I put people first, then technology: Biz Stone

To promote his new book ‘Things a Little Bird Told Me,’ Twitter cofounder Biz Stone was at the Free Library of Philadelphia for a ticketed, breakfast event for which I interviewed him on stage for a half-hour before audience questions finished the morning.

My line of questions can be seen here. I tried to to steer the conversation away from what has already been said by Stone, a well-covered tech entrepreneur who is in the midst of a popular book tour, but we still hit upon some of what has already been covered: the designer by trade has focused on bringing the human touch to software.

That helps explain how decidedly simple Twitter is and how Stone’s new startup Jelly, a network-driven answer app, has stayed focused on getting social responses.

Watch below an interview Stone did that covered some of the same ground.

In the green room, he also talked to me about his pathway was about following people, not jobs — including following Evan Williams to Google and then to start Twitter.

In the 300+-seat auditorium, the 8am, $40 event probably filled about 200 seats, a fine crowd though it might have looked otherwise. Photo above by Christine Cavalier, photo below by Ashley Feucht.


My notes from reading his book:

  • His podcasting company failed because he didn’t care. Twitter succeeded because he had passion for it: page 50
  • Creativity needs constraint, so the 140 characters was bound to succeed: 57 hermann hauser
  • Paying for 2007 SXSW: $10k to put up TV screens and helped get a sense of what worked for the platform. Stone said they didn’t have a clear strategy but the success was the right timing (he had launched similar efforts in the past) and paying to access the right audience early.
  • Human flocking: 68; first time he saw Twitter in the wild, then he watched people use it.
  • You can’t control how your product is used if it’s a platform fast launch, slow development update 87
  • Fans sent Twitter offices delivery pizza pre iPhone launch because Twitter was so open about preparing for heavy usage. Stone says his focus on being transparent helped create fans. 95
  • Struggle of losing CEO 112
  • What twitter was for 115
  • Hudson River tweet and Moldova were seismic international experiences that taught Twitter global power 118
  • $500m and reasons to sell for Zuckerberg 132
  • Build the buildings and follow the paths in the grass to build sidewalks 136
  • No homework policy 148
  • 6 assumptions Stone made new Twitter employees agree to before joining 160
  • Make a stance in product design, don’t create options to fill all uses: that’s wishy washy development 163

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