At this year’s Fortune Brainstorm conference in Aspen, Colorado, Twitter and Medium co-founder Ev Williams was interviewed by Walter Isaacson. Guided by the man who once profiled Steve Jobs, Williams proved an informative and entertaining interview. Below are a couple of highlights.
“Early on we didn’t know what Twitter was,” says Williams. “We thought it was a social network—microblogging was the thing a lot of people called it. In 2009, we made the distinction internally and the way we started talking about it was as a real-time information network.”
He then goes on to add, “news is what Twitter excels at. [It’s] guaranteed to have all the info you’re looking for, first hand reports, rumors, links to stories as soon as they are published. All that is there.”
At this point in the conversation, Isaacson quickly stops William to disagree with him. Citing yesterday’s landmark deal with Iran, the renowned journalist told Williams that while he went to Twitter to find out about the deal, he left unsatisfied with what he had managed to learn. Williams, to his credit, responded by saying, “It’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for. I agree that needs to be better.”
The two then turned to Twitter’s chequered history with developers. Echoing what people like Mike McCue have said, Williams characterized the company’s lockdown of its third-party API a “strategic mistake”. “It wasn’t a win/win for developers, users and the company,” he said. According to those that were at conference, it appears that Twitter might reverse its decision, even without a more permanent CEO in place.
Speaking of the company’s CEO search. When asked about former CEO Dick Costolo, Williams touted the party line, saying that Costolo was the one whom made the decision to leave his position. “We were optimistic about where we were going, but Dick decided now is the time to step down for his personal choices, as well, he said, if he was going to step down, now seemed like the right time to do it,” he said.
The interview ended with the two man talking about Twitter’s financials. When asked about the company’s revenue woes, Williams said, “Twitter’s revenue stream is pretty good. I wouldn’t say we haven’t figured that out.” He then finished the interview by saying, “The business is really solid, but we have so much potential with the new products we could develop.”