From Biscuit Factory to the Big Board: Twitter’s Humble IPO Origins
October 7 2013
As Twitter prepares to launch its IPO it is useful to recall the company’s humble origins. While living in the Sunshine Biscuit Factory in Oakland California thirteen years ago, Jack Dorsey signed up for a service called LiveJournal, becoming one of its first four thousand users. Dorsey, a Missouri native, was in the midst of creating a company that would dispatch taxis , couriers, and emergency services from the internet. The idea stemmed from an early fascination with the challenges posed by logistics and routing, which impelled him to work for a courier company during his early teens.
While pursuing the creation of the dispatching company, he came up with the idea to provide live, real-time updates from the road, regardless of one’s location. Problem was, that most people did not have smartphones or tablets at that time, and thus, if they were not seated, behind their computer monitors, the real time value of the message would be lost.
Six years later, in 2006, while working at the podcasting company Odeo, and with the smartphone revolution about to take off into high gear, Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan Williams and others launched their instant messaging service, utilizing the name Twitter, which was selected by software developer Noah Glass. Twitter was meant to suggest, according to Glass, “a short burst of inconsequential information” akin to chirps from birds. The first tweet, sent by Dorsey a bit before 10 PM on March 21, 2006 read simply: “just setting up my twtr.” What started as 400,000 posts every 90 days skyrocketed to over 50 million each day by 2010, and a purported level of 500 million tweets per day currently.
Twitter ranks as one of the top 10 internet sites with some 200 million registered users and rising. With revenue expected to more than double this year, Twitter hopes to tap into the IPO market with fortuitous timing, on the heels of record valuations accorded to internet companies, and Facebook’s remarkable rebound.
Whatever its fate, the company has come a long way from a clever idea born into a biscuit factory.