Biz Stone Questions

Did you go to his 7:30 talk on Oct 23?  Did you get to ask a question from the floor?

Please add your questions as a reply below.  Be sure to explain a little context to your question


Twitter from Space, courtesy of NPR

Did it come from something

he said?  Is it a follow up to your question or something else that was said?





Here is an interesting interview with him on the 5th anniversary of Twitter’s start.

This entry was posted in Company, tech/no, Technology and tagged , , , , , , by Jordi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jordi

I am an assistant professor in the Management School at Bucknell University. I specialize in organization theory, social networks, and studying the network society. I have three children, including twins. They love bouncing on the couch, legos, music, and my waffles. My wife teaches English at the same university. I am interested in most things, but these days, networks, social entrepreneurs, the environment, innovation, and virtual worlds. Finding Hidden Abodes and Shaking Iron Cages since 1972

21 thoughts on “Biz Stone Questions

  1. When did the name “Twitter” come into the picture? I’m sitting here listening to him talk about how Twitter causes a choreographed response (similar to birds in migration) of its follower and how these online thoughts and ideas unify all that read them. For example, one guy in a bar tweeted about how crowded it was, but his tweet caused people to leave and populate a new bar to capacity. Is this concept of a synchronized, bird-like response a result of the website’s identity/reputation or was it part of creating the name, logo, and verbiage (“tweeting”) that had made this website to successful?

    • Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, explained in an interview that they wanted the name to capture the idea of updating and receiving information from anywhere at any time.

      He said: “We wanted to capture that feeling: the physical sensation that you’re buzzing your friend’s pocket. It’s like buzzine all over the world. So we did a bunch of name-storming and came up with the word ‘twitch’…but ‘twitch’ is not a good product name because it doesn’t bring the right imagery…Look for words around it, and we came across the word ‘twitter’…The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds.’ And that’s exactly what the product was” (Jack Doresey LA Times).

      For more information about the origin of Twitter, check out this LA times article:

  2. One thing Biz talked about was the increasing amount of information (although not necessarily knowledge) with technology and online. Therefore, my question for Biz would be how do you create a simple product while still incorporating the increasing amount of information? At some point do you have to forfeit simplicity to include huge amounts of information?

  3. My question was sparked from the birds in migration idea as well. So when Biz was talking about how the men “flocked” from one bar to the other, it reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of the magical number of 150. The gist of this theory is that groups are successful when composed of 150 people. I believe it has to do with an individuals sphere of influence and the actual meaningful interaction. Anyways, so my question to Biz is whether he thinks twitter can get too big… whether an individual can have too many followers where the followers no longer interact as much and communication diminishes… whether there can be too much information accessible at once?

    • I have been doing a lot of reading on social media and why certain companies are more successful than others. Coversation, transparency, and authenticity are three attributes that are incredibly important for companies and social groups to have meaningful engagement on social media platforms. While I don’t have an answer for you, I wonder the same thing. I am curious how services like Hootsuite, where you can schedule tweets up to a month in advance, affects the communication and legitimacy among users. This contradicts the original mission of Twitter, where much of the charm of the service was providing instant updates to followers.

      With that said, I do think that Biz recognizes the massive influx of unregulated information that is driven by Twitter. As somewhat of a response, he developed his new platform, Medium. In a way, he and Twitter co-founder, Ev Williams, are combating what they created. They wanted to build a content network for the technology that exists today, and they incorporate their vision of what publishing should look like. They have developed a more exclusive way for people to post. In an interview with Williams, he describes that “it’s easy to forget this given how much pointless and destructive media is in the world. But there’s also more great stuff than ever before–and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what our smart devices and our networks that connect most of the planet might enable” (Ev Williams Welcome to Medium).

  4. As we enter the era of “Big Data” (or perhaps we’ve already been in it for quite some time –, what role will Twitter play in the collection, analysis, and application of this data? Will our clever tweets one day be used as advertising slogans? Is that legal? What are the terms associated with posting something on Twitter? Once we tweet, are our words open to public use or are there protective measures for tweeters?

