It’s official: The last of Twitter’s founding triumvirate is stepping down from full-time duties at the 140-character phenom. Biz Stone is leaving his job as creative director and teaming up with Twitter co-founder Evan Williams to revive Obvious, the company that originally incubated Twitter. So what will Stone and Williams actually be doing?
That’s anything but obvious.
The newly revitalized Obvious Corporation says that its “thesis” is to build “systems that help people work together to improve the world.” It’s a mantra reminiscent of Google’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” in its scope and idealism, not to mention its vagueness.
In a blog post announcing the move, Stone didn’t elaborate on specifics, and the Obvious website says the founders are not ready to do interviews yet “because we’re not ready to talk about the specifics of our work.”
Stone and Williams, who stepped down as Twitter’s CEO last year when Dick Costolo took the job, are serial entrepreneurs, so it’s not surprising that they’d want to move on to the next thing, especially now that Twitter has become such a success. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey recently rejoined the company as executive chairman, but seems to be spending most of his time these days as CEO of Square, the upstart mobile payments company.
Twitter’s valuation on secondary market SharesPost is nearly $7 billion, which means that the co-founders have become extremely wealthy, at least on paper. Stone and Williams will be joined at Obvious by Jason Goldman, a long-time collaborator and a former VP at Twitter.
The “improve the world” language of the Obvious mission is consistent with Stone’s past philanthropic efforts, which have included environmentalism, animal welfare, poverty, health and education, according to a 2010 profile in the San Francisco Chronicle.
In an interview with the paper, Stone described his business philosophy. “Startups are in a unique position to build the concept of doing good into the very core of the company culture at the beginning,” he said. “This isn’t entirely altruistic. Talented people are attracted to companies where they feel they can do the most important and meaningful work of their lives.”