Twitter founder’s departure prompts exit strategy warning

A small business expert says start-ups must “anticipate the plateau” as part of their exit strategy, after the third and final Twitter co-founder announced his plans to leave the company to pursue other ventures.


Twitter co-founder Isaac “Biz” Stone is moving on from the micro-blogging site just five years after it catapulted into the social media realm.


He founded Twitter in 2006 along with Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams, and it has become one of the most popular social networking sites in the world.


Stone wrote in a blog that while he would work with the company “for many years to come”, the most effective use of his time was to take a backseat for the time being.


“Lately, it has come to my attention that the Twitter crew and its leadership team have grown incredibly productive,” Stone wrote.


“I’ve decided that the most effective use of my time is to get out of the way until I’m called upon to be of some specific use.”


Stone is the last of the Twitter co-founders to leave the company. He will work alongside Williams to re-launch The Obvious Corporation – the company they conceived as a technology project incubator prior to Twitter.


“Our plan is to develop new projects and work on solving big problems aligned along a simple mission statement: The Obvious Corporation develops systems that help people work together to improve the world,” Stone wrote.


Dorsey nows heads up-and-coming mobile payments company Square.


According to Martin Nally, StartUpSmart mentor and founder of hranywhere, the Twitter co-founders are a perfect example of the incredible rate at which start-ups operate nowadays.


“Timeframes have radically changed – we now live in a time of ridiculously short timeframes. It therefore doesn’t surprise me that the founders of Twitter have gone down that path. In fact, it’s surprising they’ve lasted five years,” Nally says.


“What got them into this [social media space] was a fabulous idea, but fabulous ideas have a shelf life.”


Nally says social media is a “cutting-edge type thing” so people are always on the lookout for the next best thing, either to consumer or to commercialise.


According to Nally, all start-ups – regardless of the sector they operate in – must continue to innovate and grow in order to stay relevant, or let someone else take over.


“You need to have a process where you’re not standing still. The majority of start-ups don’t reach the five-year stage so if you do, it’s the result of hard work. But you can’t rest on hard work,” he says.


“That’s the issue. You can’t wait for the plateau – you have to anticipate the plateau. Look for opportunities and have a whole series of things in the pipeline.”


By having multiple business interests, Nally says it will be much easier for start-ups to plan their exit strategy.


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