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Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

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Twitter seems like a perfect start-up success story. In barely six years, a small group of young, ambitious programmers in Silicon Valley built an $11.5 billion business out of the ashes of a failed podcasting company. Today Twitter boasts more than 200 million active users and has affected business, politics, media, and other fields in innumerable ways. Now Nick Bilton of Twitter seems like a perfect start-up success story. In barely six years, a small group of young, ambitious programmers in Silicon Valley built an $11.5 billion business out of the ashes of a failed podcasting company. Today Twitter boasts more than 200 million active users and has affected business, politics, media, and other fields in innumerable ways. Now Nick Bilton of the New York Times takes readers behind the scenes with a narrative that shows what happened inside Twitter as it grew at exponential speeds. This is a tale of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles as the four founders—Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, and Noah Glass—went from everyday engineers to wealthy celebrities, featured on magazine covers, Oprah, The Daily Show, and Time’s list of the world’s most influential people. Bilton’s exclusive access and exhaustive investigative reporting—drawing on hundreds of sources, documents, and internal e-mails—have enabled him to write an intimate portrait of fame, influence, and power. He also captures the zeitgeist and global influence of Twitter, which has been used to help overthrow governments in the Middle East and disrupt the very fabric of the way people communicate.


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Twitter seems like a perfect start-up success story. In barely six years, a small group of young, ambitious programmers in Silicon Valley built an $11.5 billion business out of the ashes of a failed podcasting company. Today Twitter boasts more than 200 million active users and has affected business, politics, media, and other fields in innumerable ways. Now Nick Bilton of Twitter seems like a perfect start-up success story. In barely six years, a small group of young, ambitious programmers in Silicon Valley built an $11.5 billion business out of the ashes of a failed podcasting company. Today Twitter boasts more than 200 million active users and has affected business, politics, media, and other fields in innumerable ways. Now Nick Bilton of the New York Times takes readers behind the scenes with a narrative that shows what happened inside Twitter as it grew at exponential speeds. This is a tale of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles as the four founders—Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, and Noah Glass—went from everyday engineers to wealthy celebrities, featured on magazine covers, Oprah, The Daily Show, and Time’s list of the world’s most influential people. Bilton’s exclusive access and exhaustive investigative reporting—drawing on hundreds of sources, documents, and internal e-mails—have enabled him to write an intimate portrait of fame, influence, and power. He also captures the zeitgeist and global influence of Twitter, which has been used to help overthrow governments in the Middle East and disrupt the very fabric of the way people communicate.

30 review for Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eklein

    This book, in less than 140 characters: Nick Bilton really, really hates Jack Dorsey. Hatching Twitter ultimately has a lopping, meta-quality to it: It's about the fight between the four founders for control of both the company and the origin story. But it is, itself, part of the fight between the four founders for control of both the company and the origin story. This is a fight that Biz, Noah, and Ev win even as it's a fight that they've more or less lost in real life. But their victory in the This book, in less than 140 characters: Nick Bilton really, really hates Jack Dorsey. Hatching Twitter ultimately has a lopping, meta-quality to it: It's about the fight between the four founders for control of both the company and the origin story. But it is, itself, part of the fight between the four founders for control of both the company and the origin story. This is a fight that Biz, Noah, and Ev win even as it's a fight that they've more or less lost in real life. But their victory in the book is so complete as to be suspicious. Bilton is so skeptical of Dorsey's motives, and so trusting of the other founders, that the account begins to read as overwhelmingly one-sided, even as it's deeply reported (including with Dorsey). This is perhaps most glaringly obvious in the closing vignettes, where -- no serious spoilers -- Jack's win is presented as a loss because, basically, he hasn't yet started a family of his own. Bilton's rooting interest is clear. It's perhaps unfair to criticize a book for being about what it's about rather than what you want it to be about. But you learn precious little about Twitter as a technology or as a business here. The ousting of Ev, for instance, is clearly a more complex story than the Jack-as-svengali narrative that Bilton presents. There's a reason all these top investors with huge money on the line made the decisions they did. But it's a story that's glossed over in favor of a reconstruction of Dorsey's garden-variety scheming to return to the company. Hatching Twitter is a quick read and thick with excellent reporting. But in the end Twitter is a lot more interesting than Ev or Noah or Jack or Biz. I'd have liked to learn more about it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dino-Jess ✮ The Book Eating Dinosaur ✮

