Twitter's Road To $1 Billion



[image url="http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4ac25b74719fd1105398e7fc/image.jpg" link="http://www.businessinsider.com.au/twitters-road-to-1-billion-2009-9/circa-2000-2001-jack-dorsey-comes-up-with-an-idea-1" caption="" source="" alt="" align="left" size="xlarge" nocrop="true" clear="true"]
Twitter didn’t become a billion-dollar company last week thanks to any single event or innovation.It took a combination of small, crucial moments, whopping momentum changers, and assists from others.

Click here to see the milestones on Twitter’s road to $1 billion →

Sometimes help came from the strangest places — like Iran. Twitter wouldn’t be where it is now if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hadn’t seemed to steal Iran’s elections in June 2009.

When rioters took to Twitter to organise their protests on Tehran’s streets, it kept the company in international headlines for weeks on end.

On at least two occasions, help for Twitter came from the gods.

In August 2006, a small earthquake in San Francisco — and the rush of Tweets that followed — woke Twitter users to the service’s possibilities as a breaking news outlet.

In January 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone — the perfect device for Tweeting.

For us, the road to Twitter’s $1 billion milestone can be marked by 22 crucial milestones. They are:

  • circa 2000 – 2001, Jack Dorsey comes up with an idea
  • May 2006, Twttr launches
  • May 2006, Twitter’s first tweet
  • July 2006, TechCrunch covers Twttr
  • August 2006, Users tweet about a San Francisco earthquake
  • Fall 2006, Twttr becomes Twitter
  • January 2007, Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone
  • January 2007, Twitteriffic launches
  • March 2007, Twitter dominates SXSW
  • July 2007, Twitter raises $1 million at a $5 million valuation
  • October 2007, Google acquires Jaiku
  • Winter – Spring 2008, Twitter fails a lot — recovers
  • May 2008, Twitter raises $22 million
  • November 2008, President-elect Barack Obama thanks his Twitter followers
  • November 2008, Shaq joins Twitter
  • Fall 2008, Facebook tries to acquire Twitter
  • February 2009, Twitter raises $35 million
  • April 2009, CNN acquires Twitter account CNNbrk
  • April 2009, Oprah joins Twitter
  • June 2009, Iran riots over elections
  • September 2009, Twitter raises $100 million at a $1 billion valuation

Click through to read about them →

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[slide
permalink=”circa-2000-2001-jack-dorsey-comes-up-with-an-idea-1″
title=”circa 2000 – 2001, Jack Dorsey comes up with an idea”
content=”These pages now hang framed in Twitter’s offices. Cofounder Jack Dorsey told the L.A. Times he drew them up around 2000 or 2001.

‘It was crystallizing the thought: What if you have LiveJournal, but you just make it more live? You have these people watching your journal, but it all happens in real time, and you can update it from anywhere. That document was an exploration of that concept.'”
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[slide
permalink=”may-2006-twttr-launches-2″
title=”May 2006, Twttr launches”
content=”Before it was Twitter, Twitter was Twttr. It was also green and white before it was blue and white.

Jack Dorsey explains says name about because ‘We wanted to capture [a] feeling: the physical sensation that you’re buzzing your friend’s pocket. It’s like buzzing all over the world.’

The Twttr to Twitter transition actually has to do with (now) old-fashioned telephone keypads.

‘In order to operate SMS you need the short code to operate with this cellular administration. So we were trying to get ‘twttr’ — because we could just take out the vowels and get the 5-digit code. But unfortunately Teen People had that code — it was ‘txttp’ [Text TP]. So we just decided to get an easy-to-remember short code [40404], and put the vowels back in.'”
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[slide
permalink=”march-2006-twitters-first-tweet-3″
title=”March 2006, Twitter’s first tweet”
content=”We would have gone with something clever and allusive like ‘@Ev, Come Here. I need you.’ But for Twitter’s first message ever, Jack chose to simply answer the question Twitter still asks its users today: ‘What are you doing?'”
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[slide
permalink=”july-2006-techcrunch-covers-twttr-4″
title=”July 2006, TechCrunch covers Twttr”
content=”Reviewing Twitter for the first time in July 2006, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington gave the service ‘a thumbs up for innovation and good execution on a simple but viral idea.’

Commenter Justin doesn’t look so precient in retrospect, having written, ‘I think this is the dumbest thing ever! Who would want all their personal text messages on a public website for anyone to read and track?'”
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[slide
permalink=”august-2006-users-tweet-about-a-san-francisco-earthquake-5″
title=”August 2006, Users tweet about a San Francisco earthquake”
content=”When a small earthquake shook San Francisco in August 2006 and word quickly spread through Twitter, it was an early ‘ah-ha!’ moment for users and company-watchers.

It might have been the first time people realised Twitter might be good for something more than saying what kind of sandwich was for lunch.”
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[slide
permalink=”fall-2006-twttr-becomes-twitter-6″
title=”Fall 2006, Twttr becomes Twitter”
content=”Twitter began looking like it looks now in Fall 2006.”
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[slide
permalink=”january-2007-steve-jobs-introduces-the-iphone-7″
title=”January 2007, Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone”
content=”Twitter was built for old-fashioned SMS, but because the service is all about link and photo-sharing, it works best on tiny, mobile computer. Apple put 50 million of those on the market starting in January 2007.”
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[slide
permalink=”january-2007-twitterrific-launches-8″
title=”January 2007, Twitterrific launches”
content=”Twitter hasn’t updated its design much at all since Fall 2006. Instead, it lets third-parties developers build new and better ways for users to interact. One of those developers is The Iconfactory, which first launched its popular and award-winning Twitter app Twitterrific in January 2007. Today, dozens of companies make dozens of Twitter apps, for computers, set-top boxes, phones, etc.”
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[slide
permalink=”march-2007-twitter-dominates-sxsw-9″
title=”March 2007, Twitter dominates SXSW”
content=”Twitter adoption hit another gear during 2007’s SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas as geeks flocked to the service to organise impromptu parties.

