Happy fifth Birthday Twitter! It seems almost preposterous that the social media behemoth has already survived 5 years and in reality, things are far from slowing down! Just like any successful business, Twitter has a story to tell so it only seems fitting to take a look back, see how Twitter started, and how it became the platform it is today.
Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, all programmers at Odeo Inc in California, were the creators of Twitter. They were looking for a way to send messages on their cell phones while trying to re-invent a dying company and thus Twitter was born. On March 21st 2006 Jack sent the first tweet “just setting up my twttr” and in the blink of an eye, a communications revolution had begun. The name was originally inspired by Flickr and was chosen over other alternatives including FriendStalker and Dodgeball. The dictionary definition of Twitter is “a short burst of inconsequential information.” According to Jack it was the perfect name because that’s exactly what the product was.
Fast-forward today, 200 million users later, and an early tweet in 2006 by Dom Sagolla stating “Oh, this is going to be addictive” seems quite accurate! Almost 460,000 new twitter accounts are started each day and more than 140 million tweets are sent out on a daily basis. Twitter has exploded from 8 employees in 2008 to over 400 and still growing. Because Twitter is a private company, their sources of revenue are not completely clear, but they list their revenue at a modest $150 million annually. They also license their stream of tweets to Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. Twitter is said to be worth about $4.5 billion dollars. The possibilities for the future are endless. Twitter could start selling traditional ad space on their site or even start charging for premium accounts that push business to their sites. The only thing we know for sure is that Twitter is no fad!
The 140 character “tweets”, which are the heart and soul of the site, are a length that was chosen for a reason. The founders knew that the limit for SMS was 160 characters so they figured 140 characters would leave enough space left over for a username. At first, typing in 140 characters seemed outrageous to a person with a lot to say like myself, but the micro blogging platform is one you become used to and it forces you to focus on what matters instead of wasting characters on nonsense.
These 140 character updates have ultimately changed the media, business and even the world of politics. News has a new medium with live tweeting and updates, political messages are now widespread and no longer controlled by a single group of leaders, and businesses are re-defining customer service and employee communication. The future seems bright with Twitter as new technological advances and creative uses of the platform are popping up everyday. So, in honor of five years, it only seems fitting to honor the social media giant that started a communications revolution and has allowed us to declare our cereal addictions, bad habits and personal preferences to the world since 2006. Cheers Twitter, may we celebrate many more years in the future!