What do you work on after launching one of the largest social networks in the world? It took some time, but each of the three Twitter founders appear to have come up with their own answers to this question.
Ev Williams stepped down as Twitter’s CEO in late 2010 and scaled back his role at the company in the months that followed. He pursued new projects at The Obvious Corporation, a startup incubator that Twitter’s co-founders launched in the mid-2000s, and which served as the original home of Twitter. A few months later, Biz Stone announced that he too would be stepping away from day-to-day duties at Twitter and joining Williams at Obvious to focus on new projects.
Since then, the two Twitter founders and their team at Obvious have helped launch several startups including Medium and Branch, and have worked with or invested in a number of other promising startups like Neighborland and Findery. The underlying goal all along, according to Williams, was to use Obvious to figure out what he and Stone wanted to work on next.
„We rebooted Obvious in 2011 with a vague plan,“ Williams wrote in a blog post this week. „We started investing, incubating, and experimenting to figure out what worked and what we wanted to do at this stage in our careers; we just knew we wanted to work together do stuff that mattered.“ Now, nearly two years later, Williams says he and Stone have settled on their next projects.
Williams says that he is now spending „about 98%“ of his time working on Medium, the publishing platform that Obvious announced a year ago.
Williams says that he is now spending „about 98%“ of his time working on Medium, the publishing platform that Obvious announced a year ago. Just like Twitter before it, Medium has been spun out from Obvious, and is now said to be operating as its own company, with a staff of about 30 people.
Stone, meanwhile, has committed himself to working on a new mobile startup called Jelly, which is also affiliated with Obvious. Details of the project are still vague, but Stone suggested in a blog post earlier in the week that it will be a free app that helps people „do good,“ and which will take up most of his time. „Personally, Jelly will command my full attention aside from some advisory roles elsewhere,“ he wrote.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s third co-founder, remains involved with the social network’s business operations, but most of his focus is outside the company. In October, Dorsey wrote on his personal Tumblr that he only works at Twitter on Tuesday afternoons. He spends the rest of his time running Square, the mobile payments company he co-founded in 2010 and which is now valued at more than $3 billion. As if Square isn’t enough of ambitious follow-up to Twitter, Dorsey has repeatedly expressed an interest in eventually running for mayor of New York City.
Whether these projects become the Next Big Thing like Twitter is unclear, but for each of Twitter’s founders, they represent the next big thing in their careers — and that may be just as important.