Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on How to Reform the Platform

  • How Twitter got started: We were trying to start a podcast company before accidentally creating Twitter. We had to switch our strategy because Apple came out with a podcast directory. We weren’t as passionate about it. That gave rise to working on things we were passionate about. Out of that Twitter was created.

  • We started playing with Twitter in 2006: At that time it was much more focused on what was happening around me and my status. Like a text selfie.

  • One of the most beautiful things about Twitter is the people that used it showed us what they wanted it to be: At South By Southwest people were using Twitter to tell people what session or bar they were going to. The users started using the @ symbol to address one another.

  • We benefited from some of the older models of the internet: Pseudonymity remains important. You get to express a little more of yourself but you also get to build identity. We want people to build an identity around whatever name they choose.

  • One of the things we are focused on right now is how can we clearly identify who is human and who is a bot: That is complicated because scripting gets more and more sophisticated. 

  • Skepticism is necessary: I think a healthy skepticism, a healthy distrust is necessary. Not just for our company. But for the government. And for the technology, we use every day.

  • Many problems in the future are unpredictable: As a company reaches a certain scale you solve particular problems. Then new problems emerge. 

  • I don’t see Twitter as a social network that benefits from the address book you have in your phone: I see Twitter as an interest network. You may not know the people talking about this topic but they have something interesting to say that you find valuable. 

  • Misinformation is not a solvable problem: Humans have been lying forever. We are not going to solve the lying problem.

  • Do you regret not buying Instagram: Kevin Systrom was our intern. I was one of the first 10 people on Instagram. I was one of their first investors. I just think text is so powerful. It gets at thinking directly. You can’t get that in an image. And video takes a long time to consume. Text is fast and to the point. Images and text can coexist but they serve different use cases. 

  • The context of having no way to edit a tweet: We started Twitter as texting. One way to view Twitter is a text conversation with the world. The beauty of conversation is if you say something wrong you correct it. It is not a post. It evolves. 

  • How would you describe getting kicked out of Twitter [in 2008]? It was an awakening for me. I attribute a lot of who I am today to events around that time. I cried the day I got kicked out. It was really hard. 

  • With the exception of working at one or two companies, I never had a real job:I did consulting. I created my own things. When I started Square I had $400,000 in credit card debt. Working at a traditional company is not for me. I love building things from scratch. I love that feeling.

  • What was your biggest mistake building Twitter: Not focusing on our superpower. Being too reactive to what everyone else was doing. We needed to go deeper into what we do best which is public conversation.

  • Full podcast here.