Twitter is not falling apart, says Biz Stone

15 Apr 2011

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has hit back at claims in Fortune Magazine that Twitter is in a state of disarray and reckons the toppling from the media pedestal was overdue anyhow.

“We founded Twitter, Inc. in March of 2007 and while we have long said it’s about the users, not the service, we have nevertheless enjoyed favourable media coverage. What took so long for somebody to write the article that says we are falling apart?” Stone asked in a company blog today.

Fortune writer Jessi Hempel yesterday reported that Twitter turned down a US$10bn offer from Google, a US$2bn offer from Facebook and pretty much painted a picture of a company in disarray and at war with itself.

But Stone reckons this is part of the media’s usual treatment of fast-growth tech companies.

“The normal press cycle is to put a company on a pedestal and then knock it down. It’s much more interesting that way. Twitter has had so many ups and downs you’d think we would have had more negative press. To me, it’s like watching the movie Rocky—he’s up, he’s down, he’s out, he wins!

Fortune magazine finally stepped up to knock us down with a cover article, Trouble@Twitter. Here are some examples of how this works. After mostly positive coverage of Facebook, Fortune finally published an article in April of 2009 titled, Is Facebook Losing Its Glow? However, later that year, they published, What Backlash? Facebook Is Growing Like Mad. Google received similar treatment. In July 2010, Fortune published, Google, The Search Party Is Over. Later that year, they published, Google Continues To Gain Search Marketshare.

“We’ve had lots of positive press from Fortune in the past. In July of 2010, they published an article titled, Twitter’s Business Model: A Visionary Experiment. The article ended with, ‘Facebook might want to take notes.’ It may seem odd, but from my perspective, this means we are being taken very seriously.

Twitter out to prove reporters wrong

“Twitter is an important company and it’s under scrutiny from journalists – this is exactly how it’s supposed to work. Now it’s our job to prove the reporters wrong so they can write an article later about how we have made dramatic progress.

“The Twitter team is an incredibly dedicated group of people who truly believe they are doing the most meaningful work of their lives. It’s also a very small group of people when compared to the other companies Fortune is investigating.

“We still have under 500 employees – many of them working weekends and nights to fulfil a potential that is palpable. For a long time, we refused to hire a communications group and now that we have one, I’m having fun teasing them about this Fortune article but the truth is, we’re long overdue to be knocked down by the press,” Stone said.