Twitter celebrated its fifth birthday this week and one of its co-founders, Biz Stone, sat down with Tavis Smiley from PBS for an interview on Wednesday night (March 23rd). The video is now available online.
Biz Stone, co-founder and creative director for the uberpopular microblogging site Twitter, discusses the monetary and social value of the site, which turns five this week, boasts 200 million accounts and employs 400 people.
Here’s are Three Exchanges from the 22 Minute Interview
Tavis: Since you say valuable, I’ll ask question and we’ll move on, because I know from talking to you in the past this is not one of your favorite subjects. But you can’t turn five and have numbers thrown around like 3 billion up to 7 billion and not comment on it. So how does one calculate what Twitter is worth five years later?
Stone: I still think that’s a bit of a mystery. Like you said, the numbers are so wide-ranging. The way that we really calculate the value is the value we’re generating for our users. That’s the way that we measure it. I think down the line when we get more sophisticated with the revenue products we’ve launched, the promoted products, the promoted tweets, accounts and trends, I think once we get further along
Tavis: What do you think of the fact that there are people – Kim Kardashian, for example, comes to mind – people who are being paid significant sums of money to shout things out in their tweets? Did you have that in mind five years ago?
Stone: No, never imagined that. That emerged on its own, and I think my thought there is that if it’s working for them, if it continues to work for them, if people continue to follow them and enjoy their tweets, then I think that’s probably okay.
Tavis: Should Twitter be entitled to some of that cash?
Stone: I think we have our own plans for how we’re going to make money, and we’re very sensitive to how users are going to react to the ways that we make money.
We want our revenue products to be as meaningful and as relevant as the rest of our products. That’s why our promoted tweet is really just a tweet that a company has paid for other people to be able to see it more often and it’s native to the system. It’s all about a good user experience.
Tavis: Your thoughts, if you have any, about the nature of Twitter being used for political means and ends, whatever they may be?
Stone: Yeah, one of the core tenets for us is that the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact, and you have to accept the fact that if that’s what you say, then Twitter can be used for both good and for ill.
It’s our basic belief, like I said earlier, that people are basically good, overwhelmingly good. So when people are using Twitter for ill, they’re outnumbered by those who are using it for good. One of my personal beliefs is that I would rather have people using a system like Twitter that is completely open and viewable by all to do whatever bad things they want to do, because we can track it, we can see it. It’s happening in the light. It’s not festering in the darkness.
I think that’s a good thing. So it has become a tool for any and all people who use it, but you have to remember it’s just that – it’s a tool. It’s something that people will use to do things, and it’s not the technology itself. The technology itself is neutral and it’s up to people to behave accordingly.