By Michael Liedtke
SAN FRANCISCO: The website Twitter is designed to open a window into the lives of people who muse about their activities, give opinions and discuss other things important to them.
Here, then, are insights into some of the key figures involved in Twitter’s creation and evolution into a communications hub that is preparing to pull off the biggest Internet IPO since Facebook went public nearly 18 months ago. The initial public offering of stock is expected to see trading starting today.
• Jack Dorsey: co-founder and chairman. Twitter handle: (at)jack
It has been an incredible turn of events for a former punk rocker who used to wear a nose ring and once considered giving up computer programming to become a fashion designer. Dorsey, 36, is considered among the best-dressed men in technology. He has an affinity for big cities, especially St. Louis, where he grew up. He likes to use Twitter’s Vine app to post short clips of street scenes and his view from airplanes.
Dorsey’s fascination with dispatch systems for cabs, emergency services and bike messengers inspired the idea for a real-time communications system that morphed into Twitter.
• Noah Glass, co-founder. Handle: (at)noah
Glass was one of Twitter’s early architects and even came up with the name, according to a new book that rehashes the company’s origins. But his early role has been glossed over through the years, and exactly what he did is also a matter of dispute. His name isn’t mentioned in the regulatory filings for Twitter’s public stock offering.
• Evan Williams, co-founder. Handle: (at)ev
A former Nebraska farm boy, Williams has been variously described as deliberate, indecisive, taciturn, brilliant and even unscrupulous by those who believe he shoved aside Dorsey and Glass to consolidate his power.
Williams, 41, emerged as Twitter’s largest shareholder by seizing an opportunity that arose as his podcasting startup, Odeo, foundered. Odeo was formed in late 2004 with Glass, then Williams’ neighbor. Odeo initially subsisted on some of the millions that Williams made when he sold an online blogging tool called Blogger to Google in 2003.
• Biz Stone, co-founder. Handle: (at)biz
The self-described dork has a gift for gab that made him Twitter’s most visible face while he worked the TV talk show circuit and handled media during the company’s early years. His real first name is Christopher, but as a child he used to pronounce it “Biz-ah-bah,” based on what he thought his father — an auto mechanic in Boston — was saying when he called to him in a thick New England accent.
• Dick Costolo, CEO. Handle: (at)dickc
It took a joker to turn Twitter into a serious business. When Costolo took charge in 2010, Twitter’s revenue was $28 million. This year, it’s on track to be more than $600 million. Yet Twitter’s losses are also mounting, mainly because Costolo has been spending lots of money to prepare for what he hopes will be years of steady growth. The company has invested heavily in more data centers to ensure the service doesn’t break down as frequently as it did.