Understanding Twitter

Twitter is one of the most misunderstood companies I've ever worked with. When you are in the inside, or close to the inside, and you see what people write, it makes you shake your head.

Yesterday Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, was interviewed by Peter Kafka on stage at the D: Dive Into Media conference. Here's a 13 minute edit of that interview that I watched this morning. I think Dick does a great job of addressing much of the misinformation that has been written about Twitter this past few weeks.

I've worked with Dick since he was the co-founder and CEO of our former portfolio company Feedburner. I worked closely with Ev Williams to convince Dick to join Twitter and I am incredibly happy and also quite proud to see how good of a job he is doing running Twitter.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Humberto

    nope. i still have a hard time understanding (justifying) the existence of twitter. maybe i’m just plain dumb

    1. fredwilson

      do you use it? most people i know who use it for a while come to understand why its so great

      1. Humberto

        i have used it in different lives. mostly during my mba time at hbs, where commenting/twitting on classes was frequently encouraged and clearly there was an audience for similarly minded people who didn’t have to talk in full text to add bits of ideas here and there.. (once i even put you, fred, on the spot on a class.. arguing 4sq was miserable as an app platform. and it still is, which is the point anyways).but unless you’re that well connected with many similar minded people, and have the same mission, then twitter loses value. it becomes a hoarders’ digital locker for precious bits of information – which is good already.twitter is a facilitatorits in the backseat of everythingit never did something wrong, but annoys me 😀

        1. pointsnfigures

          You might be missing the point of twitter.  Think about what interests you?  What do you want to engage in?  Then search for it on Twitter and begin to follow people with similar interests.  Maybe it’s as simple as fly fishing.  Why wouldn’t a fisherman tweet what flies are hatching? Helps you know what to use.  Then you tweet if it worked or not.  Can be a lot more complex too.  Coordination of groups (Egypt), sharing of important information (MF Global theft of customer funds, company earnings and reaction to them)It’s all there.  Twitter is a flexible tool, a boy scout knife that you use to get information you want.  

          1. Humberto

            too flexible, too undefined.

          2. Rohan

            You would not be wrong if you said that about ‘life’ as well.. 🙂

          3. Humberto

            @rrohan189:disqus  agree. i like life undefined. but technology is the order in my chaos.i need it to be like that.twitter just seems to spread my persona further… you can curate people, but topics will still be difused…

          4. jbcolme

            which is great!I’m starting to use it. I first opened the account, and didn’t get it. Then, a few weeks ago, I opened it again. And decided to follow people that were talking about things that I was interested in, like @ericries and @fredwilson:disqus . Boom. A world opened before.I mean, I could actually send a message to the author of the book I was reading, in a couple of seconds. And it’s not email. You can actually follow this person.Awsome.I think we tend to over think things. Beautiful things are simple.It’s like a mathematical theorem. It only says what it says, it doesn’t say what it doesn’t say. Maybe it’s a short theorem, but on which you can build a cathedral upon.To me twitter it’s so simple, yet, profound. And I like that.

        2. Brad

          I have also tried twitter in multiple different areas. I have tried launching a business and tried using it for personal use. I still do not understand it. It still feels like a way for people to get news or follow celebrities. I do not follow celebrities and after reading avc.com, realclearpolitics.com, I get enough.I may be on the outside looking in, but I can not get attached to it like so many others have done.

        3. Ryan from GroupTweet

          Seems people on discussions boards either “get” Twitter or they don’t. However w/ 100 million ACTIVE users, my money is on Twitter being here to stay.  A long term company that will provide value for its shareholders and shape the world as it happens.The best description I’ve heard is when Jack described Twitter as “The World in your pocket”.  Whereas Facebook is more like an echo chamber consisting mainly of people in your direct social graph, Twitter provides the opportunity for you to seek out individuals and conversation that might otherwise never be available.  As Dick said in the video, its amazing how Twitter can flatten the world and bring people together.  I believe Twitter is actually more valuable for people that are not already connected with similar minded people.  As it provides the opportunity to reach out and connect with people that you may otherwise never have the chance to meet or engage in conversation.

  2. Sheamus

    I think Costolo himself has also been misunderstood in the past. He comes across well here – and even better in Twitter’s recent spoof recruitment video – showing a sense of humour and grounding that I think might not have been so obvious at Twitter before.

    1. fredwilson

      ah, there’s the video that truth_power referred to above. thanks!

    2. jason wright

      I agree. I’ve seen him in earlier interviews as Twitter CEO where he’s been incredibly tense and stressed and uber defensive. I get the feeling from this interview that he’s been receiving coaching. What we never get to see is how these interviews are arranged beforehand between interviewer side and interviewee side, the ‘terms’. When a company becomes this big the number of PR people grows with it in direct proportion to the ‘stakes’. He did better this time around. He just needs to become that little bit more relaxed and then he’s got it. It’s not easy being up there to be shot at.

      1. fredwilson

        not the least bit easy. his strengths are that he’s decisive, 100% in all the time, and funny. he used to be a standup comedian. worked with some of the best comedians in the business.

  3. truth_power

    twitter’s recruiting video is so smart and funny and perfectly tuned to its audiencejust like twitter

    1. fredwilson

      i have to go find that. i have never seen it.

      1. laurie kalmanson

        it’s awesome. here you gohttp://mashable.com/2012/01…@fakegrimlock:disqus  tweeted it the other day as the best video ever@FAKEGRIMLOCK: WHERE YOU SHOULD GET JOB? TWITTER. THIS GREATEST RECRUITING VIDEO OF ALL TIME TELL YOU WHY: http://t.co/8009ASJf #fb

        1. fredwilson

          just saw it. it’s great when a company has a sense of humor

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  4. truth_power

    twitter can be so many things

  5. Maneesh

    Fred – I wanted to share this blog post on Facebook….no share/like buttons though — is this intentional?

    1. fredwilson

      this is the All Things D player. i don’t know it well. try the “tools” button while the video is playing, that opens up some options

  6. laurie kalmanson

    twitter is so many things– community: crises, disasters– promotion: events, products, brands– news and information: #ongoing #topics– personal ap wire: people tweeting to their communities as editors/curators– personal/public: friends @ friendsi have just about abandoned my facebook account and use twitter in pretty much all these ways

    1. fredwilson

      so little and so much

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        Yes –  it is all about better and better filters and dashboards!

    2. JamesHRH

      real time. direct. of interest.Pretty good triad.

      1. laurie kalmanson

        curated or floodgates,  either or both, the user chooses

    3. Reddy_s

      WOW  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!This is ALL  Twitter is all about !!!!

  7. Maneesh

    “we’re gonna build a  decades long lasting business”. don’t hear that EVER in startup-land 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      scott heiferman (meetup.com) pretty much closed me without ever trying by saying at an event we were both at that he sees meetup.com as a “20 year project”. we had to invest after i heard that.

      1. John Best

        I think this gets overlooked at lot, and seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon. The coverage (from the various reports) is that tech startups *explode*. You look at startups that have these terrific upticks in interest and the short time they’ve managed to achieve it in, and it almost becomes an expectation. There seems to be a mental divorce between creating a startup, and having a business that will be an entity in anything other than the short term  (certainly on the consumer side, maybe enterprise is different).I remember on Uncrunched.com writing about Chris Dixon’s Hunch, Michael Arrington described the three years since its inception as a “long time”. It’s almost (and this isn’t directed at Hunch) like a lot of these startups are trying to pitch themselves as outsourced product development, ready for acquisition. With a good enough idea, and quick enough traction, who needs to worry about where the company will be in 5 years – it’ll have been acquired.  With a perception like that, is it any wonder that cities/governments believe they can create a local “Silicon Whatever” overnight? The emphasis is completely wrong (why would you want to clone that quick-flip culture?) and it ignores the 50-60 years of building that SV originals had to do to get it to that point. 

