Biz Stone Talks Up the Future of Twitter

Team Twitter
(From left to right) Biz Stone, Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey, co-founders of Twitter. (Photo by Om Malik

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone says his company’s technology will evolve based on what its users are doing on the microblogging site; only then will the company work to add value to the 140-character tweet capability. This philosophy, which Stone explained in an interview with Tavis Smiley that will air tonight on PBS, resembles the “built to learn” mentality lean startups must adopt in order to succeed, a notion entrepreneur Eric Ries wrote about earlier this week on GigaOM. Placing value on customer feedback helps upstarts innovate more rapidly and in real time. Stone said in the interview:

The technology needs to really follow the patterns of what people are doing with it and how we can add more value to what they are doing there. What we hope to have happen is that the technology over time kind of melts away, and you don’t think about the technology anymore. You just think of the tool and how you can best use it.

Twitter’s utility reached a whole new dimension this summer when Iranians took to tweeting in order to voice their opinions without being silenced by the government. But while the site has garnered international attention from people using it in new and creative ways, it also has become a bull’s-eye for attacks. As Stone put it, “You are not a target until you become popular.” The company suffered a two-day site-wide outage last week due to a denial-of-service attack and was hit again on Tuesday. “We worked behind the scenes with folks from Google and other companies to figure out how to stop the attacks and how to better deal with them in the future,” Stone said. Though he noted, “You don’t really stop these (DoS) attacks.”

Meanwhile, other than cutting down on the number of “fail whales” popping up on the site, the big question on everyone’s minds is how Twitter is actually going to start making money. The company made strides in reaching out to the enterprise market last month with the rollout of its “Twitter 101” guide on how businesses can better use the site, and Stone says Twitter will continue to focus on this group by possibly offering paid analytics or verified accounts services to businesses. “We think that because they are getting value out of Twitter, we want to follow that value,” he said. So, keep an eye out for enterprise-focused services coming shortly.