Plenty of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs might look to Twitter co-founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey as a model for founder success. But Dorsey? He looks to a different kind of founder — the Founding Fathers — to help understand success.
“An idea can change the course of the company. It can happen and come from anyone,” he said.
Dorsey argued Monday at San Francisco’s TechCrunch Disrupt that anyone can be a founder or have a “founding moment” at a company — not just the folks who originally created it. Dorsey, citing a variety of examples from Mahatma Gandhi to John Kennedy, said it’s powerful ideas that make a difference, which can come from anyone.
“A founder is not a job, it’s a role, it’s an attitude. It’s something that can happen again and again and agin,” he said. “If we stuck to the original ideas of the original founders of this nation, we would not be here today.”
Dorsey, who founded Twitter in 2006 and was forced out as CEO before coming back to serve as executive chairman, noted that he considers a variety of tech superstars founders of their current companies, even if they came to their jobs later in company history.
“Companies exist and evolve over time. That’s why I consider Dick Costolo, our CEO, a founder. He’s really questioned everything that we started with and made it better,” Dorsey said.
He also pointed to Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer as an example of someone who, in his mind, is shaking things up enough to be a founder herself.
Dorsey noted that Mayer wasn’t a founder at Google and certainly wasn’t one at Yahoo, but she “has the context, the drive, the recognition, and moral authority to create another founding moment in the company.”
For Dorsey, it’s all about ideas and creating a revolution, broadening his approach from Silicon Valley to understand how technology impacts the world.
“What we need to do here in San Francisco and here in the world, we need to use technology to remind the world that we are human.”
And for founders of companies that take a turn from their original direction, don’t worry, Dorsey tells them.
“Twitter was not started because we started a company. Twitter was started because we had a good idea.”