A Brief History of Twitter

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