Biz Stone shares his Marketing Strategies. With nearly two million followers on Twitter, Biz Stone is one of the most influential voices on the internet. Not only that – he created the micro-blogging medium. As a co-founder of Twitter, Stone has taken the business world by storm over the past few years, helping to create a medium that welcomed user number 500 million into its fold in late February. Half a billion users, all sending out their thoughts, feelings, wants, impressions and views 140 characters at a time. “We founded Twitter on the belief that the open exchange of information will have a positive impact on the world,” said Stone, whose given first name is Christopher (“When I was a little kid, I said ‘Bizerber’ instead of Christopher, and my parents thought that was funny, so they called me Biz”), in an interview with Counselor.
“We wanted to create a medium where people could easily share information with a lot of other people.” Mission accomplished. As a serial internet entrepreneur, Stone has helped to start multiple companies and even recently left Twitter to head
up a new venture called The Obvious – Stone’s greatest hit is now one of the most recognised brands in the world. It took Coca-Cola dozens of years to become a top-of-mind brand. It took Twitter less than five years. In an exclusive interview, Stone shared his beliefs about the future of internet communications and offered insights into his successful leadership and business strategies.
What was your inspiration
behind Twitter? There were three founders (Stone, plus Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey), so our visions may be a little bit different. For me, I’d been working already for many years on just the idea that the open exchange of information will have a positive impact on the world. We were working on a project called ‘Blogger’ that was one of the first blogging tools, and when SMS came out, I guess SMS was really the inspiration for me because it started to get popular in the United States.
How did that expand into the unique 140-character concept?
I saw this rudimentary tool and I thought, “Could I build something on this system that’s sort of in the line of my work – instead of one to one, it’s one to many?” And that was the beginning. And then Jack said that he’d always been interested in the way cities work. The idea that there’s a lot of people roaming around the city and you’d be able to sort of see what everyone was saying. That began the genesis of it all.
You’ve said you didn’t think you were going to be successful with Twitter. What was the first indication that you were wrong about that?
Well, at first we were just having fun with it and we loved it. Everyone was telling us it was just a total waste of time and it was not useful. That didn’t matter to us. We didn’t even really notice it because we were having so much fun with it.
How did you overcome the naysayers?
The first indication that we were onto something came at the South by Southwest conference in 2006. It happens every year in Austin; it’s a music and film festival, but just before that, a bunch of dorks go there and talk about interactive media and the internet. There were enough people on our system by that point, and we were able to sort of see it in action during the conferences. The one thing that basically happened was, there was a guy at the bar and he said, “This bar’s too crowded and loud, and I want to be able to network with others, so let’s head over to this other bar,” and he sent out a tweet. In the eight minutes it took him to walk to that bar, it had filled to capacity with a line out the door. So his plan totally backfired, but it made me realise that he had done something that I think had never been done: he organised a group of people on the fly to move together as one to a specific location, almost as if we suddenly had the flocking ability of birds moving around an object in flight. I couldn’t think of any kind of technology that humans had access to that allowed them to do that so simply.
The “aha” moment?
Definitely. That was a real trigger, and we realised that we had stumbled into a new form of communication that could be very important. That was a party, but what if it had been a disaster or something serious?