    I FUCKING LOVE THIS BOOK WITH ALL MY HEART ITS EVERYTHING I HOPED FOR AND MORE! This book made my heart hurt, a lot. I know they say never do business with friends and all that, but the ruthlessness with which the start up businesses in Silicon Valley treat their founders and engineers was positively shocking. There are so many truth bombs in here - the social commentary on today's trends that were shaped BECAUSE OF the creation of Twitter and other new and emerging technologies was absolutely I FUCKING LOVE THIS BOOK WITH ALL MY HEART ITS EVERYTHING I HOPED FOR AND MORE! This book made my heart hurt, a lot. I know they say never do business with friends and all that, but the ruthlessness with which the start up businesses in Silicon Valley treat their founders and engineers was positively shocking. There are so many truth bombs in here - the social commentary on today's trends that were shaped BECAUSE OF the creation of Twitter and other new and emerging technologies was absolutely fantastic. The writing in this is spectacular. I felt like I was a co-founder, going through the ups and downs of being involved in a technology start up in Silicon Valley myself. I can totally see why this has been optioned for television. We know which characters we are supposed to like, and which ones we are supposed to despise, and then there are a few that creep up on you and take you by surprise. This book was utterly fascinating! I learnt a lot about Twitter, about Silicon Valley, about venture capitalism, about life and about loneliness. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was the fucking best and I have already bought a copy to keep, as I have to return this one to the library. I will leave you with this quote, that really reflects on the real reason that Twitter was originally created, to help people feel less lonely...... "In the centre of every big city in the world, surrounded by noise and teeming millions of people, are lonely people. Loneliness is not so much where you are, but instead is your state of mind." ONE THOUSAND STARS Will read anything this man writes. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I imagine Ev as Donald from Silicon Valley. MY FAV. I was put onto this book after reading this wonderfully educational article about silk road and since the book version of that story is not yet complete, I will make do with this bad boy instead.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    A stunning modern day story of a company trying to find it's identity in a medium, social media, that barely knows what it is. Zuckerberg may have been an a-hole, but at least he isn't Jack Dorsey.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bren

    “In the past, history was always written by the victors. But in the age of Twitter, history is written by everyone.” ― Nick Bilton, Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal Why is it that when smart executives get together and build something that turns into a billion dollar idea, inevitably lawsuites, arguments and bitter divides follow? We saw it with Facebook and apparently the inventors of Twitter are no different. Not being a twitter member myself, I still had “In the past, history was always written by the victors. But in the age of Twitter, history is written by everyone.” ― Nick Bilton, Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal Why is it that when smart executives get together and build something that turns into a billion dollar idea, inevitably lawsuites, arguments and bitter divides follow? We saw it with Facebook and apparently the inventors of Twitter are no different. Not being a twitter member myself, I still had an interest in reading about the makers of it. What I discovered wasn't great. This book is packed full of information and does a good job explaining to readers the story of how Twitter came to be. While I enjoyed the book (surprisingly alot) after awhile I had to skim a bit as all the fighting and arguments between the founders got to be to much. It is still a good read though and worth taking a look at.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    It's bizarre to read a True Life Story about people you know. Writing any kind of history is a fraught project, because the nature of the beast is that the people who talk to the author are the ones who get their side of the story preserved. It's clear from reading it who had Bilton's ear, and who didn't. Bill Campbell, advisor to the CEO, in particular comes across as a very loose unit, a testosterone-crazed shoot-first wingnut. That aside, taking the version of history presented at face value, It's bizarre to read a True Life Story about people you know. Writing any kind of history is a fraught project, because the nature of the beast is that the people who talk to the author are the ones who get their side of the story preserved. It's clear from reading it who had Bilton's ear, and who didn't. Bill Campbell, advisor to the CEO, in particular comes across as a very loose unit, a testosterone-crazed shoot-first wingnut. That aside, taking the version of history presented at face value, it's good to see human complexity and weakness writ large in a business book. Most business biographies are hagiographies, elevating some worthy CEO to Sainthood. Nobody gets a clear pass here because pressure and success amplify faults, whether indecision, greed, naivete, sloth. This much gels with my experience. Entertaining, and perhaps more thought-provoking than intended because I was closer to it that most readers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Kroopf