  5. Im curious why Twitter never fully integrated photo or video. Were they trying to stay true to the “lean start-up” business plan? Hypothetically, they could have prevented photo/video micro blogs such as Instagram and Viddy. Twitter certainly had the resources and man power to create or integrate other elements of micro blogging/sharing, so why not?

  6. Early on during the talk, Biz talked about how a lot of people are waiting for the right circumstances to bring them success. I loved when he said that instead of waiting, you can create the circumstances in which success is possible. I’d be curious to see whether Biz thought that the success of Twitter was due to timing or rather circumstances that he created. And if the latter, in what ways did he create circumstances that would foster the success of his company?

  7. I am wondering what are Biz Stone and twitter’s attitude towards freedom of expression. Recently, English players were banned by FA from tweeting ahead of World cup qualifier in Poland (, and I am wondering whether is it acceptable for a sporting institution from banning players from expressing their opinion on the game, fan, or opposition tactics or whatever. Is it acceptable if a company follows suit and ban its employee from tweeting about company culture or products, or competitors, on the ground that tweeting might leak trade secrets or distracting to fellow employees?

  8. Something I thought was pretty interesting.. I think it stemmed from a question on the floor was how, as Biz said, humanity is ultimately ‘good’ and should be trusted with Twitter, yet than incessantly tweet about their daily lives and own thoughts. I love Twitter, and I agree that Twitter is rather entertaining – but let’s face it, people use it to write down their own thoughts and actions, like a status update. Biz said that this wasn’t the case, but then ten minutes later said he doesn’t understand why so many people follow him because he simply tweets about his son… slightly hypocritical if you think about it. But ANYWAY, then they were talking about how people should have the freedom to say whatever they want, society is good, there isn’t too much governmental policies regarding it BUT a boy recently tweeted a death threat about Obama and is now in court. So do we have freedom to say whatever? And isn’t there government regulation? I know that is an extreme case but you get my point.

  9. First, I’d just like to mention that I thought it was a really interesting, despite obvious, point he made about never running out of creativity as a resource. My question though is more about the structure of the Twitter organization. What is it like having gone through three CEOs in several years? Do the opinions of the main players in the organization differ much of the time on decisions made? Or do they generally have the same vision? What makes a good CEO in your mind? Furthermore, what makes a good CEO for a company like Twitter?

  10. Is there such a thing as too much freedom of speech? As an outlet for free speech (of 140 characters or less of course), Twitter allows anyone with internet access to voice their opinions whenever they want. In theory, this is like a simplified Facebook, but pretty cool nonetheless. But what happens when I open Twitter and see numerous extremely sexist and racist tweets authored by people I was friendly with (…not anymore). I realize that freedom of speech is a fundamental right of all Americans, but in this scenario I would have preferred to never see these particular “thoughts”…I know I can unfollow people on Twitter, but not quickly enough to erase those degrading tweets from my memory. Biz talked a lot about Twitter bringing people and causes together, but I think it’s important to think about ways that Twitter can pull people and groups apart as well.

    • Well, I tried to push him to acknowledge the dark side of technology in my part. I thought he was unwilling to go there.

      As to “too much freedom of speech,” we have already made some decisions about that as a society. For example, I can’t talk about how I want to kill the President. There are crimes of conspiracy (used against terrorism suspects) for the crime of talking about a crime. In the workplace, you sacrifice most of your guaranteed rights to free speech. Under employment at will, if I come to my workplace with a “Go Romney!” button, I can be forced to remove it or loose my job.

      Sometimes I think freedom of speech is understood as “I can say whatever the fuck I want.” I think it means your right to make political speech in public spaces is protected.

      As to your concern about bothersome tweets, I am not sure how one can set laws to deal with this that would not create more problems then they solve. But, there may be other solutions out there. For example, maybe technology can help? What if twitter had more filtering options for users?

