Commentary

Biz Stone Says He Will Be Biz Stone At Twitter Again

Biz Stone, one of the four co-founders of Twitter way back in 2006, is returning to the company “to guide the company culture, that energy, that feeling,” as he writes in a post on Medium, which he also co-founded. “I’m not replacing anyone at Twitter. Somebody mentioned I’m just filling the ‘Biz shaped hole’ I left. You might even say the job description includes being Biz Stone,” he continues.

As The Verge’s Casey Newton explains, “Stone left Twitter in 2011 to build Jelly, a truly terrible search engine, which sold for scrap to Pinterest in March. At the time, Stone promised to work out of Pinterest’s offices part time, and to serve as a special adviser to Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp. So there is now a ‘Biz shaped hole’ at Pinterest, and the job description of being Biz Stone will have to go to someone else.”

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Meanwhile, there are still details to be hammered out at Twitter.

“It’s not exactly clear what Stone’s title will be, but a source familiar with the move says he’ll report to Twitter CMO Leslie Berland and help with internal communications and morale at the company,” writesRecode’s Kurt Wagner.

Stone is returning at the request of fellow co-founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey, who himself returned to try to revive the floundering company almost two years ago, Hannah Kuchler reports for Financial Times. Dorsey asked Stone back when he was a special guest “during a relaunch of the company’s weekly Friday afternoon tradition of ‘tea time’ for employees in San Francisco,” she writes.

“I realized in that moment that Twitter was the most important work of my life,” Stone says.

Other executives with less nebulous responsibilities have apparently not drunk the Kool Aid, however.

“Stone is returning to a very different Twitter than the company he left — one that has seen an exodus of top staffers amid the loss of a key NFL streaming deal and quashed prospects of a sale of the company,” Anita Balakrishnan reports for CNBC.com.

“Chief operating officer Adam Bain was a high-profile departure last year, leaving Anthony Noto in charge of the company's finances and operations. CEO Jack Dorsey is also running Square, a job top shareholders say splits his focus. And the company has yet to formally announce a replacement for former chief technology officer Adam Messinger or product gurus Noah Pepper and Jinen Kamdar.”

On the other hand, reportsTechCrunch’s Fitz Tepper, “Twitter diehards are reacting positively to the news — many think that Twitter needs to get back to its roots, and what better way to do it than bringing back a co-founder? The market also seems to be happy. TWTR stock immediately jumped 2% on the news, reaching a three-month high of $19.62.”

That’s an immediate boost to Stone’s own net worth.

“Mr. Stone continued to advise Twitter, he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in 2014. At the time, he said he retained ‘significant equity’ in the company, whose share price has fallen by more than 50% since the IPO. Twitter declined to comment on his current equity holding,” reports the WSJ’s Georgia Wells.

Stone “was instrumental in molding the company's corporate culture that drew top recruits from Google, Facebook and YouTube,” points out Jessica Guynn for USA Today. “He had a utopian vision of what Twitter could be inside and out, commenting shortly before leaving the company that ‘Twitter was built on the fundamental belief that people are good and that if you give them the tools, they will do good things.’

“That hasn't been the case in recent years as Twitter has been beset by an epidemic of hate speech and abuse that has driven users from the platform and contributed to pronounced stagnation in user growth,” Guynn continues. “And the attention that its most controversial user, President Donald Trump, has brought to Twitter hasn't always been positive.”

Then again, some of us who haven't paid much attention to Twitter in years are suddenly compulsively checking to see the latest from @nytimes, @washingtonpost and @thehill, not to mention “citizen journalists” such as @Louisemensch, @TrueFacts Stated and @mikefarb1. And here it is 7:11:09 and we’ve read nothing controversial yet from @realDonaldTrump.

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