    This book is written like a bad valleywag or pando blog post. I knew very little going in and did learn a lot . Had no idea Dorsey was pushed out of the company and was at odds with the former founders. I had also never heard of Noah Glass, who was written out the company's history despite being on the founding team and coining the name Twitter. My problem was not with the facts, but how they were presented. The author pits Dorsey vs Williams and makes no attempt to hide that he is so clearly in This book is written like a bad valleywag or pando blog post. I knew very little going in and did learn a lot . Had no idea Dorsey was pushed out of the company and was at odds with the former founders. I had also never heard of Noah Glass, who was written out the company's history despite being on the founding team and coining the name Twitter. My problem was not with the facts, but how they were presented. The author pits Dorsey vs Williams and makes no attempt to hide that he is so clearly in favor of the latter. The problem is the author over emphasizes Dorsey's mistakes and lets Ev off the hook for his failed vision and lack of execution. He just glosses over the fact that Ev didn't see the vision for mobile and Dorsey did. As if it was just a minor flaw. Doesn't even mentioned that Twitter epically failed to build a mobile app in the beginning, letting TweetDeck swoop in. I'm sorry, but I don't care how "good of a guy" Ev was . That mistake was huge. So huge that it could have bought down Twitter and it also most did. The author spends a paragraph talking about how Uber media got close to undermining Twitter. Dorsey might be an A-hole, but he is not the dumb luck guy the author makes him out to be. He knew mobile was the future. He went built another billion dollar company on that! That's another point. Today , it is widely accepted that Twitters entire future is reliant on mobile. If your evaluating Jack's leadership ability or design capabilities how do you not treat Square as an after thought? The board didn't screw Ev over, like the author would have you believe. They were smart. They brought the guy in who can make good decisions. Williams missed the boat on mobile and for that he showed ineptitude that is not worthy for a CEO position. When Dorsey got pushed out of Twitter, he went and built the most disruptive financial product since PayPal. Square is already valued at 3 billion, 10x of Blogger. What has Williams done since he was pushed out? Dorsey has a lot of flaws, as do many successful leaders. As much as the author uses this book to bash on Jack, he can't argue with the facts.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marilee Turscak

    A thrilling and vivid narration of the formation of Twitter. It contains fascinating stories of the drama surrounding the history of founders Jack, Evan, Biz, and Noah. The journalism is incredibly detailed and thorough, and the story is a consistent page-turner. Author Nick Bilton compiles hundreds of interviews with Twitter employees and documents secrets never before revealed. It is much more interesting than the history of Facebook, and also far more controversial. A group of young, A thrilling and vivid narration of the formation of Twitter. It contains fascinating stories of the drama surrounding the history of founders Jack, Evan, Biz, and Noah. The journalism is incredibly detailed and thorough, and the story is a consistent page-turner. Author Nick Bilton compiles hundreds of interviews with Twitter employees and documents secrets never before revealed. It is much more interesting than the history of Facebook, and also far more controversial. A group of young, brilliant, and rebellious geeks from nowhere become friends and accidentally found one of the most successful companies in the world, only to lose much of what they earned in bitter rivalry. Lots of backstabbing, lots of fun personal stories, and a fair share of dark humor and irony. A brilliant piece of storytelling (even if you have no interest in Twitter).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thor

    Having observed this true story from close quarters I can say that Bilton captures the essence of it, at least from a human interest standpoint. One could quibble over details that don't really matter, but he distills something essential of the startup experience--that it's ultimately about human relationships and trust, and that these are hard won but easily lost.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Troy Blackford

    A fascinating and in-depth account of Twitter's creation and rise, from the conditions that led to its founders meeting to the shady and shabby way that the current power structure shook out. This is a seriously intense story! As people involved in the creation of the site have pointed out, it's a shame that it didn't delve more into the technical aspects of the site's creation more, as that would have been interesting to hear about. But the personal intrigues and difficulties are more than A fascinating and in-depth account of Twitter's creation and rise, from the conditions that led to its founders meeting to the shady and shabby way that the current power structure shook out. This is a seriously intense story! As people involved in the creation of the site have pointed out, it's a shame that it didn't delve more into the technical aspects of the site's creation more, as that would have been interesting to hear about. But the personal intrigues and difficulties are more than worthy enough of a book. This was intense! One thing I can say is that fiction definitely has an advantage that this non-fiction book doesn't: Any fiction book worth its salt that featured a character as conniving, backstabbing, whiny, and obsessive as Jack Dorsey would have dealt with him with satisfying maliciousness by the end. Pity that real life isn't as neat and tidy as a novel.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Pretty fascinating to read about the serendipitous nature of how the founders of Twitter got together...and how they came up with the idea and even the name. For example, Evan Williams was in a magazine photo (before Twitter was even a thought in his head) and his neighbor (Noah Glass) saw the picture, recognized the kitchen Evan was in, turned toward his window and realized the picture was taken in the apartment he was seeing from his window. He introduced himself to Ev...and the rest is Pretty fascinating to read about the serendipitous nature of how the founders of Twitter got together...and how they came up with the idea and even the name. For example, Evan Williams was in a magazine photo (before Twitter was even a thought in his head) and his neighbor (Noah Glass) saw the picture, recognized the kitchen Evan was in, turned toward his window and realized the picture was taken in the apartment he was seeing from his window. He introduced himself to Ev...and the rest is history. The failures, changing of business models, betrayals, office politics, ruined friendships and marriages as well as several staged coups are unbelievable. But, I guess you can put up with that rubbish for a while if you end up a billion dollars richer ;-)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

