Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

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The dramatic, unlikely story behind the founding of Twitter, by New York Times bestselling author and Vanity Fair special correspondent

The San Francisco-based technology company Twitter has become a powerful force in less than ten years. Today it’s everything from a tool for fighting political oppression in the Middle East to a marketing must-have to the world’s living room during live TV events to President Trump’s preferred method of communication. It has hundreds of millions of active users all over the world.
But few people know that it nearly fell to pieces early on.

In this rousing history that reads like a novel, Hatching Twitter takes readers behind the scenes of Twitter’s early exponential growth, following the four hackers—Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass, who created the cultural juggernaut practically by accident.  It’s a drama of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles over money, influence, and control over a company that was growing faster than they could ever imagine.

Drawing on hundreds of sources, documents, and internal e-mails, Bilton offers a rarely-seen glimpse of the inner workings of technology startups, venture capital, and Silicon Valley culture.
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. The unbelievable true story of the man who built a billion-dollar online drug empire from his bedroom—and almost got away with it
 
In 2011, a twenty-six-year-old libertarian programmer named Ross Ulbricht launched the ultimate free market: the Silk Road, a clandestine Web site hosted on the Dark Web where anyone could trade anything—drugs, hacking software, forged passports, counterfeit cash, poisons—free of the government’s watchful eye.
 
It wasn’t long before the media got wind of the new Web site where anyone—not just teenagers and weed dealers but terrorists and black hat hackers—could buy and sell contraband detection-free. Spurred by a public outcry, the federal government launched an epic two-year manhunt for the site’s elusive proprietor, with no leads, no witnesses, and no clear jurisdiction. All the investigators knew was that whoever was running the site called himself the Dread Pirate Roberts.
 
The Silk Road quickly ballooned into $1.2 billion enterprise, and Ross embraced his new role as kingpin. He enlisted a loyal crew of allies in high and low places, all as addicted to the danger and thrill of running an illegal marketplace as their customers were to the heroin they sold. Through his network he got wind of the target on his back and took drastic steps to protect himself—including ordering a hit on a former employee. As Ross made plans to disappear forever, the Feds raced against the clock to catch a man they weren’t sure even existed, searching for a needle in the haystack of the global Internet.

Drawing on exclusive access to key players and two billion digital words and images Ross left behind, Vanity Fair correspondent and New York Times bestselling author Nick Bilton offers a tale filled with twists and turns, lucky breaks and unbelievable close calls. It’s a story of the boy next door’s ambition gone criminal, spurred on by the clash between the new world of libertarian-leaning, anonymous, decentralized Web advocates and the old world of government control, order, and the rule of law. Filled with unforgettable characters and capped by an astonishing climax, American Kingpin might be dismissed as too outrageous for fiction. But it’s all too real.
Are we driving off a digital cliff and heading for disaster, unable to focus, maintain concentration, or form the human bonds that make life worth living? Are media and business doomed and about to be replaced by amateur hour?

The world, as Nick Bilton—with tongue-in-cheek—shows, has been going to hell for a long, long time, and what we are experiencing is the twenty-first-century version of the fear that always takes hold as new technology replaces the old. In fact, as Bilton shows, the digital era we are part of is, in all its creative and disruptive forms, the foundation for exciting and engaging experiences not only for business but society as well.

Both visionary and practical, I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works captures the zeitgeist of an emerging age, providing the understanding of how a radically changed media world is influencing human behavior:

   • With a walk on the wild side—through the porn industry—we see how this business model is leading the way, adapting product to consumer needs and preferences and beating piracy.
   • By understanding how the Internet is creating a new type of consumer, the “consumnivore,” living in a world where immediacy trumps quality and quantity, we see who is dictating the type of content being created.
   • Through exploring the way our brains are adapting, we gain a new understanding of the positive effect of new media narratives on thinking and action. One fascinating study, for example, shows that surgeons who play video games are more skillful than their nonplaying counterparts.
   • Why social networks, the openness of the Internet, and handy new gadgets are not just vehicles for telling the world what you had for breakfast but are becoming the foundation for “anchoring communities” that tame information overload and help determine what news and information to trust and consume and what to ignore.
   • Why the map of tomorrow is centered on “Me,” and why that simple fact means a totally new approach to the way media companies shape content.
   • Why people pay for experiences, not content; and why great storytelling and extended relationships will prevail and enable businesses to engage with customers in new ways that go beyond merely selling information, instead creating unique and meaningful experiences.
 
