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Publisher's Summary

Twitter seems like a perfect start-up success story. In barely six years, a small group of young, ambitious programmers in Silicon Valley built an $11.5 billion business out of the ashes of a failed podcasting company.

Today Twitter boasts more than 200 million active users and has affected business, politics, media, and other fields in innumerable ways.

Now Nick Bilton of the New York Times takes readers behind the scenes with a narrative that shows what happened inside Twitter as it grew at exponential speeds. This is a tale of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles as the four founders - Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, and Noah Glass - went from everyday engineers to wealthy celebrities, featured on magazine covers, Oprah, The Daily Show, and Time's list of the world's most influential people.

Bilton's exclusive access and exhaustive investigative reporting - drawing on hundreds of sources, documents, and internal e-mails - have enabled him to write an intimate portrait of fame, influence, and power. He also captures the zeitgeist and global influence of Twitter, which has been used to help overthrow governments in the Middle East and disrupt the very fabric of the way people communicate.

©2013 Nick Bilton (P)2013 Penguin Audiobooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Shakespearean Drama

As a member of Twitter since 2008, I was curious about the real story behind its founding. This is a superb and well-researched account of a drama that sometimes takes on the depths of a Shakespearean tragedy. Finally @Jack is revealed to be a conniving, narcissistic and shallow little man who has spun a web of lies. And while @Noah may be denied the millions due to him, in this story he emerges as a sweet and decent man, sadly wronged by the friends he trusted.
If you are expecting abundant technical details behind the development of Twitter, you won't find them here. Just a great yarn that will have you cheering for the few good guys and mad at the rest.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 08-10-16

The dysfunctional foursome

This is the story of the founders of Twitter. I have heard about Twitter but have never used it or been on its site so all this information is new to me. I knew nothing about Twitter until reading this book. I did not even know it was a local San Francisco company.

Bilton tells the story of Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass and Christopher Stone the four founders of the company. The four men were working at a startup company called Odeo. Apparently at a brain storming session, they decided to build a mobile phone version of the “status updates” popularized by AOL. According to Bilton the growth into a global publicity machine just happened by accident. Glass was the one that came up with the name Twitter for the company. Bilton states that the company plunged from one operational fiasco to another.

Bilton describes Glass as an erratic moper, Williams as a slow indecisive leader; Dorsey is the one Bilton cast in the role of a schemer, narcissist, incompetent and inept. Dorsey was demoted from CEO and blamed Williams who he set out to destroy. The way Bilton told the story I felt sorry for Dorsey in the beginning because of the way he was deposed as CEO, but as the story progressed he lost my sympathy due to his vindictive behavior. Glass appears to have been left behind particularly in the area of money. I had sympathy for Glass as I felt he was poorly treated by his co-founders.

The book is well written and a fascinating read. Bilton did extensive research including interviews of the founders. The author primarily discussed what is wrong but they must have done many things right to build the company into a popular financial success. In many ways this book reads like a soap opera rather than a business book.

Daniel May does a good job narrating the book. May is an actor who also narrates audiobooks.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve
  • Ventura, CA, United States
  • 11-16-13

Excellent book

What did you love best about Hatching Twitter?

This was a spellbinding story about a company affecting our daily lives. I did not understand Twitter or its history before reading this book.

Any additional comments?

Would like to have seen more info on what Jack Dorsey was doing with Square. Not integral to the book, but would have provided background on one of books key characters.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • TM
  • 08-24-14

Shallow on Technology, Deep on Back-Stabbery

Any additional comments?

I really enjoy books about IT entrepreneurship and this was an enjoyable read.

I was hoping for more insight on the technical accomplishments of the early team, but it seems the author does not have a technical background. For example the term Operation System was used instead of Operating System (nerdy ouch!). But putting that aside there were almost no details on the technologies used, their innovations or how their outage problems were solved.

There was a lot more detail on the conniving and malevolent shenanigans of the co-founders as they attempted to wrest control of Twitter from each others' hands.

It seems to me that Twitter was successful despite the fairly inadequate leadership and the apparent lack of vision from any of the co-founders. The kernel of the idea by Jack Dorsey was as far as their "genius" extended. It seemed like the user-base of Twitter knew better than the folks who created it on how best it should be used.

Well worth a listen, especially if you have an interest in boardroom power games.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not bad

Written like a high school drama, which must be how the real story went down, this made for an interesting read with lots of personal stories and drama. It reminds of the show Silicon Valley. Sometimes repetitive and too gossipy, it did not provide a ton of meaty substance and context of Silicon Valley, but it made for a light read with some insights into what it's like to be part of all that.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent narrator

What does Daniel May bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Daniel is the reason I put all 5 stars. I am not native English and listening books requires effort for me. But this is first audiobook that i did not want stop listening mostly because narrator is live, engaged and use voice to highlight dialogs. Really enjoyed. Sad that other Daniel's book are on topics that are not close to me.

Any additional comments?

(mainly wrote this review because of narrator) Book itself is not bad too. It just too concentrated on dirty laundry. It would be more interesting have more details on decisions beyond firing friends. Some more background on founders. But overall is written with good language.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Somewhat disappointed.

What did you like best about Hatching Twitter? What did you like least?

I disliked all the hype about how great and interesting the book was, when it was more of an account of activities and not the controversial, earth shattering, reveal all book it was advertised as. I liked the factual guide through the history of the company from start to current day, but it was more of a historical re-count, not very earth shattering or enthralling.

Would you be willing to try another book from Nick Bilton? Why or why not?

The writing was solid and the performance very good, but I think the hype the tech community put on it really ruined the experience for me by raising expectations of the story.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Maybe when it came out on DVD, unless they throw some more color to what happened and make it a little more fictional, it would be kind of boring. If it were a documentary, that would be interesting, but probably a mirror image of this book.

Any additional comments?

Ok read, don't get your hopes up and you'll enjoy it more.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not enthralling, just interesting

I've read plenty of business stories and listen to many on podcasts. This one was just so-so and simply left me with the sense of "Wow! So happy I've never worked at Twitter." Bilton is a mediocre writer who has a love affair with his own metaphors and similes. He'll never be in the same league as Michael Lewis. If you are fascinated with Twitter, you will like this book. If you're not, there are more interesting books out there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A marvelous written XXI century book

Any additional comments?

A fantastic history of how life drama becomes part of every day business in an world where no one can't hide from reality.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging and addictive!

Amazing story of an amazing company. It's hard to believe this type of drama happens at successful companies, but this book is so meticulously researched and the stories are so detailed that it's completely believable. And, completely addictive and engaging. If you are interested in tech and Silicon Valley, this is a must-read!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful