On this picture illustration, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s archived Twitter account is proven on a cellphone display with the Twitter emblem within the background.
Sheldon Cooper | Lightrocket | Getty Photos
A decade in the past, Twitter’s future was trying vibrant. The corporate was benefiting from a flood of funding into the social-networking area, ultimately resulting in an IPO in 2013 that raised $1.8 billion.
Now the corporate is again in non-public fingers. They usually occur to be the fingers of Elon Musk, the richest individual on this planet and one of many app’s most high-profile provocateurs.
It is a large second. Twitter has change into a key place for folks to debate, joke and hold forth in their very own circles of politics, sports activities, tech and finance. It is also served as a platform that provides voice to the unvoiced, serving to protesters arrange and categorical themselves in repressed regimes world wide.
Lately, nonetheless, Twitter and social media rivals like Fb have been on the middle of controversy over the distribution of pretend information and misinformation, generally resulting in bullying and violence.
Traders had grown involved about Twitter as a enterprise. The corporate was typically unprofitable, struggled to maintain tempo with Google and Fb, and infrequently killed fashionable merchandise with no actual rationalization.
What follows is a short historical past of Twitter, which — regardless of its many flaws — is without doubt one of the most iconic firms to come back out of Silicon Valley previously 20 years.
In March, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams created Twitter, which was initially a aspect undertaking stemming from the podcasting instrument Odeo. That month, Dorsey would ship the primary Tweet that learn, “simply organising my twttr.”
In July, Twitter obtained a $100,000 Collection A funding spherical led by Union Sq. Ventures. The app’s recognition began to blow up after being closely promoted by the tech group in the course of the annual South by Southwest convention.
Dorsey stepped down as CEO in October, and was changed by Williams. In keeping with the e-book “Hatching Twitter” by journalist Nick Bilton, Twitter’s board fired Dorsey over issues concerning the government’s administration fashion and public boastings.
Twitter’s recognition continued to soar, resulting in a high-profile appearance from Williams on Oprah Winfrey’s discuss present alongside superstar Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher would additionally write about Williams and Stone as a part of Time Journal’s Time 100 difficulty. Twitter was now a mainstream phenomenon.
Twitter reached area, with NASA Astronaut Timothy Creamer sending the primary tweet dwell from outer orbit. Behind the scenes, nonetheless, administration woes continued with Williams stepping down as CEO, replaced by working chief Dick Costolo.
Twitter turned an important social media instrument used in the course of the Arab Spring, the wave of antigovernmental protests all through Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Protesters used the positioning to publish stories and to arrange. Because the Pew Analysis Heart famous, Twitter’s function in “disseminating breaking information” was not “not restricted to the Arab uprisings – the demise of Whitney Houston, for instance, was introduced on Twitter 55 minutes previous to the AP confirming the story.”
Twitter’s attain expanded to 200 million lively customers. Barack Obama used the “platform to first declare victory publicly within the 2012 U.S. presidential election, with a Tweet that was considered roughly 25 million occasions on our platform and extensively distributed offline in print and broadcast media,” in accordance with company filings.
Twitter went public in November. The mixed wealth of Williams, Dorsey, and Costolo hit roughly $4 billion.
“I believe we have got an incredible set of ideas and techniques to extend the slope of the expansion curve,” Costolo advised CNBC on the time. “I’d take into account a few of them techniques, a few of them broader methods, in service of doing what I known as bridge the hole between the huge consciousness of Twitter and deep engagement of the platform.”
Slowing person development led to a number of inventory drops and analyst downgrades. Twitter additionally deemed 2014 the yr of the “selfie.”
In comparison with rivals like Google, Fb, and even LinkedIn, Twitter was beginning to appear like the runt of the Web litter. Twitter was nonetheless unprofitable as its advert enterprise struggled mightily towards its bigger rivals. Dorsey would additionally return as CEO of the corporate, whereas nonetheless sustaining the highest job at his different firm, Sq. (now Block).
Rumors started circulating that Twitter was trying to be acquired, with Salesforce as a possible suitor. In the meantime, Twitter and Fb had been criticized for his or her function in letting distinguished customers like Donald Trump, who would win the U.S. presidential election that yr, unfold deceptive data with out consequence.
“Having the president-elect on our service utilizing it as a direct line of communication permits everybody to see what’s on his thoughts within the second,” Dorsey stated on the time. “We’re positively coming into a brand new world the place all the things is on the floor and we are able to all see that in actual time and we are able to have conversations about it.”
For a second, Twitter gave the impression to be on the upswing. Its inventory was lastly trending upward as the corporate’s funds had been bettering. In the meantime, Trump as president continued to make use of Twitter as his megaphone. In keeping with Twitter’s personal knowledge, “Trump was the most-tweeted-about international chief on this planet and in the USA” that yr, CNBC reported.
Dorsey and Fb’s then-operating chief Sheryl Sandberg testified earlier than the Senate Intelligence Committee about alleged interference by Russia-linked actors within the 2016 election. Trump and fellow Republicans turned more and more vocal about alleged political bias by Twitter and different social media websites.
“In reality, from a easy enterprise perspective and to serve the general public dialog, Twitter is incentivized to maintain all voices on the platform,” Dorsey stated on the time.
Analysts discovered correlations between President Trump’s voracious use of Twitter and numerous markets, together with gold, underscoring the cultural energy of Twitter. Trump met with Dorsey — a Twitter spokesperson stated “Jack had a constructive assembly with the President of the USA in the present day on the president’s invitation.”
“They mentioned Twitter’s dedication to defending the well being of the general public dialog forward of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to reply to the opioid disaster,” the spokesperson stated.
As Covid-19 unfold throughout the globe, the unfold of misinformation dominated the web dialog. And Twitter continued to wrestle to develop its enterprise. The service was additionally hacked that yr, and miscreants gained entry to over a dozen high-profile accounts, together with these managed by Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, and Musk
Twitter completely banned Trump over inflammatory feedback the president made in the course of the U.S. Capitol riots in January that the corporate stated may result in “additional incitement of violence.” Trump would allege that Twitter staff “coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in eradicating my account from their platform, to silence me.” Later, Dorsey immediately stepped down as CEO and was changed by Parag Agrawal, the corporate’s chief expertise officer.
Musk took over Twitter after a protracted authorized spat that might have culminated this week in a trial in Delaware’s Court docket of Chancery. The Tesla CEO agreed in April to pay $44 billion for Twitter, however then tried to renege on the deal. He modified course and opted to proceed, strolling into the corporate’s San Francisco workplace on Wednesday with what gave the impression to be a porcelain rest room sink in his fingers.
“Getting into Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” he tweeted, with a video of his entrance.
Musk instantly started making adjustments, firing Agrawal, finance head Ned Segal, and head of authorized coverage Vijaya Gadde.
WATCH: Billionaire Elon Musk steps into Twitter HQ, sink in hand