American artist and entrepreneur Biz Stone co-founded the social networking platform in 2006, with the goal of friends being able to share messages using a small number of characters.
Board members of the company Mr. Stone was with at the time were “underwhelmed,” calling the site too simple and arguing that it wasn’t useful.
Evan Williams, another Twitter team member, countered by noting the same could be said about ice cream.
It wasn’t long before users began trickling – then flooding – in.
“That’s when it struck me that there was nothing like it,” Mr. Stone told attendees at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority symposium and annual general meeting at the Ottawa Convention Centre on Tuesday.
As it continued to gain in popularity, the site couldn’t handle all the traffic and began intermittently shutting down.
“We made a ton of mistakes,” he said. “We didn’t plan for success.”
But, Mr. Stone later added, many of those misfortunes provided valuable lessons that helped the Twitter team build the foundation for the now-ubiquitous social networking platform.
“So many of the great things that have happened to me have been because of mistakes.”
During that time, Mr. Stone looked at a week-long analysis of daily usage and noticed a huge spike in activity during one 24-hour period.
The reason? The site had actually been working for the full 24 hours.
It was then that Twitter employees realized the potential of the website, and outsiders did too.
Twitter turned down an offer from Facebook to purchase the company for $500 million when, at the time, it had a valuation of $25 million. Celebrities begin tweeting like crazy, which surprised Mr. Stone who expected them to retain the veil of secrecy traditionally surrounding the stars. Both presidential candidates took to Twitter in 2008, and by 2009 all members of Congress had accounts.
The company has become wrapped up in headlines of the day, used as a mobilizing tool for political uprisings or for charitable tweetups to garner awareness for various charities.
Twitter users are like a flock of birds able to move as one, Mr. Stone said.
It’s part of the reason why he designed the blue bird logo that has become so iconic.
One of the biggest lessons Mr. Stone says he has learned is that you don’t have to wait for an opportunity to achieve success.
“Opportunities can be manufactured,” he said. “You can set up the circumstances.”
Mr. Stone’s keynote speech capped off the day-long conference titled Canadians Connected 2012 that discussed the growth of the Internet and its contributions to the world’s economic and social future.
CIRA is a member-driven organization that manages Canada’s .ca domain name registry and develops and implements policies supporting Canada’s Internet community.