News & Views
The Secret History of Twitter

It is possible to argue that nobody can truly call themselves a success until they’ve been at the centre of a scandal. Mark Zuckerberg was immortalised in “The Social Network”, an Oscar-winning film based on a tell-all book about the early days of Facebook. And, just like Zuckerberg before him, now Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is finding himself the subject of widespread gossip, as the media spotlight is shone on the origins of his company.

The tale of Twitter’s birth, and stratospheric growth, is unfolded in a new book by New York Times writer Nick Bilton. Its full title is “Hatching Twitter: A True Story Of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal”, which should give you some indication as to the incendiary, not-at-all manipulative content.

According to the book, which is based on Bilton’s interviews with Twitter investors and employees, Dorsey forced co-founder Noah Glass out of the company at an early stage, after Glass proved instrumental in refining the network’s concept (even, reportedly, originating the name “Twitter”).

One extract reads: “Perhaps it was because he sensed vulnerability or perhaps it was because Glass was the only person who could rightly insist that the status updater was not Dorsey’s idea alone… Whatever his reasons, Dorsey had recently met with [Odeo founder Evan Williams] and threatened to quit if Glass wasn’t let go.”

It is this particular twist which has led to Dorsey’s reputation taking quite the bashing of late. If the leaked excerpts are anything to go by, the upcoming tome promises to be full of such nuggets, including one claim that Dorsey nearly jumped ship to Facebook amid a power struggle with Williams, and another that Al Gore once expressed interest in buying Twitter.

Of course, it is the very nature of “tell all” books to be sensationalist and based on anecdotes, rather than verifiable facts. But the credibility of Bilton’s assertions is almost beside the point; true or false, it is starting to look like the damage has already been done. And so only two questions remain: Will you be buying Bilton’s book? And is it too late to start thinking about going as Jack Dorsey for Halloween?

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