In this success story we are going to share the life story of Jack Dorsey, an American businessman and web-developer, known as a co-founder and co-creator of Twitter and the founder and CEO of Square, a mobile payments’ company. Sometimes even the most unexpected ideas can turn into a great business. For example, a product with a catchy name “Twitter” arose from a desire of a young programmer Jack Dorsey to be constantly aware of what’s going on with his friends. He was a pioneer in establishing microblogging service and now we can see how it moves the world.
Jack Dorsey was born in St. Louis (Missouri, USA) on November 19, 1976. While being a teenager, he loved computers and could spend hours studying one of the first versions of IBM. He wanted to draw a live map of New York City, which would display numerous small moving dots in a real time: ambulance cars, police crews, fire brigades, taxi cabs and etc Jack’s passion to the cities and towns can be easily explained by constant travel of his father Tim Dorsey, who was an engineer of medical equipment and received many offers across America. The Dorsey family has managed to change a few houses in its native St. Louis, as well as to settle briefly in Denver, CO. Wherever they’ve just moved in, Jack immediately managed to buy a local map and to go on a walk around the city until the late night. His mother Marcia Dorsey thinks that it was a form of protection from new people.
The very first thing they people remember about Jack is what a quiet boy he was! There’s an explanation to this fact. He was stuttering and, thus, preferred to keep silence. Young Dorsey solved this problem by himself after giving up on the medicine. The boy purposely participated in various oratory competitions and after several failed attempts, he was able to speak normally. Later, this “conquering” way to solve problems helped him survive in difficult conditions in New York and San Francisco.
According to the sources from Jack’s native school Bishop du Bourg High School in St. Louis, Missouri (several generations of Dorsey’s went there), he was an ordinary American disciple: played in tennis team, loved drawing and Art history, worked for the school newspaper and, of course, was a member of a computer club. The last one was his favorite but not an obsession as it did for Bill Gates or any other aspiring programmer. However, Jack undoubtedly has got a talent.
According to Jack Dorsey himself, he could have become a great expert in urban planning but his childhood passion to city maps took over. At first, he tried to transfer road atlases into digital format and then using an electronic bulletin board (Bulletin Board System is a prototype of the Internet), put moving objects on his map. The result was a kind of a real city but in a miniature. Jack’s first programming experience occurred when he was 14 years old. The boy wrote a few programs for taxi dispatching and firefighting services. Some people say that the idea of Twitter came to him just in one of those moments when he heard the drivers talking with each other about where they were and what they were doing. According to another source, the roots of this idea are coming from an earlier passion of Jack.
Intern, masseur, programmer
In summer of 1991, Jack joined Mira Digital Publishing Company. The boy showed up in the office of his boss, Jim Makkilvi, when he was in the middle of a very important project. Jim promised to talk to Dorsey in a minute but, as it often happens, immediately forgot about it and went back to work. After a couple of hours, the young talent was still standing at the same spot and waiting patiently. A few weeks later a teenager Jack Dorsey was leading the team of the programmers in their thirties. Employees once asked the chief how Jack’s position was called. Makkilvi gave them a sharp answer: “He’s an assistant of the summer intern”.
After leaving the native ground of St. Louis, Jack Dorsey entered the Missouri University of Science and Technology, but two years later moved to New York City – a city he had dreamed of since childhood. His passion to urbanity was becoming something bigger than just a simple entertainment. Now Jack wanted to get his moving dots on the map to communicate with each other and tell where they are now and what they are about to do. “What’s happening?” – is the core question that users answer in Twitter today.
Dispatch Management Services Corp was the next company Dorsey got in. From Jack Dorsey biography we learned that he simply hacked the security system of the company’s website and emailed DMSC’s top manager Greg Kidd with recommendations on how to patch the hole created by Dorsey. Despite of the potential threat of being arrested, Jack was hired in the company. There he learned about a short messaging system (SMS), as well as about a new program through which dispatcher could view movements of couriers in a real time mode.
For several years Dorsey has worked on the creation of software for taxi and ambulance cars, and played a crucial role in the promotion of the new project of Greg Kidd called dNet.com. However, after the dot-com bubble in 2000, the project failed and Dorsey was left unemployed. He has been freelancing for almost five years and even went to massage therapy courses.
