Speed review of Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
by Nick Bilton
With 195 almost uniformly favorable (4 and 5 star) customer reviews at Amazon, another favorable review (by me) wouldn’t add much to the pot. An easy read, the book is well enough written and has a good pace and interesting story. The people are sufficiently drawn and they’re the focus of the story here (very little and not enough on the technology or operations nitty gritty). As to the players, more on those folks in the startup ecosystem who helped (lawyers, bankers, angels, etc) (or didn’t help) would have been interesting.
If you’re considering the book or just interested in a little more on Twitter, I suggest scanning the “most helpful” reviews at Amazon, particularly those by ex-employee Rabble and Lane Becker.
When Twitter was just a handful of people (2008) I was advising another tiny startup 1/2 block away, now called Skout. I wasn’t one of the relatively small user community tweeting back then, so I didn’t take much notice when Skout’s very competent founders offhandedly commented on how unreliable the Twitter service was. Technical problems early on are part of Twitter’s history, so I’d have appreciated more on how Twitter was able to address those issues adequately and quickly enough to stay alive, buy time, and then scale.
A couple years ago, despite my wife’s serious skepticism of the Twitter service, I made myself take up tweeting to see what it’s about – now I can appreciate firsthand the utility of the free service. And, of course, Twitter has 250+ million other users and is given a lot of credit for enabling citizens to be heard and collaborate, the Arab Spring being an example. Nonetheless, although it’s definitely a worthwhile service, it’s an open question whether Twitter will be able to monetize its growing user community without alienating a meaningful portion of them. Watch out for user churn.
4 stars at Amazon.
255 million monthly active users
500 million Tweets are sent per day
78% of Twitter active users are on mobile
77% of accounts are outside the U.S.
Twitter supports 35+ languages
3,000 employees in offices around the world. 50% are engineers
The Atlantic magazine recently published A Eulogy for Twitter, a cautionary commentary on the company’s evolution.
Speed review of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
by Brad Stone
(I gave it 2 stars at Amazon)
As an entrepreneur I very much enjoy becoming acquainted with other entrepreneurs and their stories. As most know, Jeff Bezos is legendary and Amazon is a pioneer with a huge footprint, already. So when I started this book I was pleased with the good writing and the author’s vocabulary. After 20-30 pages that all switched off – the writing began to bog down and the vocabulary digressed. I had hoped this would change but it didn’t, so after 1/5 of the book I closed it forever.
Not until I read MacKenzie Bezos’s one star review at Amazon earlier today, did I learn of the author’s many possible fabrications.
So, to summarize, the book evolves into a somewhat poorly written narrative including many disputed “facts.” It isn’t good as fiction or non-fiction.
If you must see for yourself, check it out of the library.
(I’d have given it a one-star, but since I stayed with it for more than 50 pages I can’t say “I hate it,” the translation of one star.)