Tweet me in St. Louis

I just got back from a “tweet up” at Webster University with Jack Dorsey, the CEO/co-founder of Twitter. What an inspirational event this was! Dorsey’s low-key demeanor made him all the more engaging as he told the story of how Twitter came to be.

Did you know:
  • Jack Dorsey is from St. Louis? Graduated from Bishop DuBourg High School. Grew up in the Compton Heights neighborhood.
  • His family still lives here and he loves St. Louis!
  • Twitter ultimately developed out of his obsession with maps as a kid.
  • His first couple of jobs were writing programming for dispatch services (like taxis, EMS, couriers use). Very similar to Twitter when you think about it.
  • The first name for Twitter was “Twitch,” but since it wasn’t very sexy a browse through the dictionary under tw… came up with Twitter. The definition seemed perfectly applicable: a series of light, intermittant vocal sounds; birds chirping.
  • Even after being named Twitter, the developers didn’t consider the conversations “tweets.” They called them “status updates”…until users started calling them “tweets”.
  • Twitter is based on immediacy which inspires transparency which makes people (and organizations) more approachable. Immediacy. Transparency. Approachability.
  • Jack (see how easy it is to get comfortable w/ this guy?!) says internal communication is the most critical thing a company can pay attention to. When people or groups inside a company fight, gossip or don’t interact well, it’s impossible for a company to move forward.
  • He said companies need to be good listeners, especially listening to how people use their product/service. That’s actually how the @ nomenclature came about; users were doing it so the developers reprogrammed Twitter so messages using @(someone’s name) would go to them.
  • Twitter views itself as a utility, defined by the users.
Jack told us that he has a new venture soon to be announced that will involve St. Louis in a big way. He wouldn’t say what or how, but mentioned two possibilities: health care and financial services.
Webster University did a great job of hosting this tweet up…even showing all the #jackatwebster tweets coming in on a large screen behind the speaker. You can see the stream of tweets from today here.