    Not only was Hatching Twitter informative about the history of Twitter, but after reading it I notice that Bilton was definitely much less biased towards one side (or any of the three other sides) when reporting on the events that transpired in Twitter's extremely volatile history. In Hatching Twitter Bilton does not shine an extremely positive, they-can-do-no-wrong light on all of the original cofounders of Twitter, which is the opposite of the prevalent theme in Kirkpatrick's descriptions of Not only was Hatching Twitter informative about the history of Twitter, but after reading it I notice that Bilton was definitely much less biased towards one side (or any of the three other sides) when reporting on the events that transpired in Twitter's extremely volatile history. In Hatching Twitter Bilton does not shine an extremely positive, they-can-do-no-wrong light on all of the original cofounders of Twitter, which is the opposite of the prevalent theme in Kirkpatrick's descriptions of Zuckerberg in The Facebook Effect. Bilton makes it very clear that the birth of Twitter was filled with hopes and aspirations of achieving friendship, but quickly grew into a terribly complicated and painful struggle for power by the cofounders and, as expected, the inescapable conflict of investors looking for money. There is a huge laundry list of things Bilton does better than Kirkpatrick, but perhaps thats just a classic Twitter vs Facebook clash. In the argument of Hatching Twitter against The Facebook Effect, I definitely do think the Twitter story has an advantage because it is simply a more recent event in history. Twitter's history is heavily intertwined with news sources and reporters that lead their respective industry's journalism departments like Om Malik and celebrities whose experiences with Twitter are examples of its tremendous growth and reach like Ashton Kutcher. Twitter's unique product leads to unique, interesting events. Who would have thought Snoop Dogg would show up at Twitter HQ one day for a business meeting only to end up inadvertently kicking off a lunch-room rave in the middle of the day filled with rapping and weed? All of this is complemented by Bilton's handling of the Twitter story. Sometimes it seems like Bilton is jumping from point to point without much of a connection between the two, but in a way that's the essence of Twitter: you jump from one 140-or-less-characters story to the next. In the end, the story of Twitter can be summarized as a Game of Thrones; the position of CEO at Twitter has changed hands so often with so many viable competitors willing to do anything to betray a former coworker or oftentimes a lifelong friend that it almost seems like a well-crafted fiction story. Regardless of all the drama, it makes for some very interesting storytelling.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    This is the story of the founders of Twitter. I have heard about Twitter but have never used it or been on its site so all this information is new to me. I knew nothing about Twitter until reading this book. I did not even know it was a local San Francisco company. Bilton tells the story of Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass and Christopher Stone the four founders of the company. The four men were working at a startup company called Odeo. Apparently at a brain storming session, they decided This is the story of the founders of Twitter. I have heard about Twitter but have never used it or been on its site so all this information is new to me. I knew nothing about Twitter until reading this book. I did not even know it was a local San Francisco company. Bilton tells the story of Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass and Christopher Stone the four founders of the company. The four men were working at a startup company called Odeo. Apparently at a brain storming session, they decided to build a mobile phone version of the “status updates” popularized by AOL. According to Bilton the growth into a global publicity machine just happened by accident. Glass was the one that came up with the name Twitter for the company. Bilton states that the company plunged from one operational fiasco to another. Bilton describes Glass as an erratic moper, Williams as a slow indecisive leader; Dorsey is the one Bilton cast in the role of a schemer, narcissist, incompetent and inept. Dorsey was demoted from CEO and blamed Williams who he set out to destroy. The way Bilton told the story I felt sorry for Dorsey in the beginning because of the way he was deposed as CEO, but as the story progressed he lost my sympathy due to his vindictive behavior. Glass appears to have been left behind particularly in the area of money. I had sympathy for Glass as I felt he was poorly treated by his co-founders. The book is well written and a fascinating read. Bilton did extensive research including interviews of the founders. The author primarily discussed what is wrong but they must have done many things right to build the company into a popular financial success. In many ways this book reads like a soap opera rather than a business book. Daniel May does a good job narrating the book. May is an actor who also narrates audiobooks.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Who comes out best? Biz, with Ev #2. Who comes out worst? Bill Campbell. Jack a close #2. What can a budding young tech CEO take away from this book? Never, ever hire Bill Campbell to be your CEO coach. Honestly, if there were a licensing committee for CEO coaches, if the tale in this book is true, Bill Campbell should be disbarred. It's a minor part of the book, but as someone who knew much of this while it was going on, it is by far the most shocking thing in the book. The rest of the book is Who comes out best? Biz, with Ev #2. Who comes out worst? Bill Campbell. Jack a close #2. What can a budding young tech CEO take away from this book? Never, ever hire Bill Campbell to be your CEO coach. Honestly, if there were a licensing committee for CEO coaches, if the tale in this book is true, Bill Campbell should be disbarred. It's a minor part of the book, but as someone who knew much of this while it was going on, it is by far the most shocking thing in the book. The rest of the book is solid. I would have loved more of the later days - Dick's monetization tactics, the board reshuffle, Jack's less-than-stellar return. But still. This is a book that needed to be written, and I thank Nick Bilton for doing it. Brilliant move. Way more of a story here than with Facebook.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Phil Simon