Later, Dorsey was hired by Odeo Company, which specialized in the Internet startups. It was located in Silicon Valley (San Francisco), headed by the talented programmer and businessman Evan Williams, who previously worked with Sergey Brin at Google. In 2006, Odeo began to experience financial crisis, and most importantly, the ideological difficulties. Evan suggested his team to divide into a few groups and come up with several new products. Then, one day, sitting on the playground and eating Mexican fast food, Jack Dorsey told the world about the idea of service that would allow users to share their minds online. This is how SMS service was introduced to the U. S market. It is interesting to know that while European teenagers have been already texting each other for a long time, the United States, a country of high technology, only made the first step into the exploration of this simple service.
Jack proposed to use SMS in order to send messages by a special program that would then spread them around friends list (hence the limitation in the number of allowed characters is 140). It took Dorsey and his friend two weeks to write a code and to come up with a name Twitter and the blue bird logo.
In teenager years Jack Dorsey had different brilliant ideas which he carefully noted in his a notepad. For the embodiment of all the ideas, young Jack had neither funds nor spare time. Over time, this notepad was hidden in one of the many boxes in a closet.
The world would not have seen Twitter today if one day Jack did not do a general cleaning, during of which he found the notepad with bunch of ideas listed there.
After looking through the notepad, imbued with memories, and realizing that nothing of it has been done in this life, Jack decided to realize his youthful plans.
Jack wanted to share his insight with his old friends and he realized that all of them were far away, but it would be great if they could read his thoughts. This is how the idea of creating Twitter appeared, which Jack and his friend created in two weeks.
The first Tweet
The first entry in the microblogging service Twitter appeared on March 21, 2006. Jack Dorsey wrote in his account: “just setting up my twitter”. The first public version of the service appeared in June 2006.
At the beginning, Americans were saying that Twitter is nonsense. Even Evan Williams once compared the project with an ice cream, saying that it’s also both tasty and equally useless.
It was a great surprise, when Odeo, which was supporting the initiative of young programmers, ran out of money. In less than a month after the Twitter’s launch, Jack had to think about how to raise more funds and survive as a separate company. “We did not have enough time to digest what happened when suddenly we received a note with an invitation for a breakfast”. – Dorsey reminds – “We met with its author in a hotel in San Francisco. There has been a fairly short but productive conversation. When we came back to the office in 30 minutes, we found a scanned image of a half a million-dollar check in our inbox.”
It was a Fred Wilson, who offered himself not only as a sponsor, but also as a strategic consultant of Twitter. Despite of the tough schedule, he always found enough time for a piece of advice. Moreover, his strategy was not only focused on the global picture but also on the smallest details of Twitter usage. The new sponsor came to work with a variety of questions and requests, which helped him to understand the ideas and thoughts of the team. As a result, Fred has supported Twitter not only financially, he also contributed to the successful management of Twitter.
However, with the development of smartphones it has become easier to send messages via the Internet than via SMS. According to Similar Web analytics tool Twitter has 2.2 billion visits monthly.
The widespread popularity of the novelty began after South by Southwest Film Festival in 2007, where the company’s employees installed multiple screens, displaying real-time messages from the users of the service. By this step, the creators of Twitter managed to increase the number of daily tweets from twenty to sixty thousand. Just a year later, in May 2008, the billionth message was sent through Twitter. The company began to develop and as a result its market capitalization reached the point mark of $1.5 billion.
An opportunity to exchange short messages simultaneously with millions of people around the globe turned Twitter into a dangerous political weapon. For instance, in Iran, with the help of this service people managed to gather in a huge protesting crowd just in a few days. Something similar happened in Moldova, Guatemala and Uganda. The U.S. State Department even invited Jack Dorsey to come to Iraq in order to teach local Prime Minister how to tweet. By the way, a former security adviser of the U.S. Mark Pfayfel even took an initiative to nominate Dorsey and other creators of Twitter for the Nobel Peace Prize for their impact on Iran’s future.
Thinking of multiplying his wealth, Evan Williams persuaded the board of Twitter to shift Jack Dorsey from his position. In October 2008, Dorsey was moved from his post of the Executive Director of Twitter and stopped his active work in the company.