I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works walks its own talk by creating a unique reader experience: Semacodes embedded in both print and eBook versions will take readers directly to Bilton’s website (www.NickBilton.com), where they can access videos of the author further developing his point of view and also delve into the research that was key to shaping the central ideas of the book. The website will also offer links to related content and the ability to comment on a chapter, allowing the reader to join the conversation.
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Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Nov 5, 2013
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781101605233
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Science & Technology
Business & Economics / Corporate & Business History
Business & Economics / Industries / Media & Communications
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A few years ago, MySpace.com was just an idea kicking around a Southern California spam mill. Scroll down to the present day and MySpace is one of the most visited Internet destinations in America, displaying more than 40 billion webpage views per month and generating nearly $1 billion annually for Rupert Murdoch’s online empire. Even by the standards of the Internet age, the MySpace saga is an astounding growth story, which climaxed with the site’s acquisition by Murdoch’s News Corporation in 2005 for a sum approaching one billion dollars. But more than that, it may be the defining drama of the digital era.

In Stealing MySpace, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Angwin chronicles the rise of this Internet powerhouse. With an unerring eye, Angwin details how MySpace took the Internet by storm by grabbing the best ideas from around the Web, encouraging pinup stars such as Tila Tequila to make their home on its pages and giving everyone freedom to experiment with online identities–including using somebody else’s identity.

Stealing MySpace introduces us to the site’s founders, Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, who dabbled in computer hacking, online pornography, spam, and spyware before starting MySpace. Although their street savvy, doggedness, and clubbing skills far eclipsed their tech prowess, they stumbled their way to success and soon found themselves at ground zero of a high-stakes war that pitted Rupert Murdoch against his frequent nemesis, the combative Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone. Angwin sheds light on the dizzying backroom deals that allowed Murdoch to snatch MySpace from Viacom’s grasp even as the MySpace founders remained in the dark about their own fate. Then she takes us inside the Murdoch empire as DeWolfe and Anderson lobby furiously to regain control of their creation.

Venturing beyond the business aspects of the story, Angwin also explores the Internet culture, a voyeuristic world in which MySpace must stay one step ahead of amateur pornographers, sexual predators, and “spoofers” who set up fake profiles (Rupert Murdoch himself tolerates dozens of phony “Ruperts” on the site) and cope with the general excesses and sometimes illegal acts of a community of account holders equal in number to the population of Japan.

In Stealing MySpace, Julia Angwin dishes on the epic real-world battle for control of a virtual empire. In a savvy, smart, fast-paced narrative reminiscent of Bryan Burrough and John Helyar’s Barbarians at the Gate and Michael Lewis’s The New New Thing, Stealing MySpace tells is the whole gripping story behind a breakout cultural phenomenon.
"In the grand tradition of Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires (2009)... an engaging look into a fascinating subculture of millions." —Booklist

"Breezy...How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars ably if uncritically chronicles the short history of a young company catering to young users, with a young chief executive, and reveals, intentionally or not, the limitations that come with that combination." —Wall Street Journal

The improbable and exhilarating story of the rise of Snapchat from a frat boy fantasy to a multi-billion dollar internet unicorn that has dramatically changed the way we communicate.

In 2013 Evan Spiegel, the brash CEO of the social network Snapchat, and his co-founder Bobby Murphy stunned the press when they walked away from a three-billion-dollar offer from Facebook: how could an app teenagers use to text dirty photos dream of a higher valuation? Was this hubris, or genius?

In How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars, tech journalist Billy Gallagher takes us inside the rise of one of Silicon Valley's hottest start-ups. Snapchat developed from a simple wish for disappearing pictures as Stanford junior Reggie Brown nursed regrets about photos he had sent. After an epic feud between best friends, Brown lost his stake in the company, while Spiegel has gone on to make a name for himself as a visionary—if ruthless—CEO worth billions, linked to celebrities like Taylor Swift and his wife, Miranda Kerr.

A fellow Stanford undergrad and fraternity brother of the company’s founding trio, Gallagher has covered Snapchat from the start. He brings unique access to a company Bloomberg Business called “a cipher in the Silicon Valley technology community.” Gallagher offers insight into challenges Snapchat faces as it transitions from a playful app to one of the tech industry’s preeminent public companies. In the tradition of great business narratives, How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars offers the definitive account of a company whose goal is no less than to remake the future of entertainment.

The exclusive inside story of Facebook and how it has revolutionized the way the world uses the Internet. “A fantastic book, filled with great reporting and colorful narrative” (Walter Isaacson).

