In this picture illustration, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s archived Twitter account is proven on a telephone display screen with the Twitter emblem in the background.
Sheldon Cooper | Lightrocket | Getty Images
A decade in the past, Twitter’s future was trying vivid. The firm was benefiting from a flood of funding into the social-networking area, ultimately main to an IPO in 2013 that raised $1.8 billion.
Now the corporate is again in personal palms. And they occur to be the palms of Elon Musk, the richest individual in the world and one of many app’s most high-profile provocateurs.
It’s an enormous second. Twitter has develop 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’s additionally served as a platform that provides voice to the unvoiced, serving to protesters manage and categorical themselves in repressed regimes around the globe.
In latest years, nonetheless, Twitter and social media rivals like Facebook have been on the middle of controversy over the distribution of pretend information and misinformation, typically main to bullying and violence.
Investors had grown involved about Twitter as a enterprise. The firm was typically unprofitable, struggled to preserve tempo with Google and Facebook, and sometimes killed standard merchandise with no actual clarification.
What follows is a quick historical past of Twitter, which — regardless of its many flaws — is among the most iconic corporations to come out of Silicon Valley in the previous 20 years.
In March, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams created Twitter, which was initially a facet venture stemming from the podcasting instrument Odeo. That month, Dorsey would ship the primary Tweet that learn, “just setting up my twttr.”
In July, Twitter obtained a $100,000 Series A funding spherical led by Union Square Ventures. The app’s recognition began to explode after being closely promoted by the tech group through the annual South by Southwest convention.
Dorsey stepped down as CEO in October, and was changed by Williams. According to the guide “Hatching Twitter” by journalist Nick Bilton, Twitter’s board fired Dorsey over considerations in regards to the government’s administration fashion and public boastings.
Twitter’s recognition continued to soar, main to a high-profile look from Williams on Oprah Winfrey’s speak present alongside movie star Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher would additionally write about Williams and Stone as a part of Time Magazine’s Time 100 challenge. Twitter was now a mainstream phenomenon.
Twitter reached area, with NASA Astronaut Timothy Creamer sending the primary tweet stay from outer orbit. Behind the scenes, nonetheless, administration woes continued with Williams stepping down as CEO, changed by working chief Dick Costolo.
Twitter turned an important social media instrument used through the Arab Spring, the wave of antigovernmental protests all through Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Protesters used the location to submit studies and to manage. As the Pew Research Center famous, Twitter’s position in “disseminating breaking news” was not “not limited to the Arab uprisings – the death of Whitney Houston, for example, was announced on Twitter 55 minutes prior to the AP confirming the story.”
Twitter’s attain expanded to 200 million energetic customers. Barack Obama used the “platform to first declare victory publicly in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, with a Tweet that was viewed approximately 25 million times on our platform and widely distributed offline in print and broadcast media,” in accordance to company filings.
Twitter went public in November. The mixed wealth of Williams, Dorsey, and Costolo hit roughly $4 billion.
“I think we’ve got a tremendous set of thoughts and strategies to increase the slope of the growth curve,” Costolo informed CNBC on the time. “I would consider some of them tactics, some of them broader strategies, in service of doing what I referred to as bridge the gap between the massive awareness of Twitter and deep engagement of the platform.”
Slowing consumer development led to a number of inventory drops and analyst downgrades. Twitter additionally deemed 2014 the yr of the “selfie.”
Compared to rivals like Google, Facebook, and even LinkedIn, Twitter was beginning to appear like the runt of the Internet 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, Square (now Block).
Rumors started circulating that Twitter was trying to be acquired, with Salesforce as a possible suitor. Meanwhile, Twitter and Facebook have been criticized for his or her position 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 using it as a direct line of communication allows everyone to see what is on his mind in the moment,” Dorsey mentioned on the time. “We’re definitely entering a new world where everything is on the surface and we can all see that in real time and we can have conversations about it.”
For a second, Twitter appeared to be on the upswing. Its inventory was lastly trending upward as the corporate’s funds have been bettering. Meanwhile, Trump as president continued to use Twitter as his megaphone. According to Twitter’s personal information, “Trump was the most-tweeted-about global leader in the world and in the United States” that yr, CNBC reported.
Dorsey and Facebook’s then-operating chief Sheryl Sandberg testified earlier than the Senate Intelligence Committee about alleged interference by Russia-linked actors in the 2016 election. Trump and fellow Republicans turned more and more vocal about alleged political bias by Twitter and different social media websites.
“In fact, from a simple business perspective and to serve the public conversation, Twitter is incentivized to keep all voices on the platform,” Dorsey mentioned on the time.
Analysts discovered correlations between President Trump’s voracious use of Twitter and varied markets, together with gold, underscoring the cultural energy of Twitter. Trump met with Dorsey — a Twitter spokesperson mentioned “Jack had a constructive meeting with the President of the United States today at the president’s invitation.”
“They discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis,” the spokesperson mentioned.
As Covid-19 unfold throughout the globe, the unfold of misinformation dominated the web dialog. And Twitter continued to battle 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 through the U.S. Capitol riots in January that the corporate mentioned may lead to “further incitement of violence.” Trump would allege that Twitter employees “coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing 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 know-how officer.
Musk took over Twitter after a protracted authorized spat that might have culminated this week in a trial in Delaware’s Court 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 appeared to be a porcelain rest room sink in his palms.
“Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” he tweeted, with a video of his entrance.
Musk instantly started making modifications, firing Agrawal, finance head Ned Segal, and head of authorized coverage Vijaya Gadde.
WATCH: Billionaire Elon Musk steps into Twitter HQ, sink in hand