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. John Best

            Damn right. If you’re doing this to create something ephemeral in the hope of getting picked up by Google/FB/whoever then you’re DOING IT WRONG.

        2. jason wright

          “It’s almost (and this isn’t directed at Hunch) like a lot of these startups are trying to pitch themselves as outsourced product development, ready for acquisition.”YES, I like this, except that I would have started the sentence with….’A lot……”. I think Hunch was a clear example of this phenomenon. I would go further and speculate that some such companies are being juiced up at inception by the heavyweights that ultimately buy them.

    2. JamesHRH

      Actually, 90% of startup CEOs used to say that ‘we will get so hot we will have to sell’.In the last 5 years or so, it is dawning on people in the space that the web is a seismic shift in human culture. That has made the ‘decades long statement’ more common.Does not make it less true, even when people are just aping it to get funded.

  8. Paraic Hegarty

    “When you are in the inside, or close to the inside, and you see what people write, it makes you shake your head.”I’m a fan and heavy user of Twitter but surely you should shake your head about how Twitter has failed to communicate its message rather than about how others have misunderstood it.

    1. fredwilson

      all the bloggers and journalists have to do is call or email Twitter. they would explain the situation to them. but instead its just post now, move on to the next post

      1. William Mougayar

        But most journalists/reporters are lazy and prefer to read stuff and analyze/rant accordingly. See my other comment that Twitter should be more regular and pro-active with their communications, and not just from Dick.

      2. JamesHRH

        That’s Twitter’s fault Fred. It is not like they lack the capital to do PR well or that they lack the technical savvy to monitor what is said about them and then politely follow up on hack reporting.



    2. SubstrateUndertow

      I think Twitter needs an array of filtered mass-market dashboards to entice users and ease them into appreciating all the custom use cases available.

  9. Rohan

    ‘It takes 3 weeks of preparation to give a great impromptu speech.’I’m sure there was a lot of back end prep to answer these questions.That said, he absolutely killed it. Very strong communication!

    1. JamesHRH

      Bear Bryant – games are won on Tuesday, not Saturday!

      1. matthughes

        That means the Super Bowl will be won tomorrow. 

  10. Rohan

    There was a great article on how Twitter is pushing commentators and ‘pundits’ to do much better. Basically, you now have a live stream of witty, insightful comments all through the game. And commentators have to really earn their money and do better than that.Game changing.And, as for the English comedian anecdote, I felt the same at a Bryan Adams concert. Everybody was tweeting at the O2 arena and you felt connected in a weird way. 

    1. laurie kalmanson

      livetweeting at conferences adds a new dimension

  11. Martin De Saulles

    It’s taken me a while to appreciate the value of Twitter from a professional perspective.  Judging by this Google search suggestion it is clearly a question on many people’s minds:

    1. Corey Maher

      Still on my mind. I know a lot of smart people that rave about it. But no-one has been able to explain to me how enforcing the shrinking of communcations makes them richer.



        1. Corey Maher

          Finally! It’s been explained!

  12. Khalid

    Hi Mr Fred,I have a question, please.I did hire a designer for my startup, and I am asking some experts how to make my startup global and successful and how to do the marketing. After that I wonna contact you as a successful venture capital.is that correct like that or I have to wait until i get a lot of user(if everything works fine) and then try to contact a VC? and how Foursquare react, i mean can Foursquare can me for example some advices while i am trying to build my startup, or i have to do all the steps from A to Z and then at the end, i can try to contact a VC?Sorry for the long question, i appreciate your advice a lot,  Thank you.

    1. fredwilson

      you can contact me any time but i will be able to help you more once you’ve built your product and i can see it and use it

      1. Khalid

        Thank you.And do you tell for example if you like it or not, if it is good or not. Or do you prefer as a VC to watch the startup from distance.I meant union square not foursquare, sorry 🙂

        1. fredwilson

          i will give you feedback

  13. awaldstein

    I’m a huge believer, constant user of Twitter. And as more and more of my networks use it, of course it becomes more useful and interesting.But in so far as being misunderstood…all I can say is, they should fix this. They haven’t tried very hard nor done a lot to inform or help the mass market.  It has to start with them. And I feel the same for a number of platform plays. So powerful. So critical. So poorly articulated that it shows lack of concern. I don’t think that is the intent but it feels like the result.

    1. Rohan

      ‘We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.’Feels a bit like Fred’s looking at it from the ‘intention’ point of view. 🙂 

      1. awaldstein

        Communications is what businesses do Rohan. Consciously. Sometimes they get if right, sometimes wrong but it’s part of the job.

        1. JamesHRH

          WADR, 90% of companies communicate like they are drunk – they are conscious that they are communicating but they are not coherent.

    2. jason wright

      Which is an irony. Twitter being about giving a voice to others to express opinion and explain position.

  14. laurie kalmanson

    here’s a true story happening right now about using social media across all mediaa beatles tribute band is grammy nominated for “fab fan memories,” which they made with the help of louise harrison, george harrison’s sister — it has full beatles cred.how can they promote the band and the album?they made a video, “we wanna meet paul” about maybe getting a chance to meet paul mccartney when they go to the grammys — he’s nominated, toothey posted the video on youtubethey’re promoting the video on twitter: sell a few albums, get a few gigs, and maybe even meet sir pauland there you gohere’s the videohttps://www.youtube.com/wat…here’s the twitterhttps://twitter.com/#!/thew…here’s the albumhttp://itunes.apple.com/us/…full disclousure: one of the wannabeatles is my daughter’s choir leader and has two grammys already.

    1. fredwilson

      might want to get it on FB and Tumblr too

  15. Esayas Gebremedhin

    it’s a tool for having a global conversation. the fact that it is disabled in china and iran tells you what it’s capable of.

    1. laurie kalmanson


      1. Esayas Gebremedhin

        it’s up to people’s imagination what they do with it. since design has been about leadership, most influential people tend to use it for political reasons.

  16. LIAD

    continuously impressed by Dick in the interviews he gives.Meticulous and calculated yet paradoxically also edgy and raw.I particularly liked his steadfast position, despite the fallout, on SOPA, when he tweeted “closing a global business in reaction to a single-issue in national politics is foolish”#big_leagues #means_business

    1. JamesHRH


  17. sigmaalgebra

    The interview indicated that the rule continues:  The medium is the message.Or, more clearly put, in a given medium, only certain messages can get through.  In old media, the messages are very constrained and often close to just nonsense.So, in the video clip, the interviewer was pursuing the message of old media:  He was looking for scandal, scoops, hot news, emotional grabbers, etc.What he had in front of him was a bright, creative, thoughtful, knowledgeable, articulate, serious, successful guy who could provide some new, insightful information but gave that up to pursue scandal.Old media is on the way to being ‘dis-intermediated’. Or, there is an audience for scandal, etc. content, but there are also other audiences, and new media via the Internet, blogs, Twitter, and more will finally relax the old constraints and permit greater variety in the message including, at times, horrors, actual rational, insightful, well-informed information about reality.Old media:  RIP. 