In 2010, Evan Williams could not handle it anymore and left the post passing it to another top manager of Twitter Inc. – Dick Costolo, who later decided to return Dorsey to the position of the Executive Chairman. In March 2011, Jack Dorsey initiated the dismissal of four managers, who played a key role in implementing strategy of the service under the leadership of co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone.
On June 10, 2015, Dick Costolo announced that he was resigning as CEO of Twitter effective July 01, 2015. Jack Dorsey took the position of Interim CEO. On October 05, 2015, Jack Dorsey was assigned as the permanent CEO of Twitter.
Today, Jack Dorsey combines his time at Twitter with the development of Square, Inc. The project was supposed to be called ‘Squirrel’. Such a strange name according to the legend was explained by the fact that the miniature gadget for making credit card mobile payments’ looked like an acorn. However, the final product looked quite different: a small cube with a pin contact on one of its sides. As a result, the device got a name Square.
Dorsey explains that Square is a specialized reader, which is inserted into a mobile phone through the headphone jack. There is a magnetic stripe reader of bankcards inside, which allows obtaining information about the credit card being placed in it.
As stated by Roelof Botha in 2011, one of the leaders of Sequoia Capital (the company invested in Square $27.5 million dollars), they have been tracking progress of Square service during the past 18 months. However, he noted that millions of small businesses currently still did not accept credit cards in the United States. According to him, it gives a huge potential customer audience for Square.
On August 8, 2012, Starbucks invested $25 million in Square. In addition, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz joined Square’s board. For Square itself, the partnership with the largest coffeehouse chain is more important than money as it will help to introduce the new service to a huge amount of Americans.
How twitter makes money?
Why did Jack Dorsey failed to earn a huge fortune on Twitter? Some experts believe that he was far ahead of his time. According to this theory Twitter is one of the first products of the so-called web 2.0. To cut it short the usage of Twitter is determined by its users, where they can post tweets about a delicious lunch, self-promotion, to inform about cataclysms faster than traditional media, as well as to gather large numbers of people. Facebook and Google by contrast have limited tools, which makes users’ behavior more predictable; in addition, social networks are convenient for making money through advertising. Dorsey originally did not want his company to make money, he wanted it to make news.
A few years ago, Stanford University professor Steve Blank said that Dorsey was not even particularly interested in money making; probably, because of modesty that was inculcated from his childhood. Being already world-famous Jack lives mostly in rented apartments and spends a lot of time using his famous name to raise money for various charities.
However, in October 2009, Twitter was able to get its first revenue. According to BusinessWeek magazine, Dorsey earned $25 million, signing a contract with Google Inc. and Microsoft. The essence of the deal: Twitter messages become visible for Google and Bing. Later, he rejected Facebook’s purchase offer.
According to the last news, the value of Twitter shares increased by 182% since the company’s stock soars in IPO on November 07, 2013. Initially, the stock price was $26, but rose to more than $45 on the first day of trading. This demonstrates that Twitter selected a conservative strategy at the initial offering, analysts said.
Nowadays, almost 85% of Twitter’s revenue comes from online advertising on its site. Twitter offers three main ways for a company or an individual to advertise on its website: by promoting a tweet that will appear in users’ timelines, promoting a whole account, or promoting a trend.
Jack Dorsey’s secrets to success
One of Dorsey’s personality traits is that he works very hard. He spends eight hours at Twitter and then goes to the neighborhood street, in order to work another eight hours at Square. Both of his companies are rapidly evolving and require full commitment from him. So how does Jack Dorsey have enough time and energy to manage everything? He has per-minute working plan for every single day.
Here’s Dorsey’s work schedule for every day:
- Monday: Meetings and running the company’s work;
- Tuesday: Work on the key product components;
- Wednesday : Marketing, positioning and growth;
- Thursday : Developers and partnerships;
- Friday: The company itself and its culture.
Weekends are running a little slower Dorsey says. On Saturday, for example, he walks, and on Sunday he focuses on feedback s and strategy of his companies.
As of October 20, 2015, Jack Dorsey has a net worth of $2.3 Billion and admitted by Forbes as one the richest billionaires on the planet. He is single. Jack considers his greatest achievement to date is building a company of people who love their work.
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