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A Brief History of Twitter

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Dom Sagolla, formerly of Odeo Corp., corporate predecessor of Obvious Corp., the company behind Twitter, tells the story of the micro-messaging service that has caught the imagination of everyone from from tech mommies to cable news networks, sports stars and Hollywood stars. It has become a source of breaking news and rumors. It is the new pulsating heart of the real-time Internet. It was born at a time when Odeo was facing a rather bleak future:

“Rebooting” or reinventing the company started with a daylong brainstorming session where we broke up into teams to talk about our best ideas. I was lucky enough to be in @Jack’s group, where he first described a service that uses SMS to tell small groups what you are doing.

I remember that @Jack’s first use case was city-related: telling people that the club he’s at is happening. “I want to have a dispatch service that connects us on our phones using text.”

Work on the project started on March 31, 2006. @Jack is Jack Dorsey, until recently the CEO of Twitter. He wrote the version 0.1 with Noah Glass, who showed me Twitter, back when it was known as Twttr, at a party in SOMA in San Francisco. That very night I wrote a short blog post about the service:

Twttr has married Short Code Messaging, SMS with a way to create social groups. By sending a text message to a short code (for TWTTR) you can send your location information, your mood information or whatever and share it with people who are on your social-mob! Best part – no installation necessary!

Thanks to an early jump, I got the @Om handle for my Twitter account. Reading that original post, I am amazed at how much has changed in two-and-a-half years. For Twitter, web has become the primary focus. The company has received a $500 million buyout offer, not to mention criticism for not being able to keep the service working all the time.

As Dom points out, over time, much of the original team from Odeo was let go — including Glass. Odeo became Obvious Corp., and, well, the rest is history. Now, the company is rumored to be valued at $250 million and is on its way to becoming the next hot platform on the web.

My Select Twitter related posts:

1. On Twitter, Followers Aren’t Really Friends.
2. In Twitter’s Scoble Problem, a Business Model.
3. Why Twitter shouldn’t sell.
4. With Summize, Twitter to buy a clue

37 Responses to “A Brief History of Twitter”

  1. well, the good thing that twitter is more live, it is more instant,but then you know, it is just a fad that will pass, as many do. When the media gets inteested in a thing, it means it has more sensation and less value, and this might go with twitter. As some people are comparing google and twitter, well, not many people can touch google. Google will, and has been the prime web presence for most people, and it will stay so.

  2. The College of Public Speaking thinks that Twitter is brilliant. It has given us access to lots of people whom we would like to engage with, find out what they’re doing and see how we can help them, either by offering them free support by means of articles and videos etc, or indeed supply training. Thanks Twitter – Rgds Vince

  3. anonymous

    Twitter Sucks. unnecessary noise and a total waste of time. Imagine how peaceful and calm the world was before twitter.

    There are people driving their cars out there and twittering .. both hands are not on the wheel – they cause accidents, not only do they die but they also kill other innocent people – who had nothing to do with the innocent, unnecessary twit.

    Why do you need to tell everyone and the world – what you are doing? and where you are?

    Birds chirp – get into plane engines and kill people. Twitter does the same. Totally useless. Un-mankind application. $250m for killing people.

  4. OH Yeah …twitter is best thing after sliced bread (Oh I forgot facebook) !! with 200,000 users and a downtime every couple of month and no business plan in sight ………………..its favourite web 2.0 company for funding of VC firms …i am still wondering why economic crisis is so bad ……perhaps giving twitter 500 million is best option now …….all ya folks raise your hand and sing OM twitter OM :-)

  5. Shadowlayer

    What made google hot is that unlike most web companies it does generate revenue, and became profitable years ago.

    Sure, at the beginning they didn’t make any money and were running off VC money as most companies do, but it was popular, and I mean really popular, not a fuzz or a fad which is something people use because it’s the “in” thing.

    Everyone was/is using google ’cause back then it was the ONLY web search service that did actually work, and even today it’s the best one available.

    No one I know from outside the webdev micro-cosmos uses twitter, and most dont have a clue of what it does. But Google? everyone was using it in the first month, in fact my Dad who’s not tech-savvy at all was the one who made the early jump and told me about it.

    Twitter isn’t making any money, has no idea how to, and it’s still pretty niché when compared to other web services. I know we are in a ugly recession, but if this is THE hottest web company right now then we have a bigger problem than the economy…