    1. JamesHRH

      The biggest issue with traditional media is that the agenda of the media outlet rules the day.Its not reporting, its finding things that support your views (or helps you achieve your goals – ‘the big get’) to report on.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Yes, an “agenda” is very important now in major parts of old media. Newspapers were political going way back, but it seems that now they are more political than, say, 15 years ago.So, what was the “agenda” of the interviewer in the clip here?  My take was that he was just after scandal as has been a favorite of newspapers back at least to the 1930s.  Here the scandal he was hoping for was that somehow Twitter was willing to be a tool of evil governments.  So, he kept trying and trying but never scored.  So, the “agenda” was that of exposing evil all around the world? Sophomoric and common but unusual as an “agenda”.

        1. JamesHRH

          Agenda is self promotion: ‘I am the guy that got Dick C to say Twitter is IPOing’ or ‘I am the guy that got DickC to say something he regrets about censorship’.Gotcha journalism = media hack self promotion agenda

          1. sigmaalgebra


      2. Adrian Palacios

        “new media” has not escaped that problem. there’s plenty of “new media” content that is self-promotion: “here’s what the cloud can do for your business, and oh by the way i can sell it to you”.new media has a quality problem too: worthless content piled in steaming heaps onto the internet, typically with the goal of boosting page views (aka ad dollars).imo it’s still just as hard to find “real” reporting in new media as in old media.

        1. JamesHRH

          Adrian – agree totally. The good news is that, for the most part, the charade is over.This blog rocks because @fredwilson:disqus follow the #nobullshit rule: he is transparent and honest about why AVC is AVC.It is what all PR firms preach to clients – have a good story to tell and then tell it well.Reporters who can report effectively will emerge – it just turns out that commentators who can comment without an agenda are the first wave of effective new media (@fromedome:disqus falls into this group, as does @sportsguy33:disqus ).

    2. LE

      “He was looking for scandal, scoops, hot news, emotional grabbers, etc.””Old media:  RIP.”The public likes dirt. It’s not going anywhere and neither is old media.  If anything it is becoming stronger and more reinforcing because of the availability on twitter.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        The “dirt” will remain, but now “other audiences” can also be served.While the dirt will remain, a huge fraction of old media is very sick or already dead. 

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      Yes indeed, the ultimate social-evolution message is the enveloped-limit of social-exchanges made possible by any given medium.And the internet, as a messaging platform, offers us an almost unlimited envelope of social-exchange possibilities.If one accepts the premise of the internet as an almost unlimited messaging platform, a surrogate medium that subsume all other messaging mediums.ThenThe medium is the social-evolution messageBecomesThe software is the social-evolution messageOn the old, physical world, messaging platform we extended the social-evolution message via smoke signals, the printing press, radio, TV and now all those old mediums have disappeared, been subsumed, into our new cyber-net messaging platform.On our new, cyber-net, messaging platform all extensions to the social-evolution message will be based not on new physical mediums but on network organized, abstract-space, social-exchange, topographies.Yet still, we have not developed any mass culture metaphor or lexicon by which to facilitate our collaborative efforts to work out those new network organizing principles in ways that will insure our, abstract-spaces and social-exchange topographies will be both socially beneficial and stable.<hr/>As Eben Moglen says:”Software is what the 21st century is made ofIt is the curial building blockthe component out of which everything else is madeand when I speak of everything – I mean of course:FREEDOMas well as Tyrannyas well as Business as usualas well as Spying on Everyone for free all the timeIn other words the very composition of social lifeThe way it works or doesn’t workFor USThe way it works or doesn’t workFor those that OwnThe way it works or doesn’t workFor those who OppressAll now depends on software”<hr/>Yet here on AVC the discussion about Universal-Web-Apps vs Fragmented-Device-Apps has been well covered. The more fundamental discussion on Centralized-Corpoate-Data-Silos vs Distibuted-Data-Privacy topographies has received much less air time.IMHO that is the true long term play but I guess that is just pie in the sky that cannot be seriously entertained by commercial developer at this juncture?

      1. sigmaalgebra

        I do agree with you that, for new media on the Internet, we don’t yet know its “topographies” or what it will look like. In particular, we don’t know much about the social aspects. 

      2. Mark Essel

        I dig your comment, but I see software as an intermediary. It’s a tool like any other, to aid in accomplishing a task, be it communication, education, or profit.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          True all technologies are by definition intermediary tools that extend, amplify or accelerate man’s biological abilities to perceive, to analyze or to physically manipulate his world by extending, amplifying or accelerating those 3 abilities in the temporal and/or spacial domains.But all technologies are not born equal. Some technologies are true platforms.By platform; I mean any set of fundamental building blocks that can be recombined according to a set of known interaction rules in order to build out a wide range of higher level structures.atoms are a platform for building out moleculesmolecules are a platform for building out life-moleculeslife-molecules are a platform for building out cellscells are a platform for building out organismshuman-organisms are a platform for building out social-structuressocial-structures are a platform for building out technology/toolsSOFTWARE IS MORE THAN JUST A TOOL SETSOFTWARE is a META-PLATFORMAt every platform level the ability to build out higher level structures, be they physical structures, biological structures, social structures or software structures is fundamentally underpinned by network-mediated communication and synchronization or network signalling control over the fabric of interplay between the platform’s component building-blocks.At the atomic-platform level the network-synchronizing of atoms into specifically configured network clusters, we call molecules, is provided by a somewhat strictly repeatable set of quantum based valence interaction rules.As you move up reality’s stack of platform-layers, to cellular-platform structures, then to social-platform structures, with each higher platform-layer both the platform’s structures and the network-mediated synchronization required to maintain the fabric of component building-block interplay that defines the platform’s structures becomes exponentially more complex and volatile.Still at every platform-level, it is that platform’s inherent network-mediated communication and synchronization control over the platform’s building-block components that determines the fabric and scope of structures that can be assembled/synchronized atop that platform’s network signalling control structures.Again, at progressively higher platform-levels the increasingly nested complexities introduce ever more volatile and self-referential systems of nested, mutually-adaptive, chain-reactive, feedback-looping or strange-loops. Those strange-loops provide a pathway for self referential alterations in the platform’s network-mediated building-block synchronization fabric. Whenever the platform’s network-mediated building-block-synchronization and control fabric evolves, so does the scope of structures that can be generated from that platform’s building-block components.Obviously cellular-level platforms have much more evolutionary volatility than do atomic-level platforms.And social-level platforms have even more evolutionary volatility than do cellular-level platforms.AND THEN MAN SAID LET THERE BESOFTWARE-PLATFORMSSOFTWARE TOOLS are our platform for building out new higher level, recombinant/reusable, simulation/control structures. These new simulation/control structures utilize as their basic building-block components all of the nested lower-level platform-layers and structures as well as their own software simulation/control platform-layer structures(meta-algorithms meta-extensibility)These new, higher level, software generated, simulation/control tool structures make it possible for us to reuse, recombine, reconfigure and repurpose all of these past and present platform-layers and structures within a software generated and controlled abstract space. This enables us to create both synchronous and/or asynchronous, network-orchestrated, distributively-adaptive, living-systems at the mechanical, biological, social and the collective cognition levels.Software-level platforms have unprecedented and direct access to self-referentially alter the network-synchronizing fabric they utilize in the assemblage and nested reuse of their own simulation and control structures. Simulation and control structures that, to no small degree, subsume into abstracted simulation and control all previous lower-level platforms and structures. These software simulation/control structures are capable of accelerating evolutionary changes in some lower level platforms and structures especially cellular and social-platform behaviours and structures. These software driven simulation and control structures are furthermore capable of generating new cross-platform, level-mixing, accelerant effects, potentially capable of destabilizing inter-platform homeostasis. It definitely won’t make the universe fall down but it could destabilize some living systems we hold near and dear.Software tools are at the business end of human participation in a highly nested, strange-loop driven, evolutionary, living-systems, wannabe universe.(strange-loop = a self-referential system of nested, mutually-adaptive, chain-reactive, feedback-loops)ANY WHOOOO !Our global internet software-platform will provideEITHERan accelerant super charge to the life force STRANGE ATTRACTOR, that strange-loop probability array that teases emergent living-systems out of a chaotic cosmosORit will precipitate the mythic runaway snowball SINGULARITY CRASH effect some fear.P.S.Don’t let it swell your head but it is kinda starting to look like software engineering is presently at the pinnacle of the universe’s attempt to pull itself up by its own bootstraps or trip over its own bootlaces 😉

          1. Mark Essel

            :), that was a tough comment to read between 5:55-6 this morning.

