Bilton’s novel did not disappoint. Though some have criticized the accuracy of the book, mostly the chronology and truthfulness of the narrative arc. Critics argue that the interviews conducted do not provide a complete picture, and given the egoism of most of the personalities involved, that’s not hard to imagine. Either way, the story of Twitter’s founding (as compiled by Bilton) is a definite page-turner. Featured is the expected assortment of tech nerds, each of which experienced his (yes his, the only women in this story are love interests) fair share of rejection / hardship / social rejection before becoming a part of the Twitter story. As with the Facebook story, there is an argument over whose idea it was and who the founders are (and thus who deserves a cut of the profit). There is backstabbing, fast friendships that form and dissolve, and what looks like an enormous mess of a company. Though it’s terrifying to think that with such a high valuation, the company might be internally unstable, that’s a concern for the investor. For the reader, it’s a compelling drama with turn after turn and characters who fascinate.
As many may already know, Twitter was founded by four individuals – Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. Each is equally interesting, and I think Bilton does a great job (at least from my outsider perspective) of capturing the personalities and quirks of all. There are villains galore, but no true evil, all are simply motivated by ego, past-failings, and drive for success and recognition. Noah is probably the one true victim, cut early from the company and the story, excluded from the fame and riches that eventually followed.
Jack is often the focus of interest from the media and from readers. After being forced from the company, Jack goes rogue, continuing to conduct interviews and speak on behalf of the company despite not being a part of it. In addition, he reinvents his own mythology, shaping himself into the second coming of Steve Jobs. The conniving actions and sheer petulance was enough to drive me bonkers with his character, but for those who love Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey would be of definite interest.
I’m a nut with highlighting when the book demands. This one did not really but, there were a few quotes that I liked. One in particular was when Bilton talks about a deadline that was handed to Dorsey, “Of course, they knew Jack couldn't fix anything in three months, or three years. He was incapable of running the company. It was like watching somebody try to build sandcastles underwater.” I thought that was such a poetic way of stating Jack’s managerial inabilities. The author has a few turns of phrase, like the aforementioned, that stand out because of the metaphors he conjures.
This book is a quicker read, it’s fast-paced and not too long. The plot is shaped such that you won’t want to put it down. For those who love business books, this would be a surefire win. But for those who don’t necessarily love the genre, if you like or are interested in the tech space and/or are looking for a good story, this is not a bad option.