Evan Williams, former Twitter CEO, says he's not disappearing from the company
Evan Williams is spending less time these days around the San Francisco offices of Twitter, a company he co-founded and once ran as CEO.
But Williams isn't gone from Twitter altogether -- despite former Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo taking over as chief executive last fall, and fellow co-founder Jack Dorsey taking over Williams' post-CEO role of leading product development.
"As was reported in various places yesterday, I've decided to scale back my role at the company. (I'm still involved, but it's no longer my full-time job.)," Williams wrote in a post on his personal Evhead blog.
"I'm not ready to talk about what I have planned next, but I will venture a prediction about what's next for Twitter: It will be bigger and better."
Dorsey and Biz Stone, the other two co-founders of Twitter, have been on a bit of a media blitz lately as Twitter celebrates its fifth anniversary with stops at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, "Conan" and, on Tuesday night, CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
Absent from most all of this so far has been Williams.
But in his personal post, Williams did reflect a bit on Twitter's ride over the last five years, his run as its CEO from 2008 through 2010, and his previous stint at the Google-owned Blogger, which lasted more than five years.
"When I took the CEO job, there were many who didn't think Twitter would last this long," he said. "Today, even the naysayers have begrudgingly accepted it's not disappearing anytime soon. I have the utmost confidence that, like Blogger, Twitter will grow an order of magnitude more (even though that's a much taller order, given its size already). The momentum is just incredibly strong, critical mass has been reached, and the dark days of imminent technical meltdown are over."
Williams acknowledged that "momentum and critical mass" have been gained and lost by Internet companies in the past, but he said that Twitter has a long-term vision and talent in place to keep its success going.
"After stepping down from CEO six months ago, my mind started to wander," Williams wrote. "The reason I left Blogger/Google when I did is that I felt it had reached a place where it was on solid ground and in capable hands (at the time, Jason Goldman’s as product manager). Though still an independent company, I realized Twitter may be at a similar point today."
He also noted that although it is most company founders who get a large share of the credit for success, it takes a team of people buying into a vision and working hard to create such prosperity.
"There are hundreds of people at Twitter now, some of whom have been there for years and played critical roles," Williams said. "There are those whom you know by name and others you may never have heard of individually, but they have all contributed to the company's success. I'd venture to say it's one of the finest teams ever assembled in the Internet industry, and it's the accomplishment of which I'm most proud."
The team of employees at Twitter "practically brought me to tears on multiple occasions, during our all-hands meetings, when someone demonstrated their unique and heartfelt awesomeness," he said. "It was they who collectively helped Twitter mature from a quirky, wobbly toddler of a service with great potential but way too much attention for its own good to an operation that is becoming -- if not already has become in some areas -- world class. And it is they who will take it to the next level, which will surprise us all."
However, Williams, while getting a bit sentimental about Twitter in his post, wasn't ready to upstage his own feelings about the service by announcing where he's heading now that he's no longer a full-time presence.
"So, really, what's next?" he wrote. "First of all, I'm not disappearing from Twitter. I remain on the board of directors and will frequently meet with many folks there to help in any way I can.
"However, now that Twitter is in capable hands that aren't mine, it's time to pick up a whiteboard marker and think fresh. There are other problems/opportunities in the world that need attention, and there are other individuals I'd love to get the opportunity to work with and learn from. (Details to come.)
"While I doubt I'll get so lucky a third time, as my good friend Biz Stone likes to say, 'Creativity is a renewable resource.' Let's see what happens."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Evan Williams' Twitter profile picture. Credit: Evan Williams/Twitter