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            Sorry but the first time I posted it the formatting did not take. I hope you went to the actual posted comment instead of reading the email version, otherwise it really must have been almost unreadable. I still don’t get why that happens randomly?

          3. Mark Essel

            I read it on the site, and it took longer than 5 minutes, and a reread. What you have described is a thesis on platforms commingled with evolutionary changes (life, structure). I enjoyed the comment but it was a bit heavy for what I expect in AVC’s comment space. Nevertheless comment bloggers are much appreciated.

  18. awaldstein

    I’ve now watched the video and need to qualify remarks from earlier.He did a great job. Some grace under pressure for certain. Well done. Really articulate CEO talking to the industry and the market. I’d love to see a CMO or someone who is talking to the users. Maybe there is one. Maybe the answers are out there. I try not to use TechCrunch to navigate my world though.I bet if I asked 20 users of Twitter if they really understood how to use it. Who actually sees a tweet that as a #hashtag, the percentage of right answers would not be great.

    1. JamesHRH

      19 of the 20 would say I go and read tweets, then follow some links – what is there to understand.The 20th MIGHT be someone who is trying to ‘amplify their voice’ as Dick puts it. That person will not know all of what they could be doing, I bet.By the way, I don’t think DickC is right about amplifying – its building a following. Amplifying is not the same as building the initial connection.

      1. awaldstein

        I agree with the last piece James…and it’s important. More and more Twitter has become a conversational hub for certain channels. If fact, I find that it connects so well it breaks in the conversation string from overexposure. 

        1. JamesHRH

          Yes, I would agree re:convo issue.But, the vast majority of people use it to follow & read, not converse.Just like the vast majority of people don’t want MarkZ to share all their info.Early adopter v. mainstream.

      2. Ruth BT

        I think in relation to the political example it is about amplifying and cutting through the noise.

        1. JamesHRH

          We could be in semantic hell!Direct connection makes signal stronger is one way to look at it.Direct connection just sets up the conduit is another.I think of your signal as a heavier load of content – the stuff that is at the other end of the link that a tweet provides.

          1. Ruth BT

            Sure, I agree that for most Twitter provides a way to connect and to follow. I just think that when it comes to politics it comes down to who is the loudest.I must admit that this is my experience on the other side of the world but seems to be playing out in the US as well.

  19. Conrad Ross Schulman

    “honest, transparent and forward way of thinking”- Fred’s influence for sure 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      Nope. That’s the way Feedburner operated too

      1. Conrad Ross Schulman

        which came first the chicken or the egg? Either way, transparency and open-honesty is a unique and admired way to business. I recommend it for all start-ups, corps, individuals…etc#truth

        1. fredwilson


          1. laurie kalmanson


          2. fredwilson

            And a syntaxMy kids put hashtags in their texts to me

          3. pointsnfigures

            great point on transparency.  markets were always about the only immediate thing I could think of that were transparent and told you a lot about what was going on.  You could look at the price of oil and draw a conclusion.  Twitter is like that for a lot of different things, and there isn’t risk of losing money!

          4. laurie kalmanson


        2. JamesHRH

          Not surprisingly, the birds of #nobullshit flock together!

  20. andyswan

    One day in the not to distant future, when Twitter is on a quarterly conference call and an analyst asks them why they don’t expand to 180 characters, he’s gonna think to himself “man, I liked it a lot better when we didn’t give a shit if people understood us.”I’ve always wanted to work with @dickc:twitter  …. he’s what the CEO of twitter should be. 

    1. fredwilson

      You would really enjoy him Andy#nobullshit

      1. JamesHRH

        That was a very tight interview. It helps to #knowwhatthehellyouaretalkingabout when you are attempting to stick to #nobullshit!Appears to be a very impressive guy.

  21. William Mougayar

    Twitter is a misunderstood company because they don’t communicate well nor regularly about what they are doing, and why they are doing it. Interviews like this one are gems, and like gems,- they are rare and few and far in between. Who else besides Dick can talk about Twitter that way? They need a senior marketing or communications person that is constantly re-hashing and communicating, including someone visible for developers relations. Twitter is a misunderstood company because they are many things at once, and like the Internet in 1995, it was well misunderstood for the first 2 years of its commercialization. Twitter is simultaneously:- a Communications/broadcast medium- a Social Network- a Publishing platform- a Reading repository- a Search box- a Development platform- a Market of people & companies- a Transactional platform- an Advertising marketThey need to have visible product/business leaders for each of these categories that are constantly communicating about what each function does, day in and day out. Maybe they have these people, but we don’t know who they are. Who is Twitter head of Search, Twitter head of Publishing, Twitter head of Reading, etc… Each one would focus on that part that Twitter is, and then Twitter will be easier to understand.

    1. fredwilson

      Well said. Like most tech companies they care more about product and tech than marketing. I think they are trying to change that.

      1. awaldstein

        Funny…I think about them as a media company not a tech one.Apple is what they are because they look in the mirror and see a consumer brand not a tech one and build to that.

        1. William Mougayar

          You do, but do they? big difference 😉 If they did, point me to their “media” executive. Twitter’s org chart is a big secret, but it’s time they come out with one.- posted via Engagio

          1. awaldstein

            I have no idea. Like all the platforms–Twitter, FB even Disqus. All amazing. All could be better communicators. I use them heavily but step back and pause whenever I feel myself depending on them exclusively. Trust comes through communications not just utility. Funny…the one that I may trust the most because I comfortable that they know who they are is Tumblr, even though I’m the least tied to from a business perspective.My relationship with Disqus is the most complex by far. I’m most dependent on them on a daily basis. Most emotional with as they are integral to the thread of community for me. Most emotive about what they do the best and what I want them to do that they haven’t yet. – posted via Engagio

          2. JamesHRH

            Interesting comment Arnold.

          3. SubstrateUndertow

            The part of the communications loop I find most lacking is any serious effort to construct formal, creative, user feedback systems in order to shape the feature set let alone the ergonomic design.I can hear the groaning from here!

        2. JamesHRH

          That is the key realization. If you are in the consumer internet space today, you are in the brand building business.The tech merely delivers on the promise of the brand. The Twitter promise has been better understood by the users than the management team, pre-DickC. Look like that is changing.

        3. Carl Rahn Griffith

          I see Twitter’s impact as akin to CNN and MTV – in CNN context as in the impact had on real-time reportage and making it more visceral, somehow.And in MTV context, the impact that had on making music ‘visual’ and adding another dimension to the experience.

        4. SubstrateUndertow

          In a network economy the technical qualities of your medium is your branding message, delivered viscerally direct to the users.Your branding message is an experience the users get to jump inside of and drive.

        5. Donna Brewington White

          Although, do you think from a marketing standpoint, they are more like a tech company?It seems that an important component of tech marketing is education.  “What is this?”  “Why do I need this?” “What difference does it make?” etc.  

          1. awaldstein

            Hi DonnaAs soon as you have to educate the mass market you have a long and hard ride in front of you.I’ve sold sound (SoundBlasters) as entertainment, modems (Racal) as connectors, video games (Atari) as fun and community, web analytics (Keynote) as assurance and insurance and many more.I’ve never really educated anyone ;)- posted via Engagio

          2. ShanaC

            there are days where I think because of your experiences it would be fun to shadow you.  That I will say.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Me too, Shana. How are you btw?- posted via Engagio

      2. William Mougayar

        Yes, it’s an easy trap that many tech companies fall into (including myself with the first company). The day Twitter starts to increase their marketing & external communications will be an important turning moment. Twitter has a Google-like technology engine inside, but they are missing a Facebook-like marketing chutzpah. – posted via Engagio



        1. fredwilson

          twitter the product or twitter the company?

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. Mark Essel

          Is Twitter still a startup?

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. fredwilson

            oh man. that is a priceless gem of insight FG

          3. Thailand Reisen

            I’m gonna turn that into a T-Shirt 🙂

          4. William Mougayar

            I think FG sells them somewhere on the Internet.- posted via Engagio

    2. laurie kalmanson

      shorter: is twitter better off trying to build things like tweetdeck, or standing as the platform that the ecosystem builds itself around?

      1. William Mougayar

        That’s another topic in of itself. Twitter has struggled in defining exactly what they will do or won’t do, i.e. the platform pieces vs. the value-add around it. They have said it at the high-levels, but they have been known to change their minds or make surprise acquisitions that confuse, more than clarify things, e.g. Summify. http://blog.summify.com/201… Where is the Twitter blog explaining that? – posted via Engagio

        1. laurie kalmanson

          on target

        2. falicon

          Twitter has been wanting to do more with email for awhile now, starting with the release of email notifications last summer they are finally making some progress…but I think they realize that the current staff skill set was more on scaling than it was on how to properly do an email product…the Summify acquisition helps bring in email product experts who are also already VERY familiar with Twitter data and have at least a little clue about scaling.The probably haven’t explained it much yet, because honestly I think they aren’t entirely sure what email product they are actually going to build yet…they saw an opportunity to bring in a bright young, expert team to fill a hole they know they want to fill…so they moved on it.Once they have some time to figure out their roadmap, I suspect we’ll start to hear news of their plans…but it’s probably at least 6 months away from now.

          1. William Mougayar

            That’s a great explanation Kevin. As if you worked for them 🙂 – posted via Engagio

          2. JamesHRH

            Twitter is to email as flirting is to getting married.I cannot think of a single reason I would want Twitter to show up in my Inbox.Disqus is bad enough!!!!

          3. falicon

            If you have a powerful, personalized, filter that you can apply to Twitter there is a TON of value in getting  daily email, because it’s impossible for a human to catch, read, and understand everything that passes through Twitter…this is a problem of available time to consume, volume, and quality.Computers can help deal with the volume, intelligent algorithms (and a few special tricks) mixed in with a human element (very important) can help deal with the quality…and a daily email can help deal with the time to consume issue….to back up my basic argument, I can say that our knowabout.it daily emails (which are basically doing just what I outline above) see an average open rate of 20%-30% a day…and of those, 30%-40% generate at least one click (and yes, often they click more than one item)…so lots of people are already getting a TON of value out of having Twitter show up in their inbox every day. 🙂

          4. JamesHRH

            Just seems like a responsibility. I feel like I have to read email and respond to it – don’t have to do that with streams……..- posted via Engagio

        3. JamesHRH

          That’s a talent grab, no?

          1. William Mougayar

            That what it said, but the story behind that is left out. Why? What will they do with it, etc… Bloggers are speculating in the meantime.- posted via Engagio

    3. Brandon Marker

      I like the silence of Twitter. Facebook is ALWAYS reminding me it is their platform and their rules and their this and their that.When I get on Twitter it is merely a name, logo, and UI. The rest is mine. That view is a very narrow scope of myself, but I don’t feel like I am the only one with this view. I think this is a reason for some of the success Twitter has.

      1. William Mougayar

        I like the silence of Twitter the App, but I don’t like the silence of Twitter the Company. That was the only point of contention. – posted via Engagio

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Excellent distinction, William.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I liked @wmoug:disqus ‘s assessment, astute as usual, but you make a really good point.  Twitter is undefined enough that I as a user can make it my own, and use it the way I want to — as far as its features allow.Personally, I love that users have been part of the product development process — although Twitter feels more like a platform than a product which gives it more versatility and possibly longevity.  But in the long run, is this in Twitter’s best interests?  Those of us who are more adventurous and entrepreneurial like this open-endedness.  However, there are still many people (from my anecdotal experience) who shy away from Twitter because they really don’t know what it is and can’t figure out what its value is to their life or business.    Twitter is one of the products (platforms) that I am still in love with.  Nothing replaces it.

        1. awaldstein


        2. awaldstein

          Hi DonnaYes, I’m a Twitter fan and user. My #1 news feed each morning. My way to slice in to communications amongst pods of context spread across the globe. One-2-many at its best. One-2-a few conversations that have strong intent but rarely work that well.Most people in the mass market are clueless about how to get the main value from Twitter. Most small businesses honestly as well. Many use it. Want to love it. Use it without understanding. That’s the rub. There is massive good will here. I don’t know the name of any person within Twitter except the CEO. It is not sold. Not marketed. But it still has a strong pulse.Who loves a platform that they can’t define? Doesn’t help anyone get better at it. Yet they still can’t keep away.What a unique and wonderful problem to have. A communicator’s dream to make better.Here’s the thing and this is just hypothetical. Do you think Facebook will go away in the next 5 years? Would it matter to the then, what 1.5-2B users? Now ask that same question about yourself and Twitter. Somewhere in this thought lies the answer to what is core to the value. – posted via Engagio

        3. William Mougayar

          Nothing replaces it…And nothing will. Twitter has a multiple identities crisis. It’s a good crisis to have. Which doctor will they need to see? That’s another question.- posted via Engagio

    4. Mark Essel

      Right on Will

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks Mark.- posted via Engagio

  22. pointsnfigures

    What is interesting to me is the evolution of Twitter-and the generational differences in usage when you compare it to another dominant social media platform like Facebook.  When Twitter first came out my initial thought was they were using market segmentation-basically just taking the “update status” line of Facebook and broadcasting that across a platform.  It made some sense, but because many of the initial tweets were sort of silly a lot of people pooh poohed it.What was interesting was Twitter continued to work on the back end-but it was the consumer that found the use for the tool and made it powerful.  One day I was reading Barron’s and an exec said if you aren’t on Twitter you are missing information.  He said something like, “Twitter is a river of pertinent information that you simply dip a cup into and examine.  You toss out what you don’t need, keep what you want.”  That made me think.Then, a guy who is very sharp on social media, Allan Schoenberg and I were having a conversation about Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook is flat he said, and I cogitated about that for awhile.  He was right.  Facebook is flat.  It’s one dimensional.  Interaction may happen or it may not.  Fast forward three years to today.  My kids are in college.  They have Facebook of course, but also have Instagram et al.  How do they communicate with their friends on their immediate campus and with others around the country?  Twitter. How do people my age do it?  Facebook or email. It’s important to remember it’s just a tool.  Twitter has it’s own constraints.  But it is a powerful tool.  When people in NYC find out about an earthquake in DC on Twitter before the vibration hits their feet you know it’s a pretty awesome product.  One other anecdote.  Why watch business tv anymore?  It’s five minutes behind any breaking business news that is important.  Stocktwits is where the business news gets broken.  The thing is, there really is nothing traditional media can do to catch up.  Instead, they should adapt and offer a different style product that is more engaging that watching a talking head decide what I should hear and be exposed to.  I am almost fifty, but I feel 18.  It is amazing the revolution that I am experiencing right before my eyes.

