Twitter founder: Why scale is crucial for start-ups

The founder of Twitter has shared his views on what it takes to create successful new technologies, highlighting the importance for companies to allow room to scale on a global basis.


Jack Dorsey, a US-based web developer and businessman, founded Twitter in 2006 with Biz Stone and Evan Williams.


As chief executive officer, Dorsey saw the start-up through two rounds of funding from venture capitalists. In 2008, Williams took over the role of chief executive and Dorsey became chairman of the board.


In 2011, Dorsey returned to Twitter as executive chairman. In addition to Twitter, Dorsey is also the founder and chief executive of mobile payment platform Square, released in May 2010.


From December 2009 to June 2011, the company grew from 10 employees to more than 100.


Last year, British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson invested an undisclosed sum in Square following a $110 million funding round.


Then in August this year, Square partnered with Starbucks, which plans to invest $25 million in the start-up as well as use its platform to process debit and credit card transactions in-store.


Speaking at an event in San Francisco, Dorsey shared some of his views on technology with Technology Review. In particular, Dorsey highlighted the importance of being able to scale, using Twitter as an example.


“Twitter was designed to be used by a $5 cell phone in the middle of Kenya, all the way up to the largest organisations in the world, such as governments” Dorsey said.


“A $5 dollar phone in Kenya has the exact same tool that Lady Gaga does. We want to build at scale, but with a very large dynamic range.”


With regard to Square, Dorsey said the platform can often offer a sole trader a better tool than a multibillion dollar retailer, but a multibillion dollar retailer also sees value in the platform.


“Starbucks has validated that the other end of that scale is also true,” Dorsey said.


While Dorsey highlighted the huge appeal of Twitter and Square, he was quick to point out both companies are still very young and, despite their success, remain works in progress.


“We want to make sure that we’re shepherding the ecosystem and that we’re guiding it towards very compelling versions of what we’re working towards,” he said.


“We see the products as a story – we want to tell an epic story to the world, it’s one that has episodes, that has acts. Both companies are very early in their stories.”


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