I was invited to breakfast with Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, this morning as he promotes his excellent book, Things a Little Bird Told Me, which everyone should buy because its funny, it's a great read and he is immensely relatable.
Biz is very open about his mistakes and the failures that he encountered on the way to his perch above the Twitter verse. One of the recurring themes is the importance that public relations played in his journey. At one point, prior to being hired by Google, Biz was operating as a blogger / consultant and created a company called Genius Labs which consisted of just himself. At some point Genius Labs ended up with its own Wikipedia page and when he was hired by Google, the New York Times featured Genius Labs as a company acquired by Google. At this point Biz remarks; "Wikipedia had a citation and all of a sudden it was part of history that Biz Stone had built and sold a company to Google."
Biz also shared the experience of meeting Mark Zuckerberg when Twitter was in its infancy and Facebook was interested in acquiring it. At one point Zuck asked Biz and his partner to name their price. They gave him a number of $500m which they felt was beyond ridiculous. When Zuckerberg came back with that on the table, they declined, but the offer from Facebook had spiked Twitter’s value in the eyes of the market. The value of third-party endorsement running into the millions in this case.
Whilst Twitter may be perceived as a technology company or a media business, actually Biz’s view is that it is about people and about allowing them to share their passions. People always have to come first. “Success with emotional investment is not guaranteed, however without it, failure is.” is just one of the pearls of wisdom I walked away with.