    1. fredwilson

      My kids used to be into FB. Today its Twitter Tumblr Instagram and Pinterest. They still use FB but its a utility for them. The fun has moved elsewhere

      1. JamesHRH

        Yes, but the utility of having everyone they ever meet on FB means it will never go away. That’s a ridiculous proposition.What I liked best about the interview was Dick’s statement (and obvious realization) that he is building something that will be around for decades.It is a golden age.

        1. laurie kalmanson

          everyone that everyone knew used to be on aol

          1. JamesHRH

            Early adopter v mainstream.FB can blow it, but they have a chance to be the Coke of the web.

          2. laurie kalmanson

            tres true

      2. Luke Chamberlin

        An interesting by-product of the “like” and “tweet” buttons on nearly every website/blog post is that you can gauge how forward-thinking the site is by the ratio of fb likes to tweets.Mainstream sites have many likes but few tweets. The indie tech/art/design and so-forth sites have many more tweets to likes.It’s interesting to watch the shift take place.

      3. Carl Rahn Griffith

        From my sample audience size on Fb and chatting to others, Fb seems increasingly polarised – the age of regular Fb users seems to be 12-16 and then a skip to 45+ ….Hardly a scientific sample but I typically only use Fb because a large segment of my friends/family don’t use Twitter.My daily social networking/news feeds/inspiration comes increasingly from Twitter and Instagram. And A VC, of course! ;-)I still don’t really ‘get’ Tumblr – I find Instagram far more sociable and rewarding as a visual – and dialogue – medium. As for Twitter…. Well, I am still its number 1 Fanboy ;-)How often does a whole new communications channel come about? That’s what Twitter did/is. It’s beautiful. Simplicity at its very best. I am quite puzzled just how little dialogue takes place of Foursquare. This is an issue, brewing, I feel…

        1. JamesHRH

          Probably a mobility issue – 45 yo in front of screen all day at a desk, tweens can’t drive.

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith




        1. Adrian Palacios


        2. fredwilson

          won in a microsoft sort of way. unloved.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. JamesHRH

            did not need to be this way, but there is a personality issue at the heart of it. Founder thought of his users as saps, sees the world as a bunch of rubes who deserved to get played – the more they think of themselves the more the deserve to get worked.Tough world view to love.But, a decade of PR rehab and noone remembers that Bill was hated.

    2. laurie kalmanson

      i did a 30-day facebook cleanse and when i went back the ui looked like it was from 1998pinterest is zooming very very fast; for now, is still free of the paranoia inducing tinfoil hat needed madness of taking my posts and selling them that facebook commits every day, which destroyed that brand for me

      1. fredwilson

        Tinfoil hat needed madness!You are a poet Laurie

        1. laurie kalmanson

          blushspeaking of tinfoil hats, there’s a test at mit herehttp://berkeley.intel-resea…

      2. matthughes

        And by definition, 1998 ui is awful –

        1. laurie kalmanson

          1998 ui was good in 1998 — awesome, even

          1. matthughes

            Fair enough…awful is probably a little harsh.To me, web ui didn’t really get ‘awesome’ until mobile started running the show -Just cruised your blog by the way – terrific stuff.

          2. laurie kalmanson

            much appreciated

          3. laurie kalmanson

            mobile is amazing; we didn’t get there from a standing start, we had a decade of rampup

          1. matthughes

            Haha – that’s awesome. 

    3. Anne Libby

      William Gibson called it a “novelty aggregator.”

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        That’s cheerful for him!

        1. Anne Libby

          I’d bet on him being an optimist, though maybe not of the sunny variety.   Generally, the act of creating anything is essentially optimistic.  A few weeks ago he read from his latest book here in NYC, and answered questions from the audience, and I would call his demeanor “kindly”.  He’s fun to follow on Twitter.   Here’s the “novelty aggregator” article.http://www.wired.com/underw

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Agree – I love his work. Thanks for the link – I follow him on Twitter; was somewhat sceptical that it was the real him, initially.



    4. jason wright

      “I am almost fifty, but I feel 18.  It is amazing the revolution that I am experiencing right before my eyes.”It’s like being born again, living a second life, having a second chance. Take it, everyone. 

  23. Richard

    Give a man facebook and he will have knowledge for a day, teach a man how to use twitter and he will have knowledge for a lifetime.

    1. laurie kalmanson


  24. RichardF

    Twitter need to do more curation, by human beings, not an algorithm.

    1. JamesHRH

      This is the classic success trap. Curation needs to happen somewhere else.If @dickc:twitter is as good as @fredwilson:disqus says, a new brand will appear to do the curation. 

      1. RichardF

        I’d be reluctant to make my business model too dependent on the Twitter platform.

        1. jason wright

          Yes, it’s risky. Trust is a thing you only lose once. 

        2. awaldstein

          On any platform Richard.

          1. RichardF

            very true Arnold

  25. Tom Labus

    He should double as their PR guy!Even with the endless gibberish and mindless promotions, you can still feel the heart beat of the world on a good day.Twitter was an incredible sanctuary during the depth of the financial crisis in the winter of 09.

  26. Jennifer McFadden

    “Yes, we are continuing to fulfill our option to not go public….every moment.”Brilliant.Thanks for sharing. 

  27. Aaron Klein

    Twitter has driven huge behavioral change for me.One example: I finally deleted the links to CNN and MSNBC from my bookmarks bar.I still read articles on those sites…when I get a link on Twitter or otherwise.But I never go to their home pages just to see if any news happens to be breaking.And breaking news is also easier. 6 months ago, I was Board President while we were hiring a new CEO for the local community college. INTENSE on-campus and local media interest.Reporter after reporter asked “will you just text me the namme right before the press conference?” And I said “I’ll do you one better: I’ll tweet it as I walk into the room.”All their stories led with the tweet, not the actual press conference. 🙂

  28. Max Yoder

    I’ve never met Dick, but here’s what I like about the way he carries himself: he’s well-spoken and exceedingly intelligent, but he doesn’t come off as pompous or self-righteous. There’s never a moment when I wonder, “Does this guy think he’s better than the rest of us?” It’s refreshing for a whole host of reasons.

    1. JamesHRH

      Very true Max. I like the word ‘tight’. He knows he knows what he is doing, but seems to think that he is just doing his job.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      I like true way he can turns being straight forward into humour.

    3. fredwilson

      That’s what I like about him too Max

      1. LE

        Your view of him is colored by the fact that you have known him for a long time and have a personal relationship.  Just like people entering your house will see things that you never see.

        1. fredwilson

          i read your earlier comment. it registered loud and clear. but that’s not the Dick i know.

  29. FlavioGomes

    “Focus on your own goals” “Be patient”Build a real business…that’s the message I got from that…and I like it.

  30. Luke Chamberlin

    I sometimes wonder if big media companies willingly misrepresent twitter. I *still* hear reports that describe twitter as the place to go if you want to learn what your favorite celebrity had for lunch.The irony is twitter is a fantastic resource for journalists, and I would guess that a disproportionate number of journalists are on twitter compared to the general public. They shouldn’t misunderstand it at all.