    Bilton's 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. In a word, Twitter was a complete mess--both in terms of technology, strategy, and management. It's amazing that the company is purported to be worth nearly $10B. I like that fact that Bilton pulls no punches, calling out self-anointed Steve Bilton's 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. In a word, Twitter was a complete mess--both in terms of technology, strategy, and management. It's amazing that the company is purported to be worth nearly $10B. I like that fact that Bilton pulls no punches, calling out self-anointed Steve Jobs's successor Jack Dorsey. Dorsey 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. Excellent read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    I guess I am in the minority with only four stars, but he lost a star for his writing style. I thought it was choppy, with more grammatical/typographical errors than I would have expected, and it was poorly divided up. For example, after a chapter/section heading of "#Jack" it would start with a story about Jack and then flip backwards to stories about Biz, or Bijan, or Ev. Which is fine it just didn't flow. It is clear that he is a journalist, and not a novelist. That being said, he put I guess I am in the minority with only four stars, but he lost a star for his writing style. I thought it was choppy, with more grammatical/typographical errors than I would have expected, and it was poorly divided up. For example, after a chapter/section heading of "#Jack" it would start with a story about Jack and then flip backwards to stories about Biz, or Bijan, or Ev. Which is fine it just didn't flow. It is clear that he is a journalist, and not a novelist. That being said, he put together an amazingly accurate factual history (I am friends with someone high up at Twitter who knows and confirmed this) based on emails and tweets, and that must have taken some serious time. The story itself is fascinating and I love that it all took place in San Francisco, (where I live) so I could literally picture each scene with total clarity. On the last day I was reading it, on the bus, I looked up and saw Jack Dorsey walking down the street, earbuds in, sparkly white tennis shoes on. It was crazy - I thought I had imagined it at first. The story itself is fascinating. It is also sad, and haunting, and should be a lesson, but probably won't be.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nikolay

    If anybody wrote fiction startup drama novels, they would surely be less dramatic than Twitter’s early history. Morals for me: * avoid working with your best friends * egos and power are more important than money – you can repay money, but revenge leads to more aggression * when stakes are high it’s “hunt or be hunted” situation * you can change the world * avoid drama.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    I know this is a true story but I was still so disappointed by the ending! Hah. Such a great read- I flew through it. So interesting to hear the background of Twitter from all the different sides of the story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dmytro Shteflyuk

    Have you ever wondered what would "Game of Thrones" look like in the modern world? This is the scariest book I have ever read, full dreadfully cruel office politics, mistakes, but also inspiration, leadership, and business lessons. The world will never be the same for me. Would I recommend this book to anyone close to the startups world? Hell yes, this should be your next book. Are you wondering what startup world looks like? Read the book. Interested in the story of how Twitter was born, and how Have you ever wondered what would "Game of Thrones" look like in the modern world? This is the scariest book I have ever read, full dreadfully cruel office politics, mistakes, but also inspiration, leadership, and business lessons. The world will never be the same for me. Would I recommend this book to anyone close to the startups world? Hell yes, this should be your next book. Are you wondering what startup world looks like? Read the book. Interested in the story of how Twitter was born, and how it was growing up? You will find the answers in this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yoly

