This week CIRA*, the organization behind the .ca domain, held its annual general meeting and symposium in Ottawa, and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone was the closing keynote speaker.
He told the crowd made up of Internet geeks, social media enthusiasts and business professionals about how Twitter was born in 2006. At the time his business associates weren’t convinced of the usefulness of a tool that would let friends communicate through only short text messages. They said the idea was too simple.
But Twitter was launched anyway, and before long there was a steady stream of users signing up. Then, the sign ups came flooding in resulting in plenty of site crashes and long timeouts (remember the Fail Whale?)
Biz Stone remembers looking at a weekly traffic report one day and noticing a huge spike for a particular day. He was shocked to discover the sole reason for the spike what that on that day, the site hadn’t crashed even once.
Soon Twitter came to the attention of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who offered Biz and co-founder Jack Dorsey $500 million for the company, which was at the time valued at $25 million. They turned the offer down. (Editor’s note: I’d have taken the cash!).
And the rest, as they say, is history. Twitter is now one of the world’s top three social networks and is used by people from all walks of life from the President of the United States of America, to major Hollywood celebrities, to revolutionaries and freedom fighters around the world to children and senior citizens. It is transforming the global media and publishing industries and turns ordinary people into philanthropists.
Two items of note about Biz Stone’s speech. Firstly, the man speaks in 140 character tweetable sound bites. And for those who can’t get their thumbs going quickly enough to keep up, he posts the expected tweet on his presentation slide. This tactic proved to be highly effective as seen in these Storified tweets.
Secondly, much to the embarrassment of the audience, a couple of people felt it was appropriate to use the Q&A for user support issues. I guess there’s always the risk wherever Biz speaks, but it seems a great waste of an opportunity with so little time was left for Biz to take questions.
*Full disclosure: CIRA is client of Thornley Fallis Communications.