In little more than half a decade, Facebook has gone from a dorm-room novelty to a company with 500 million users. It is one of the fastest growing companies in history, an essential part of the social life not only of teenagers but hundreds of millions of adults worldwide. As Facebook spreads around the globe, it creates surprising effects—even becoming instrumental in political protests from Colombia to Iran.

Veteran technology reporter David Kirkpatrick had the full cooperation of Facebook’s key executives in researching this fascinating history of the company and its impact on our lives. Kirkpatrick tells us how Facebook was created, why it has flourished, and where it is going next. He chronicles its successes and missteps, and gives readers the most complete assessment anywhere of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the central figure in the company’s remarkable ascent. This is the Facebook story that can be found nowhere else.

How did a nineteen-year-old Harvard student create a company that has transformed the Internet and how did he grow it to its current enormous size? Kirkpatrick shows how Zuckerberg steadfastly refused to compromise his vision, insistently focusing on growth over profits and preaching that Facebook must dominate (his word) communication on the Internet. In the process, he and a small group of key executives have created a company that has changed social life in the United States and elsewhere, a company that has become a ubiquitous presence in marketing, altering politics, business, and even our sense of our own identity. This is the Facebook Effect.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. The unbelievable true story of the man who built a billion-dollar online drug empire from his bedroom—and almost got away with it
 
In 2011, a twenty-six-year-old libertarian programmer named Ross Ulbricht launched the ultimate free market: the Silk Road, a clandestine Web site hosted on the Dark Web where anyone could trade anything—drugs, hacking software, forged passports, counterfeit cash, poisons—free of the government’s watchful eye.
 
It wasn’t long before the media got wind of the new Web site where anyone—not just teenagers and weed dealers but terrorists and black hat hackers—could buy and sell contraband detection-free. Spurred by a public outcry, the federal government launched an epic two-year manhunt for the site’s elusive proprietor, with no leads, no witnesses, and no clear jurisdiction. All the investigators knew was that whoever was running the site called himself the Dread Pirate Roberts.
 
The Silk Road quickly ballooned into $1.2 billion enterprise, and Ross embraced his new role as kingpin. He enlisted a loyal crew of allies in high and low places, all as addicted to the danger and thrill of running an illegal marketplace as their customers were to the heroin they sold. Through his network he got wind of the target on his back and took drastic steps to protect himself—including ordering a hit on a former employee. As Ross made plans to disappear forever, the Feds raced against the clock to catch a man they weren’t sure even existed, searching for a needle in the haystack of the global Internet.

Drawing on exclusive access to key players and two billion digital words and images Ross left behind, Vanity Fair correspondent and New York Times bestselling author Nick Bilton offers a tale filled with twists and turns, lucky breaks and unbelievable close calls. It’s a story of the boy next door’s ambition gone criminal, spurred on by the clash between the new world of libertarian-leaning, anonymous, decentralized Web advocates and the old world of government control, order, and the rule of law. Filled with unforgettable characters and capped by an astonishing climax, American Kingpin might be dismissed as too outrageous for fiction. But it’s all too real.
Behind the bitter rivalry between Apple and Google—and how it's reshaping the way we think about technology

The rise of smartphones and tablets has altered the industry of making computers. At the center of this change are Apple and Google, two companies whose philosophies, leaders, and commercial acumen have steamrolled the competition. In the age of Android and the iPad, these corporations are locked in a feud that will play out not just in the mobile marketplace but in the courts and on screens around the world.
Fred Vogelstein has reported on this rivalry for more than a decade and has rare access to its major players. In Dogfight, he takes us into the offices and board rooms where company dogma translates into ruthless business; behind outsize personalities like Steve Jobs, Apple's now-lionized CEO, and Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman; and inside the deals, lawsuits, and allegations that mold the way we communicate. Apple and Google are poaching each other's employees. They bid up the price of each other's acquisitions for spite, and they forge alliances with major players like Facebook and Microsoft in pursuit of market dominance.
Dogfight reads like a novel: vivid nonfiction with never-before-heard details. This is more than a story about what devices will replace our cell phones and laptops. It's about who will control the content on those devices and where that content will come from—about the future of media and the Internet in Silicon Valley, New York, and Hollywood.

The cult classic that predicted the rise of fake news—revised and updated for the post-Trump, post-Gawker age.
 
Hailed as "astonishing and disturbing" by the Financial Times and "essential reading" by TechCrunch at its original publication, former American Apparel marketing director Ryan Holiday’s first book sounded a prescient alarm about the dangers of fake news. It's all the more relevant today. 