    With more drama than a Mexican telenovela, this book tells the story of twitter. This book gives you the background of each of the founders and how they came together to create what we today call twitter. I was a big fan of Jack Dorsey but sadly this book took that away :) At first I was a little put off with the author's style. To me it seemed a bit pretentious because he started on an overly dramatic tone and you would think the author thought he was writing a novel. After I got further into the With more drama than a Mexican telenovela, this book tells the story of twitter. This book gives you the background of each of the founders and how they came together to create what we today call twitter. I was a big fan of Jack Dorsey but sadly this book took that away :) At first I was a little put off with the author's style. To me it seemed a bit pretentious because he started on an overly dramatic tone and you would think the author thought he was writing a novel. After I got further into the book I realized that any other type of narrative would've made this book really boring, so the style that at first I thought would take away at least one star from my review ended up pulling me into the story and wanting to know what happened next like a mystery novel. I listened to the audio version which had a great narrator.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Compelling narrative peels back layers of hype about Twitter. It is a rather sad story in many ways that might change your opinion about some people involved in the company. The book is particularly entertaining if you were using Twitter since the Fail Whale days. Good job by @NickBilton mining the social media record from a time when people were not as aware they were writing their own histories 140 characters at a time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nisha D

    This was such an interesting read! I'm not a twitter user and haven't cared enough about the company to follow it's growth over the years, so all of this information was new to me. I am a fan of Nick Bilton, I read American Kingpin last year and thought it was amazing. Hatching Twitter is just as well written and researched, I highly recommend it to tech lovers and non-fiction aficionados.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Reads like a high-tech soap opera but interesting nonetheless. What sticks for me is not the story of the company but the tale of how people who claim to be friends can be such schmucks to each other.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    I've never read about such a group of immature, whiny, backstabbing losers in my life! To think that some reviewers consider them brilliant is really pretty funny. They were mediocre thinkers with mediocre talent who couldn't cut it in real places, like Xerox PARC or Google, so they wind up at a start up, broke and desperate. The one who has had success, Ev, is good for the seed money. He at least founded Blogger, so he actually had done something, which was sold to Google for millions, making I've never read about such a group of immature, whiny, backstabbing losers in my life! To think that some reviewers consider them brilliant is really pretty funny. They were mediocre thinkers with mediocre talent who couldn't cut it in real places, like Xerox PARC or Google, so they wind up at a start up, broke and desperate. The one who has had success, Ev, is good for the seed money. He at least founded Blogger, so he actually had done something, which was sold to Google for millions, making him successful. The other three Twitter founders -- Noah, Jack, and Biz -- were pretty much losers. They founded a company called Odeo that was going to take podcasting by storm, but were beaten to the punch by Apple. Jack and Noah drunkenly came up with the idea for Twitter one night, as an idea to escape loneliness. Noah came up with the name. And so it began. Ev stayed in the background, Biz handled publicity, Noah was the CEO and Jack was in charge of Engineering. I believe, if my memory serves me. This didn't last long. They had a board with capital invested and soon there was rumbling, with Ev doing his fair share of the rumbling. And so Noah was forced out. Jack was brought on as CEO and Ev as chairman. Biz did what he did best. In a little while, Twitter starts taking off, slowly, very slowly at first, but surely. Jack didn't want hash tags, but they emerged and they were brilliant. However, it became clear to everyone that Jack couldn't run a company. They were losing money left and right, weren't making a dime, everyone was on edge, and Ev and the board had had it up to here. So more backstabbing. And Jack was out the door. To plot his revenge. Ev took over as CEO. After all, he had successfully run Blogger, so why not this? Sounded good. Twitter had bought another company a little while before this happened and Jack had asked their main engineer to become director of ops at Twitter, a position this man didn't feel he was qualified for. After Jack was gone, the board asked him for a briefing. He told them, in a state of disbelief, that there was no backup to the system. That if the system crashed, Twitter was gone. And that Twitter was held together with string and wires to begin with. Not good news. They got to work fixing that. Jack had been in way over his head. [Let me interject here. It's clear that the author HATES Jack in this book, and has a serious man crush on Ev, so you have to take everything written about them with a grain of salt.] Okay. Twitter has grown to millions and millions of users. Hosting many millions of tweets daily. Ev has helped people like Oprah tweet her first tweet live on TV. But Jack has been plotting with one of the board members, who -- and this is never clearly explained -- loves Jack dearly, to get Jack back into the company. I could go on and on, but long story short, Ev is backstabbed by Jack and the board, is shoved out the door, Jack comes back as head honcho, Biz quits, we never hear from Noah again, and Twitter continues on, in spite of total incompetence and arrogance. Good book to read, disgusting people to read about. Cautiously recommended.