My First Weeks at Twitter...
… have met and in many cases exceeded the expectations I had when thinking about joining the company. Obviously I’m still in the honeymoon period and things are still moving fast, but the energy and culture of the place have been inspiring. I’ve found a few things particularly worth gushing over:
Management. I think a lot of a company’s spirit comes directly from the top. At Google, I always respected Larry, Sergey, and Eric for being open and direct, while still fostering an atmosphere of playfulness and respect throughout the company. Yet Google is a company which has clear and direct objectives and achieves an astounding rate of progress when it decides to move in a direction. One of my concerns before showing up at Twitter was how the executive staff was going to measure up. I shouldn’t have been worried. The atmosphere is playful, a touch irreverent, and there’s a strong guiding voice for the style and the direction of the company. Dick Costolo’s improv experience has been on display every time I’ve seen him speak: he’s spontaneous, funny, and inspiring. I haven’t had the fortune to see Jack yet, but his talks are already gaining a legendary reputation in the valley. It’s been a short time, but I really feel confident in the leadership at Twitter.
My team. The Developer Relations team is so much smaller than the team I was on at Google (even if you only count Chrome DevRel) that it’s amazing to see how much has been done up until this point. The stuff on dev.twitter.com is done by such a small team, yet the quality of the docs and discussion support are top notch. Most of the features on the site are implemented in-team, and they’ve already got features which Google Groups and code.google.com were quite slow to implement. Twitter’s API has a reputation for simplicity, but after seeing how the sausage has been made for a couple weeks, I think this reputation has as much to do with the great support work this team has done, as with an elegant API design.
The environment. I didn’t think this would be as big of a deal, but I love working in San Francisco. Even though I have to fight through Muni in the morning, there’s something energizing about being in the middle of this city every day. SF’s style bleeds into the workplace as well, from all the goofy internet memes decorating the walls, to the rows of bikes in the lobby (not all fixies!), to the festive social culture (three team dinners/happy hours in my first two weeks). Google had its own culture (which I loved) but this feels just a bit more raw, like a scrappy startup should. Any company which makes a recruiting video in the style of one of my favorite movies ever is hitting all the right notes, in my opinion:
The potential. Leaving Google was obviously a choice I couldn’t make lightly. During that time I heard a lot of folks questioning Twitter’s ability to monetize, or be a ‘real’ product. I appreciate that they didn’t want me to make a decision which they saw as unwise, but ultimately these discussions led to a lot of thought and the eventual realization that I truly believe in Twitter’s strong future as a profitable and useful communications tool. As an early-ish joiner (member number 7,588,892) I’ve watched Twitter grow from a simple way to ping friends and update a status line on my blog, to a channel which provides some of my most engaging conversations and informational leads throughout a given day. It’s a testament to how widespread the brand is that when I told my parents about my decision to leave Google, both had already heard about Twitter through other channels. I guess that a tool simple and flexible enough for fresh bread, political scandals, NATO / Taliban spats, theme songs for beauty pagents and the POTUS himself has earned that reputation. And being part of being able to build out that product, especially during a time where product features such as photos referral tracking and analytics are happening, while the leaders are having significant discussions around monetization is an exciting time - a time when big, impressive things get done.
I’m looking forward to contributing as much as I can.