Twitter’s Jack Dorsey named ‘Media Person of the Year’ at Cannes

15 May 2012

Twitter CEO, chairman and co-founder Jack Dorsey

Twitter CEO and chairman Jack Dorsey has been named the Cannes Lions ‘Media Person of the Year’. Previous recipients of the award include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and former CEO of Independent News & Media Sir Anthony O’Reilly.

Dorsey, who is also CEO of mobile payments firm Square, was given the award for the impact Twitter has had on media and society today.

“Since inventing Twitter in 2006 Jack Dorsey has, in an incredibly short space of time, brought to the world an entirely new way for people to communicate, share ideas, and learn new things,” Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions, said.

“It has become, in the meantime, a powerful social and political force, and is now part of the everyday global media language. The power and simplicity of what he has created has made Twitter a social phenomenon, and we are delighted to honour Jack with this award.”  

The Jack Dorsey story

A native of St Louis, Dorsey’s early fascination for mass transit and how cities function led him to Manhattan and programming real-time messaging systems for couriers, taxis, and emergency vehicles.

Throughout this work he witnessed thousands of workers in the field constantly updating where they were and what they were doing.

Dorsey came up with the idea for a site that would combine the broad reach of dispatch software with the ease of instant messaging. Within a short space of time, he had built a simple site, Twitter, where users could instantly post short messages of 140 characters or less, known as “tweets.”

On 21 March 2006, Dorsey posted the world’s first tweet: “just setting up my twttr.”   

Since then, Twitter has become a communication platform that instantly connects people everywhere to what’s most meaningful to them.

Twitter is accessible to anyone, via the web, on smartphones and on the simplest of feature phones.

There are now some 340m tweets per day and more than 140m active monthly users.

Dorsey co-founded Square in 2009. Square enables anyone to accept credit-card payments on their mobile device and has empowered hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses to start and grow a business.

Outstanding innovator

Dorsey was recognised as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and was named an “outstanding innovator under the age of 35” by MIT’s Technology Review.

“Brands have always used Twitter in creative ways to engage directly with customers,” Dorsey said.

“This award celebrates those brands and customers alike.”

Dorsey will receive his award on 20 June at the Palais des Festivals, in Cannes, France.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years