Friday, January 3, 2014

Review: Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

Title: Hatching Twitter: A Story of money, power, friendship, and betrayal
Author: Nick Bilton
Year Published: 2013

Genre: Adult non-fiction
Pages: 299
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2013 Google Reading map): USA (California)


FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): In 2005, Odeo was a struggling podcasting star-up founded by free-range hacker Noah Glass and staffed by a motley crew of anarchists. Less than two years alter, its days were numbered and half the staff had been let go. But out of Odeo’s ashes, the remaining employees worked on a little side venture…that by 2013 had become an $11.5 billion business.

That much is widely known. But the full story of Twitter’s hatching has never been told before. It’s a drama of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles, as the founders went from everyday engineers to wealthy celebrities featured on magazine covers, The Ophrah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show, and Time’s list of the world’s most influential people.

New York Times columnist and reporter Nick Bilton takes readers behind the scenes as Twitter few at exponential speeds. He gets inside the heads of the four hackers out of whom the company tumbled.

ReviewI found this book really interesting! I signed up for Twitter in 2008 so that I could tweet for the library as I took over as the Teacher Librarian, but found that I didn’t use it as much as I could have. Honestly, the account isn't used anymore. I have friends that use Twitter every day to connect to colleagues in their field who live all over the United States and swear that it is a wonderful resource for them. My daughter uses it to connect with dancers and choreographers, and we learn who is giving special dance classes through Twitter.

All this to say that I see the value of Twitter, but had no idea any of the background, how it was created, who was behind it, and all the drama involved. I am sure that Twitter is similar to other companies with the twists and turns of employment, CEO changes, and more.

I found the story of Twitter both fascinating and sad. It is amazing how the germ of an idea becomes something huge: “wouldn’t it be nice if you could connect with friends and be less lonely.” The four men (who also created Blogger and Square!) who founded Twitter were such good friends and by the end are not. That’s the part that I find so sad: kicking one another out of the country; turning in one another; and losing their friendships.

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