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Captains of Industry

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Ev Williams was young and wealthy. He had built Blogger, an easy-to-use web publishing tool that got acquired by Google, and he founded a company called Odeo when he left Google (post IPO) in 2004.

Noah Glass had a product where you could call a phone number, and it would turn your message into an MP3 hosted on the internet. That was the technology that turned into Odeo, and Noah was Ev’s co-founder.

Suffice it to say that Odeo was a dud. Funny thing, though, Ev knew it was going to be a dud. He prematurely opened the Odeo kimono to a team at Apple in 2005, and sure enough, Apple announced just a couple of weeks later that they were going to put a podcasting platform on iTunes, thereby rendering Odeo’s technology obsolete.

The employees of ODEO, which consisted of some of the smelliest, nose-ringiest, hairiest hackers in all of Silicon Valley, began to realize that Apple had just crushed them without warning, and they started working on side jobs. Noah started working with the young Jack Dorsey, and they presented the concept for Twitter to Ev in February, 2006. It was a system where you could send a text to one number and it would be broadcasted out to all of your friends. Noah even had the name for it, Twttr-- probably because this was back in the days when Flickr was cool-- and that of course quickly morphed into Twitter.

Ever the opportunist, Ev called a meeting with Odeo’s shareholders, who had invested approximately $5 million up to that point. He told them that Odeo wasn’t going to make it, that Apple had rendered their original technology useless, and that he felt badly. In fact, he felt so badly that he would personally buy back all of the shareholders’ stock.

Does it sound like Ev Williams conned the Odeo shareholders? Could Ev have known this would be the most influential technology of the young century and hid it while re-capitalizing the company? Yup.

According to the fourth Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, “Ev could see that we (Biz and Jack) were really into it, and so he took us aside and was like, “You guys should keep working on this. There is something to this mixing the web with SMS-- nobody else is doing that.”

Ev even aced out his co-founder Noah Glass at the encouragement of Jack. He bought back all of Odeo, then fired Noah and started doling out the stock as he saw fit, mostly to Biz and Jack. Noah Glass made virtually nothing from Twitter’s IPO.

Jack even became the CEO-- before Ev fired him in 2008, which was when Jack, realizing what a dagger it would be in Ev’s back, ran over to Facebook and begged them to hire him. The story just goes on and on like this, Ev screwing shareholders, Jack screwing Noah, Ev screwing Jack, Jack screwing Ev.

The point is that nobody cared about who owned Twitter until it was Elon Musk. If @ssholes could fly, Twitter’s headquarters would have been converted into an airport long before the IPO.


I have had a Twitter account for more than a decade, but I never spent any time on it until about a year ago. So, I was late to the party, but that was still well before there was any talk of Musk buying Twitter.

I have always looked at social media platforms like this:

· LinkedIn: a bunch of amateurs doing their own p.r.

· Facebook: comments about your mom’s breakfast

· Instagram: Emily Ratajkowski

· Twitter: warfare

I’m a bit of a voyeur on Twitter; I don’t post much there. And I don’t follow that many people, which may be why I don’t notice much of a change since Musk’s takeover. I’ve always thought it was pretty nasty, and I confess to continuing to delight in the Inverse Cramer account.

Musk posted a survey on Twitter last night asking whether he should step down as its CEO, pledging to abide by the results. 57% voted yes, so I guess we’ll just have to see what happens. I don’t really care.

But that Bankman-Fried guy… He with the Stanford Law professor parents who was born on the campus of Stanford University and who attended tony Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough, now, that’s a Silicon Valley story I care about.

Click here to invest with Chad.

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