  31. LE

    I’m amazed at the comments here that say that Dick came across well.I found him annoyed, defensive, unfriendly and a little patronizing to Kafka. Even angry. Not at ease at all. Not a good idea to make an interviewer for major media feel like a schmuck.  Or the way he treated Kara.  He would have made a terrible witness under cross examination or at a congressional hearing with the demeanor he showed.This is not a reflection on whether he was justified in acting the way he did or not. Just that he did act that way.  Kafka has an intense stare and if you look at his micro expressions he telegraphs when he is going to be annoying. Costello needs politician bullshit training to learn to deal with this type of interview with more ease.  He has to develop a better bedside manner for when he is in the hot seat and getting his buttons pushed.  My thoughts are not a reflection on how he is running twitter. Just the way he handled this interview.

    1. kidmercury

      i agree that he came across kinda mean in some ways but i liked that. i thought it was honest and authentic which i appreciate greatly. 

      1. LE

        I enjoyed watching it. It was interesting because he was as “honest and authentic” as you can be when you are limited in what you can say. But who doesn’t like to see someone on the hot seat? As you said “came across kinda mean in some ways but i liked that”.Likability is a big issue in getting a message across especially when you can’t say everything you want to. That was lacking here.Think about the way that top male leading actors come across. Even though they are better looking than you are, make more money, have beautiful woman, they are the  type that you would want to hang with. Because they are likable.

        1. JamesHRH

          He is honest and authentic. What is obvious is that he knows that Kafka and Kara have no value to add.

          1. LE

            “that Kafka and Kara have no value to add”Explain what you mean by that.

    2. David_Ragone

      I couldn’t disagree more. I think he was calm and composed, well spoken and overall quite impressive. I won’t hold it against Dick that Kafka was operating at a slower bit rate and not able to keep up.

      1. fredwilson

        Oh snap

        1. David_Ragone

          Too harsh?

          1. fredwilson

            not too harsh. but harsh. there’s a fine line. i think you are on the right side of it.

          2. David_Ragone

            Thanks – I appreciate the feedback.

    3. Brad Lindenberg

      I agree with you… Perhaps what he lacked was being able to charismatically put Kafka back in his place, however journalists jobs are to bark from the sidelines.There are three types of people in the world:Those who make things happen,Those who watch things happen,or those who wonder what’s happening.Journalists watch things happen. They don’t make things happen. They react to what has already happened and put a spin on it without having been in the creators shoes. Dick, his team, and the readers of AVC by enlarge make things happen. When a journalist nit piks on someone elses creation and hard work it berates me. It’s like Dick has built the empire state building and there is a tiny scratch on the antenna at the top, yet some journalist makes it his business to use their power, voice and reach within their means of employment (often not their own creation) to amplify this small problem to be perceived as a large problem by the public and the public forgets they are picking out a scratch on the empire state building – whilst humiliating the creator to some degree.We need to keep making things happen, and take this kind of stuff with a grain of salt.

      1. LE

        “It’s like Dick has built the empire state building and there is a tiny scratch on the antenna at the top, yet some journalist makes it his business to use their power, voice and reach within their means of employment (often not their own creation) to amplify this small problem”True. But it’s up to the person being interviewed to turn that situation around in a way that the sheep will understand. “Let me tell you what is great about this building and why that’s a small problem”.I saw a great example of that tonight while watching a story on chimps being used for animal testing. The biased “senior correspondent”  makes a big fuss for the story about about the rights of the animals and the researcher being interviewed says something like “I understand that you are protecting those animals. But I am here to protect the 2 million people that suffer from Hepatitis C” (or maybe it was B I don’t remember). He said it very calmly and with no signs of defensiveness. And I think he made the point very well in a common sense way that any sheep could understand.He had been coached or had put thought in advance to the interview and it showed in the way he presented himself.

    4. Cynthia Schames

      @domainregistry:disqus  It’s interesting to hear your thoughts on his manner. I actually felt that he was as gracious as he could be to Kara given the fact that she didn’t even bother to ask him a proper question.  “So….Facebook.” is not a question.  With regard to Kafka: I felt that his questions showed a lack of preparation and an apparent lack of understanding of relatively straightforward things like the purpose of political advertising, or Twitter’s actual stance on censorship.It seems to me that Dick is just the kind of guy who does not suffer fools. I have no particular malice toward either Kafka or Kara, but they both came off foolish so I can’t fault him for having very little patience when asked stupid questions.  I would have been a little annoyed and patronizing in his shoes, too.I do see your point about “bedside manner”, but frankly I think journalists who don’t prepare well deserve to be treated in a somewhat prickly manner by their interview subjects.

  32. kidmercury

    i sympathize with twitter in a way regarding the censorship stuff, but the real step forward is for platforms to have their own values rather than comply with nation-states. that’s the big breakthrough and finding the economic paradigm in which that works. if you’re thinking decades into the future and you’re paying attention to what is going on in the world, that should be increasingly obvious. the nation-state model is on its last legs. the crying about how google manages their search results is so silly. i should start crying about how twitter should give me lots of money because i’m a cool person and if they don’t want to be evil they should be nice and give me money. lol wtf

    1. kidmercury

      also, i know everyone is busy partying the victory over SOPA, but once you’re done partying remember ACTA and OPEN are up next:http://www.ibtimes.com/arti…OPEN (lol i love these names!!!!!) has the support of facebook and google…..good or bad?anyway, no matter what law they try to pass they are looking to do more of what they already do, which is seize domain names and track/censor/control the web. ultimately the real solution is in creating an alternate DNS system that can work around domain seizures. then they will come after data centers, so we need localized webs….then they come after bank accounts so we need virtual money system. then game over, we win, and everyone can go back to sleep until the problem emerges again. this is the beginning of how platforms disrupt the nation-state as the dominant model of governance. stay focused on the good news — which is that humanity is about to be more liberated than it ever has been, and once this is through an age of unprecedented abundance will begin. #web2012

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Kid,I think you are a little idealistic…Another way of looking at it is that the “web” is in fact becoming a virtual nation state, and thus we might want to curb our enthusiasm with a reading of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.Or in the immortal words of Janis Joplin, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose…”

        1. kidmercury

          agreed that the web is becoming a virtual nation-state. i should clarify: when i say the nation-state sucks and goes off on that track i mean nations (i.e. USA, canada, spain, greece, china, india, kenya, etc) those things suck. i think internet platforms are the new versions of them. some will say internet platforms suck as well, and i agree to the extent that i acknowledge it is unlikely to be perfect — there is always something to complain about. but it will be a system we are not born into and will have greater mobility, and they will compete for us rather than us being enslaved to them (the way it is with nation-states). of course most people think this idea is too far out there and still fringe. fair enough, though my rebuttal is that the US has 15.2 trillion in debt (and growing) and the UK, eurozone, india, japan, and probably others are mired in a global sovereign debt crisis. this is what is driving the global econonmy. we are already seeing governments cut back on spending (but not on war spending of course! :)) because they dont have the money. so, SOMETHING is going to have to replace this. i.e. we still need roads, defense, energy, telecommunications, and all the other reasons people offer as excuses to justify their enslavement to the nation-state system. i think internet platforms are increasingly going to fill the gap and deliver these services, as it is consistent with their business model. google will probably pay for your wedding if they can put ads on the napkins. lol i exaggerate, but not by much. so here’s another way of phrasing the issue: the nation-states have a debt crisis they are not going to be able to pay off. so how do they survive? how does this get resolved? if people do nothing, the bureaucrats will create an official world government that creates a new government as the “solution” to the global debt crisis, and they will let some countries cancel their obligations and reprice currencies as part of the deal (this will lead to a massive transfer of wealth, from west to east). this is not a solution and only ensures the internet will be less free and less localized and everyone pays more taxes. will twitter obey this world government? will we all obey this world government? that remains to be seen, but i think when people realize they are getting screwed on this deal, they will wake up. the occupy stuff and the sopa rebellions are promising first signs, and i believe that momentum will accelerate — much to our collective advantage. 



