
Glass was then pushed out and written out of Twitter’s history. And Glass simply just faded away and left. He was eventually granted a small slice of equity in Twitter.
Contrast this with Facebook’s founding: Glass has a much, much bigger “moral” claim to being a founder of Twitter than the people who have been claiming a piece of the Facebook pie. Eduardo Saverin provided money in Facebook’s early days but then stopped working on it and even tried to hijack it by adding ads for a competing startup. The Winklevoss twins just happened to have a sorta-similar idea around the same time. And yet, because they sued Facebook and because the US legal system’s process of endless appeal incentivizes settling lawsuits quickly, they had a huge windfall.
In the startup world, people who sue founders who have actually been working at the company and building product are reviled, and largely for right reasons: ideas are dime a dozen and the windfall should come to the people who did the actually hard part of building a successful company. And the ultra-litigious environment in the US is a huge drag on growth and productivity.
And yet… Yet…
It’s highly likely that without Noah Glass Twitter wouldn’t exist, and that Glass got, to use an admittedly inflamatory and imprecise term, “screwed”.
In all likelihood any legal claim Glass would have is expired under statute of limitations and/or the small slice of Twitter equity he was given was in exchange for a waiver of legal claim.
When we reported that a man named Paul Ceglia came out of the woodwork with strikingly plausible evidence that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave him half of “the face book” for $1,000 while he was working on the site, TechCrunch commented that “the lesson is that you should never sell half of your company for $1,000.”
Is the lesson of Noah Glass that you should always sue when you’re pushed out of a startup?
If so, that’s depressing, to say the least.
Our Reporting On Twitter’s Founding:
- REVEALED: The Real History Of Twitter →
- Exclusive Q&A With Noah Glass, Twitter’s Forgotten Founder →
Our Reporting On Paul Ceglia’s Claim:
- The Guy Who Says He Owns 50% Of Facebook Just Filed A Boatload Of New Evidence — And It’s Breathtaking →
- THE FACEBOOK LAWSUIT: Here’s What Happens Next — And Who Is Likely To Pay →
- Zuckerberg Versus Ceglia: A Timeline Of Facts And Allegations →