I've followed Twitter from its inception, but there was plenty about the company that hasn't been revealed -- at least until now. Nick Bilton's opus Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal goes where no book has gone before. And the timing couldn't be more propitious. Twitter goes public in a few hours.
Bilton's excellent book rivals The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon in its scope and unflinching honesty. Through copious research and interviews, Bilton weaves together the heretofore untold story of one of the most influential companies of our times.
I know that things can be chaotic at successful startups, but Bilton describes how Twitter was a complete mess early on-and even as recently as 2011. Its core technology, strategy, finances, and management were anything but settled. Even many employees didn't know who was minding the store. Against that backdrop, it's amazing that the company will soon be worth nearly $15B.
I like the fact that Bilton pulls no punches, calling out self-anointed Steve Jobs's successor Jack Dorsey often and not without justification. Dorsey often comes across as petulant, egomaniacal, and cunning. I had doubts that he was the second coming of Apple's iconic leader, and the book only confirmed my suspicions.
On a totally different level, it was interesting to see how Twitter has embraced platform thinking. Twitter's cofounders understood that the success today often hinges upon rapid innovation from a company's ecosystem. (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are just a few of the most prominent examples of this critical business trend.) In the case of Twitter, the @ symbol, retweet button, and hashtag are just a few of the recommendations that others proposed to the core Twitter product. It didn't matter if Jack, Ev, or Biz found a particular enhancement useful. Millions of Twitter users did.
Bilton's book is informative on many levels and I can't wait for his next one.
Rating: 5/5 stars