      1. kidmercury

        Au contraire! Wifi, and civil disobedience via disobeying spectrum laws get us around the wires issue. As for electricity issues (ie if they shut off grids) we can use solar, backup generators, and hopefully once society wakes up, mini nuclear stuff. But I dont think they have the ability to shut down the grid, that will definitelt get even the biggest scaredy cats and apathetic slaves awakened.The only real obstacle is fear and allegiance to laws made by criminal organizations rather than laws made by moral authority.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. kidmercury

            oh ye of little faith. i expected more optimism out of you, fake grimlock. for optimists like me, no worries! yes mesh networks are inconvenient — now. they will become at least a little bit more convenient as they become in greater demand. if this is a slow non-violent war, that gives us lots of time to innovate in terms of new devices and new organizing strategies. if this is fast non-violent war, that means the pain is over with quickly.

  33. Kris mayaka

    Twitter is first to tell what happened if you interested, shortly, newsites tell why it happened, then you tube shows how it happened, afterwards alot of smart monkeys on FB /G+ blogs discuss why it shouldn’t have happened, CNN and MSNBC  loops it  ,newspapers just summarise these and add a win-a-car competition. 

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      That was cute!

  34. jeffyablon

    Know what? Dick comes off annoying and professorial (which … umm … I can relate to), and a bit abrasive (“I already answered that; I would just refer you to my previous answers”), but … you can hear his mewssage, and that he’s got a vision.

  35. Otto

    Twitter is almost non-existent for my personal use, but I’m creating anonymous alter-ego or fictional characters and I’m having a blast with those. I don’t have a big following yet but the people who do follow those characters are very conversational with them (me).I will never be happy with the censorship decision though.

  36. JaredMermey

    The most interesting thing about Twitter is that its core atomic unit (i.e., the Tweet) is so powerful and so many of them are generated so quickly, that Twitter is still trying to figure out the best way to display them — let alone technically handle them (though it is awesome that we are seeing the fail whale much less often). Both in-house and third party products built off their platform have helped make huge strides with each iteration helping add to the product’s value and allowing more people to have the “a-ha” moment. I still get the feeling that we are not quite there but are “oh so close.” It will be very fun when we get “there.”

  37. Dan Epstein

    One of my nieces (high school age) recently joined Twitter.  I saw her there and asked her about it, b/c about a year ago, I asked her if she and her friends used Twitter.  The answer then was “no, we don’t use Twitter.”  The answer now was 1) most of her class is on it, and 2) “Twitter is the new Facebook.” cc/ @dickc:twitter 

  38. jason wright

    An interrogator called Kafka – you couldn’t make it up.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Little wonder it’s a nightmare interview…

  39. Brad Lindenberg

    I’m not sure if Twitter is cashflow neutral or not, however I assume they are not considering their only real revenue comes from promoted tweets…I view Twitter long term as a necessary public service of the world, not specifically as a business. In a similar way to that we need certain utilities in our lives, whether it be phones for communication, electricity, gas, garbage collection etc… They are essential elements of everyones lives. Television got around this by governments launching state owned, opinion neutral television stations. We have one in Australia called SBS. I’m not sure what the equivalent is in the US. Being state owned has its owned has its own issues but life without twitter would be worse than life with twitter for many people, and therefore it should continue to operate regardless of its financial position.Twitter has a serious utility value at a global level as proven through the STOP SOPA effort + Arab Spring, therefore there needs to be a realistic way to sustain its existence. The problem is that its operating costs are so high (900 people). In an older post, Fred mentioned that Reddit was able to be run by Conde Nast with 1 person. Twitter is a simple service however it now has a huge valuation and therefore investors are expecting a huge return. Had the valuation stayed low and/or realistic then they would be an excellent takeover target for a company that can do what Conde Nast did with Redit (obviously with a lot more people). It’s almost as if Twitter is plagued with an “investors fallacy” that has caused it to meet expectations which are just simply not possible within the contraints of its simple, yet useful offering.

    1. kidmercury

      ^2 money comment right here…..respect!

  40. abhic

    Am I the only one who thinks that Dick Costolo is the ‘House M.D.’ of the Valley? Every single interview of his is high-octane and just plain entertaining.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s because he was a professional entertainer before he became an entrepreneur

      1. abhic

        Didn’t know that till I saw this video.

  41. Penny Stadel

     What do you  think?

  42. Robert Thuston

    I like this… Several things that stand out that make me see why he’s leading this company…”we’re going to be transparent, because in the long run we think people will look back on it saying it was right… We not focusing on the short term reaction.””We’re going to follow our vision… Because if we follow others… We’re going to start driving all over the road, and employees are going to lose trust in their leader.””we’re not focused on the window of an IPO, we’re only focused on creating a business that will be around for decades… We don’t care how long it takes to get to that company that will be around for decades… But that’s our sole focus”

  43. tacanderson

    As a Twitter user I have frequently lamented the shift in strategy that happened when the company moved from @ev to @DickC (or more accurately the actual development of a strategy). The fact is I liked @ev’s Twitter better (but I’m an early adopter so what do you expect). I have to say, seeing this video showed me a side of @DickC I haven’t seen before and did a good job showing that he is a strong leader. I may still not be happy that they’ve decided to take (what I perceived as) the easy road and go after advertising (I was hopeful they’d become an even stronger utility/platform for developers), but the business person in me feels a lot better about Twitter than I did 13 minutes ago. Thanks for sharing Fred. 

    1. fredwilson

      current twitter is @jack’s and @dickc’s twitter

      1. tacanderson

        I’m going to reserve the right to remain skeptical as to how that will play out. 

  44. Mark Essel

    Can’t see the vid, flash only? Egads man ;).The video embedded here (http://allthingsd.com/20120… worked on my phone

  45. Prokofy

    Twitter has done a very bad thing agreeing to do the dirty week of oppressive regimes for them. They shouldn’t bless as “law” any order or edict that comes from an oppressive regime packaged as a “court order” and then block people’s tweets. This nodding and winking and saying people can switch localities or do workarounds with Tor — meh. That’s not the point. The point is to be able to tweet proudly and normally with something like #freeby or #electby right in those countries and not let oppressive governments prey on a platform provider greedy for ad money and get their collusion.What’s appalling is to see all you stop #SOPA freaks who were screaming about censorship that never existed whatsoever in fighting *piracy* now get behind Twitter on this *actual* censorship proxying. It’s awful. And seeing all the gurus like Tufecki and MacKinnon and Alex Howard and Jillian York all applaud this bad move by Twitter — ugh, ugh. Yet it is proof more than ever of my theory of the Wired State.

  46. Patrick Morris

    I think his point on the election was very important and the real-time updates that occur this election season will ramp up the significance of twitter for a larger amount of people. Glad he spoke to the humanity of twitter, which I see as the biggest impact of the social web (we just need more authenticity). 

  47. Ivan Martin

    is it naive to compare every pervasive messaging “platform” to AOL Instant Messenger? I realize that this analogy is played out, but does Twitter do anything that would force people to pay anything but some display ad fees? I mean – email is everything you mentioned and i believe it is near-worthless as a transactional asset 

    1. fredwilson

      twitter generates significant annual revenues from its promoted suite