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    I don't really use Twitter. This isn't out of ignorance or confusion: I've been pretty well informed about Twitter since the beginning, given the amount of press it got in places like Lifehacker, and I've definitely signed up for the service more than twice. The issue for me has always been that it's fundamental purpose has never seemed clearly defined: is it for personal status updates to let friends and family know what you're doing? Should you use it as a promotional tool to direct people I don't really use Twitter. This isn't out of ignorance or confusion: I've been pretty well informed about Twitter since the beginning, given the amount of press it got in places like Lifehacker, and I've definitely signed up for the service more than twice. The issue for me has always been that it's fundamental purpose has never seemed clearly defined: is it for personal status updates to let friends and family know what you're doing? Should you use it as a promotional tool to direct people from Twitter to your website? Does it work best as a news service? Of course, the answer to all of these things is yes, which has left me feeling that Twitter was a little too scattershot for my tastes. Hatching Twitter, a narrative non-fiction account of the creation of the service that reminded me, more than once, of The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, reveals that no one at Twitter could really agree on what it was for, either. Jack Dorsey always saw it as a status update system, a way of letting people know what you're doing. Evan Williams, on the other hand, thought of it as microblogging. Twitter seemed to grow autonomously, creating it's own conventions with @ messages and hashtags, well beyond the concept the founders set out for the site. The book is an interesting look at how technologies sometimes seem to control and change themselves. This is also the story of personal in-fighting between the myriad founders, CEO's, and board members of Twitter. It's all super interesting, although I get the feeling that the story was quite a bit more nuance than Bilton makes it out to be. What does seem clear is that Twitter suffered from executives with unclear and undefined roles, who had major issues trying to monetize the service. It's all outlined in a page-turnery way, which is fun. Who knows, maybe I'll attempt to tweet about this book review. Maybe it will be the first in a long line of tweets. Or maybe not. As Bilton points out, more than once, the people behind Twitter desperately wanted to feel connected to others, and shouting into what feels like a cavernous abyss probably won't help there, even if your words echo back to you.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    About fifteen years ago during the dot com boom, my friend’s husband, a computer programmer whose office had been bought by some corporation or other, said that people can be divided into two categories: techs and corps. More than just computer progammers, techs are creative people who figure out innovative uses for the tools at hand. Corps, on the other hand, are people with tunnel vision who subsume all creativity under that vision. Now, I don’t entirely agree – there must be some tech-iness About fifteen years ago during the dot com boom, my friend’s husband, a computer programmer whose office had been bought by some corporation or other, said that people can be divided into two categories: techs and corps. More than just computer progammers, techs are creative people who figure out innovative uses for the tools at hand. Corps, on the other hand, are people with tunnel vision who subsume all creativity under that vision. Now, I don’t entirely agree – there must be some tech-iness to running a business – but the story of Twitter can be seen as what happens when success forces a bunch of techs to become corps. It began with four main guys: Ev Williams, Noah Glass, Jack Dorsey, and Biz Stone. All four were penniless techs who went to Silicon Valley to seek their fortune. Ev was the most successful; he’s the founder of Blogger, which was bought by Google for millions. He worked at Google for a while, which is where he met Biz, but being more tech than corp, he went out on his own to found another start-up, taking Biz with him. Noah and Jack found their way there through separate paths, and over drinks one night, the two of them came up with the concept of Twitter. In fact, the concept was more Noah’s than Jack’s, but when it came to development, all four plus many other staff members had a hand in it. As we all know, the idea grew beyond the expectations of its founders. But then things started to fracture. You can call it the tech/corp transition, plain old ego, or the inevitable trouble of working with friends, but the words of the subtitle – money, power, friendship, and betrayal – sum it up perfectly. The book focuses on the personalities and relationships and not just the business and technology, and with its frequent use of dialogue, it reads like a novel. If you use Twitter, you ought to read this book. And if you don’t use it, I bet you’ll soon start.