      Also, what can you do? Can you make it clearer in your profile or through your actions that you do not appreciate those kinds of tweets?

      The analogue in the real world is this: if I wear a “Gay? Fine by me” t-shirt, I am unlikley to have my locker room buddies make gay bashing jokes around me.

  11. One of my favorite parts of Biz Stone’s story at the beginning was when he addressed the criticism that people have said about Twitter. He said that a lot of people have claimed how Twitter is a waste of time and isn’t even useful. “Neither is icecream but do we get rid of it?” No because just like icecream brings us joy, so does Twitter. Biz told us a lot about the work environment at Google, but I’m curious about what the work environment at Twitter is like. As a co-founder, Biz had a huge role in the company and I’m also curious about what specific responsibilities he had at the company. Biz also talked a little bit about how businesses use Twitter and he also emphasized how important it is to use the technology we have to do good things in the world. With that being said, I wonder what the most memorable campaigns were that he has seen on Twitter by a business. Whether or not the campaign is brand promotion or a community service initiative, I would love to know which campaign promoted on Twitter has had the greatest impact or greatest number of re-tweets.

    • Good question… what is impact? Simply retweeting? (So twitter-vers impact?) or you mean something in the world? Off the top of my head, some notable twitter-touched events- the rise of the Kardashians, political revolts in Iran, Ukraine, and Egypt, the rise of the food truck industry– but i wonder if someone is trying to measure this?

  12. Throughout the presentation I was trying to see his point of view through the lens of our shareholder vs. stakeholder debate. I found myself struggling to find a limit to the stakeholders of a social media site like Twitter. He mentioned how important it is to give back to the less fortunate and also the impact on journalism (big ups to Master Wald for his question) We have seen everything from celebrity/athlete controversies to the start of uprisings all linked to the use of Twitter. I would be curious to know how the executives at companies like Twitter and Facebook account for this widespread reach and what kind of efforts they have to make in order to satisfy the immense amount of stakeholders.

    • Good point. My first thought is that in a way, with so many stakeholders, their hands-off, libertarian approach means that the emergence of organization and order (the flock of birds) is itself a whole new space for stakeholders to emerge. What I mean is that the twitter-user stakeholder relationship is not merely dyadic, one to many, but that twitter also has a stakeholder relationship to the “organizing space” that twitter enables. Whatever emerges there, Twitter has decided to let those dynamics play out with minimal interaction from twitter.

      Dyadic- a network term meaning one to one relationship.

  13. One of the things I noticed about Biz Stone’s presentation was that he never talked about any details regarding how he financially supported the launch of Twitter. This past summer I interned at a boutique executive search firm that specialized in recruiting for venture backed high growth startups and Twitter happened to even be a client. Needless to say, I got a lot of experience with startups, especially cause the firm was a startup itself. I did a lot of research for the CEO around venture capital and funding rounds, so my question for Biz would be…

    Did Twitter receive venture capital funding or was it privately funded? If so, how many rounds of funding to Twitter secure? How has the funding morphed the company into what it is today?

  14. I would have asked a three-prong question. I am interested to know how Biz Stone believes Twitter has changed the most since he left his duties there. He said that he hasn’t been involved with Twitter’s operations in about a year, and in my opinion the past year has been the biggest that Twitter has ever seen. Buzz has picked up significantly, and Twitter is now integrated in everything from TV shows to commercials to magazine articles. How, if at all, have operations changed? How are they different from when he was in charge? And, what made Twitter really take off?

  15. My question for Biz stemmed from a paper I recently wrote in my International Relations class regarding the aptly named ‘Twitter Revolution’ in Iran in 2009. The Iranians protesting the election results were using Twitter to coordinate and to inform the world about their oppression. Twitter was planning to take their site down for a day of maintenance, but the U.S. State Department asked them to keep the site up. Twitter did so, but maintained the decision was not politically motivated. I would have liked to ask Biz how Twitter keeps itself out of the political world, and to what degree do they succeed? (also applicable re- censorship in China)

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