From the conference, Valleywag’s Nick Douglas wrote: ‘One-line one-to-many messaging service Twitter is aflame during the South by Southwest Interactive conference. The techies, bloggers, and various citezenry-of-media are pumping the service with constant web, IM and SMS messages.’

‘Twitter staffers Jack and Alex tell me that the site, which normally carries around 20 thousand messages a day, broke 60 thousand a day this weekend. This traffic boost should add a strong layer of new permanent users. In the next year, Twitter could make a Facebook-sized blowup among the general public.’

At the end of SXSW, Twitter walked away with a lot more buzz and even some hardware, picking up a SXSW Web Award in the “Blog” category.

Photo: Scott Beale
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[slide
permalink=”july-2007-twitter-raises-5-million-10″
title=”July 2007, Twitter raises $5 million.”
content=”Twitter launched as a product of another company, Odeo. But Odeo’s founders saw its potential and bought out their own investors before launching Twitter as its own company.

That meant Twitter needing funding.

It got some from A-listers starting in July 2007 when Union Square Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Marc Andreessen, Dick Costolo, Ron Conway, and Naval Ravikant invested $5 million.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said Twitter raised $1 million. It raised $5 million.”
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[slide
permalink=”october-2007-google-acquires-jaiku-11″
title=”October 2007, Google acquires Jaiku”
content=”By acquiring Jaiku in October 2007 and then ignoring it til shutting it down in Winter 2009, Google spared Twitter fierce competition over users.”
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[slide
permalink=”winter-spring-2008-twitter-fails-a-lot-12″
title=”Winter – Spring 2008, Twitter fails a lot”
content=”Twitter users got to know the Twitter Fail Whale very well during Spring 2008, as Twitter surged with popularity and neearly caved under the pressure.

The whale still comes to visit sometimes, but not as often since Twitter quit handling messages with a Ruby server and switched to software written in Scala.”
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[slide
permalink=”may-2008-twitter-raises-22-million-13″
title=”May 2008, Twitter raises $22 million”
content=”Prominant venture capitalist Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital joined new and old investors in writing Twitter a $22 million check in May 2008. Early rumours pegged the valuation at $80 million.”
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[slide
permalink=”october-2008-twitter-ceo-jack-dorsey-steps-down-14″
title=”October 2008, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey steps down”
content=”Some said it was because Twitter wasn’t scaling properly and some said it was because Twitter still wasn’t making money, but it October 2008, Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO and cofounder Ev Williams took over.

Said third cofounder Biz Stone: “We had two very strong leaders here and we really needed to choose one.’

The company survived.”
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[slide
permalink=”november-2008-president-elect-barack-obama-thanks-his-twitter-followers-15″
title=”November 2008, President-elect Barack Obama thanks his Twitter followers”
content=”During the 2008 Presidential election, Twitter’s profile rose with Barack Obama’s. That candidate and others made it a central part of their grassroots efforts.”
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[slide
permalink=”november-2008-shaq-joins-twitter-16″
title=”November 2008, Shaq joins Twitter”
content=”Shaq wasn’t the first celebrity to join Twitter when he signed up in November 2008. But he’s been the best.

His joining was beginning of transformation of Twitter from a geek service to something bigger and more mainstream.”
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[slide
permalink=”fall-2008-facebook-tries-to-acquire-twitter-17″
title=”Fall 2008, Facebook tries to acquire Twitter”
content=”The old line is that something’s worth what someone is willing to pay for it. In Fall 2008, Facebook offered $100 million in cash and $400 million in stock to acquire Twitter. Twitter turned the offer down.”
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[slide
permalink=”february-2009-twitter-raises-35-million-18″
title=”February 2009, Twitter raises $35 million”
content=”Following the Facebook offer, VCs beat down Twitter’s door in February 2009 to hand it another $35 million, this time at a $250 million valuation.”
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[slide
permalink=”april-2009-cnn-acquires-twitter-account-cnnbrk-19″
title=”April 2009, CNN acquires Twitter account CNNbrk”
content=”In April 2009, CNN found itself in a high-profile race to one million Twitter followers with C-list celebrity Ashton Kutcher.

CNN eventually lost, but it only had a chance because it opened its wallet and bought Twitter account @CNNbrk from a user who had hooked the account up to CNN’s RSS feed months before.

The story demonstrates how quickly Twitter went from being a service mainstream media ignored to one it couldn’t live without in Spring 2009.”
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[slide
permalink=”april-2009-oprah-joins-twitter-20″
title=”April 2009, Oprah joins Twitter”
content=”‘The Oprah Effect’ came to Twitter in April 2009. The traffic followed in a huge way.”
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[slide
permalink=”june-2009-iran-riots-over-elections-21″
title=”June 2009, Iran riots over elections”
content=”When rioters protesting Iran’s elections took to Twitter to get their message out and organise for several weeks in June, the service became nightly international news. The hype hasn’t slowed since.”
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[slide
permalink=”september-2009-twitter-raises-100-million-at-a-1-billion-valuation-22″
title=”September 2009, Twitter Raises $100 Million at a $1 Billion valuation.”
content=”Jackpot!”
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[slide
permalink=”if-you-liked-twitters-road-to-1-billion-youll-love-23″
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[/slideshow]

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