  26. 4 out of 5

    ddri

    Also known as "how to write a fast, engaging and sufficiently researched business narrative". Bilton suffers the same critics as adventure journalist Jon Krakauer, with complaints of flavouring a story or overlooking deeper themes for the sake of readability. What's masterful about their writing is to build a consistent narrative in the first place, performing the magic trick of condensing fearsome amounts of research and interviews into a series of pages that a reader wants to turn. Hatching Also known as "how to write a fast, engaging and sufficiently researched business narrative". Bilton suffers the same critics as adventure journalist Jon Krakauer, with complaints of flavouring a story or overlooking deeper themes for the sake of readability. What's masterful about their writing is to build a consistent narrative in the first place, performing the magic trick of condensing fearsome amounts of research and interviews into a series of pages that a reader wants to turn. Hatching Twitter succeeds incredibly. This isn't Isaacson's biography on Steve Jobs, all ten million pages and the shoes he wore, as much as an extension of journalism. Feature writing at its best. There will be other Twitter books that can dwell in depth, but the key points are bagged and tagged, with enough shock and entertainment value. Like how the &%*^ a $100M company "learned" that it had no backup of it's databases. At all. If some areas aren't dived into, it's perhaps a relief to the average reader with an above-average interest in such a disruptive service and it's infamously ramshackle operations. Sure, the VCs aren't given a lot of stage time or the best lighting, but this isn't their story. This is a genesis myth, a story of loneliness and connection, and a reminder of the cost, benefits and emotional investment of the startup realms. Unlike other enormous and laborious texts in this realm, Hatching Twitter is a fast and furious exploration, and one that has all but earned itself a place on the must-read shelves for emerging enterprises and enthusiastic startups that have yet to weather all four seasons of their chosen profession.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Don

    Wow - this is an unfortunate book stretched out to 300 pages of mostly nonsense. This is the type of story that should have been told in a 3-5 page magazine expose and not expanded for every minute detail of the Twitter founder's lives (Bilton stretches the writing out with tons of pseudo dialog and repetition). Additionally, this is simply a horrible tale of those in pursuit of startup wealth and fame vs. really adding value to the world. In a nutshell the story is - A creates a product, meets Wow - this is an unfortunate book stretched out to 300 pages of mostly nonsense. This is the type of story that should have been told in a 3-5 page magazine expose and not expanded for every minute detail of the Twitter founder's lives (Bilton stretches the writing out with tons of pseudo dialog and repetition). Additionally, this is simply a horrible tale of those in pursuit of startup wealth and fame vs. really adding value to the world. In a nutshell the story is - A creates a product, meets B, A likes B, B brings along C, A and C kindof get along, AB&C modify products to create T, along comes D, A dislikes D, D kicks B out, along comes money and fame - with rich outsiders who want to buy their company - Z, O, G, K etc. A kicks D out, new leaders come E, F and G, D schemes and gets A kicked out - you get the picture. Not worth reading or very enlightening. This is especially true since the most interesting problem with Twitter today is the foreign intervention utilizing bot technology. The book was published just a bit too early for that story to develop.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    It was a fast-paced read, and quite interesting for someone who remembers all of the growing pains. Had the company been managed more pragmatically, would we have been so familiar with the fail whale? The best sections were the early ones, while the last section seemed to just be an excuse to tell the Snoop anecdote. It's a good story, but that section covers years in a matter of pages. Biz is really the only one who comes out not looking like an asshole in the end. Bilton adds unnecessary color It was a fast-paced read, and quite interesting for someone who remembers all of the growing pains. Had the company been managed more pragmatically, would we have been so familiar with the fail whale? The best sections were the early ones, while the last section seemed to just be an excuse to tell the Snoop anecdote. It's a good story, but that section covers years in a matter of pages. Biz is really the only one who comes out not looking like an asshole in the end. Bilton adds unnecessary color at times, but doesn't seem to have an axe to grind.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Samarth

    Let's make better mistakes tomorrow Deeply engaging and hard to put down. I have read this book in one sitting. It's very fascinating to see a bunch of dropouts from mid tier college come together to push forward the idea of open world communication and it's quite interesting to see how twitter played a important role in Iran revolution and also at the same time snoop coming to Twitter HQ to smoke up weed. Highly recommend book for people who like how startup from 7 members turn into a company Let's make better mistakes tomorrow Deeply engaging and hard to put down. I have read this book in one sitting. It's very fascinating to see a bunch of dropouts from mid tier college come together to push forward the idea of open world communication and it's quite interesting to see how twitter played a important role in Iran revolution and also at the same time snoop coming to Twitter HQ to smoke up weed. Highly recommend book for people who like how startup from 7 members turn into a company worth 7 billion.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz Nalepa

    This is the story of Twitter. It is indeed full of twists, betrayals, struggles for power and.... nothing else. If you dear reader are looking for any specs of knowledge you will not find here any. Well, except "don't hire your friends" maybe. I was hoping for a lot more, for any business value at all, but instead I got only storytelling.

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