Trust Me, I’m Lying was the first book to blow the lid off the speed and force at which rumors travel online—and get "traded up" the media ecosystem until they become real headlines and generate real responses in the real world. The culprit? Marketers and professional media manipulators, encouraged by the toxic economics of the news business.
 
Whenever you see a malicious online rumor costs a company millions, politically motivated fake news driving elections, a product or celebrity zooming from total obscurity to viral sensation, or anonymously sourced articles becoming national conversation, someone is behind it. Often someone like Ryan Holiday.
 
As he explains, “I wrote this book to explain how media manipulators work, how to spot their fingerprints, how to fight them, and how (if you must) to emulate their tactics. Why am I giving away these secrets? Because I’m tired of a world where trolls hijack debates, marketers help write the news, opinion masquerades as fact, algorithms drive everything to extremes, and no one is accountable for any of it. I’m pulling back the curtain because it’s time the public understands how things really work. What you choose to do with this information is up to you.”
Are we driving off a digital cliff and heading for disaster, unable to focus, maintain concentration, or form the human bonds that make life worth living? Are media and business doomed and about to be replaced by amateur hour?

The world, as Nick Bilton—with tongue-in-cheek—shows, has been going to hell for a long, long time, and what we are experiencing is the twenty-first-century version of the fear that always takes hold as new technology replaces the old. In fact, as Bilton shows, the digital era we are part of is, in all its creative and disruptive forms, the foundation for exciting and engaging experiences not only for business but society as well.

Both visionary and practical, I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works captures the zeitgeist of an emerging age, providing the understanding of how a radically changed media world is influencing human behavior:

   • With a walk on the wild side—through the porn industry—we see how this business model is leading the way, adapting product to consumer needs and preferences and beating piracy.
   • By understanding how the Internet is creating a new type of consumer, the “consumnivore,” living in a world where immediacy trumps quality and quantity, we see who is dictating the type of content being created.
   • Through exploring the way our brains are adapting, we gain a new understanding of the positive effect of new media narratives on thinking and action. One fascinating study, for example, shows that surgeons who play video games are more skillful than their nonplaying counterparts.
   • Why social networks, the openness of the Internet, and handy new gadgets are not just vehicles for telling the world what you had for breakfast but are becoming the foundation for “anchoring communities” that tame information overload and help determine what news and information to trust and consume and what to ignore.
   • Why the map of tomorrow is centered on “Me,” and why that simple fact means a totally new approach to the way media companies shape content.
   • Why people pay for experiences, not content; and why great storytelling and extended relationships will prevail and enable businesses to engage with customers in new ways that go beyond merely selling information, instead creating unique and meaningful experiences.
 
I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works walks its own talk by creating a unique reader experience: Semacodes embedded in both print and eBook versions will take readers directly to Bilton’s website (www.NickBilton.com), where they can access videos of the author further developing his point of view and also delve into the research that was key to shaping the central ideas of the book. The website will also offer links to related content and the ability to comment on a chapter, allowing the reader to join the conversation.
Netflix has come a long way since 1997, when two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Marc Ran­dolph and Reed Hastings, decided to start an online DVD store before most people owned a DVD player. They were surprised and elated when launch-day traffic in April 1998 crashed their server and resulted in 150 sales. Today, Netflix has more than 25 million subscribers and annual revenues above $3 billion. Yet long- term success-or even survival-is still far from guaranteed. Journalist Gina Keating recounts the absorbing, fast-paced drama of the company's turbulent rise to the top and its attempt to invent two new kinds of business. First it engaged in a grueling war against video-store behemoth Blockbuster, transforming movie rental forever. Then it jumped into an even bigger battle for online video streaming against Google, Hulu, Amazon, and the big cable companies. Netflix ushered in such innovations as DVD rental by mail, a patented online queue of upcom­ing rentals, and a recommendation algorithm called Cinematch that proved crucial in its struggle against bigger rivals. Yet for all its success, Netflix is still a polariz­ing company. Hastings is often heralded as a visionary-he was named Business Person of the Year in 2010 by Fortune-even as he has been called the nation's worst CEO. Netflix also faces disgruntled customers after price increases and other stumbles that could tarnish the brand forever. The quest to become the world's portal for pre­mium video on demand will determine nothing less than the future of entertainment and the Internet. Drawing on extensive new interviews and her years covering Netflix as a financial and entertainment reporter, Keating makes this tale as absorbing as it is important.
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