Confessions of a creative mind
Ali Tufan KoçGame-changer? Sure. A winner? Definitely. A Silicon Valley-type millionaire/playboy? Well, not exactly. Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter, is not the kind of guy you might think. And his “confessional” book, “Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind” is definitely not the kind of book you might expect.
Here, we are with Stone on the Arab Spring, being a “Ringo Starr,” and who would play him if the Twitter story turns into a movie.
According to the book, you seem to be a genuinely nice guy, probably the nicest one in Silicon Valley. Is it hard to be a nice person up there?
No, it’s not hard to be nice anywhere. If you enjoy being nice and helping people, then it’s not a chore, it’s just the way you’re wired. That’s just what I’m like. I don’t work at being nice; I’m just generally nice and helpful. I’ve found that in the long run, being nice pays off.
It seems like your role at Twitter was more to be a positive force and to keep up the company’s spirits. How’s it to be like a ‘Ringo Starr figure,’ the one tying it all together?
It came naturally to me so it was okay. At times it was stressful because I wasn’t just looking out for my company and my co-workers, I was also looking out for the reputations of my friends and how they would be perceived post-Twitter. Occasionally I had to be not-so-nice.
The book is not including any of the arguments between co-founders. Why?
The book is based on my experience. I didn’t interview anyone else. Any arguments I personally had are in the book. Sometimes I argued about the product, sometimes I argued about the policy and sometimes I argued about staying neutral in politics. I never wanted to be CEO so I had no such arguments.
The book title is called ‘Confessions of the Creative Mind’ but apparently it lacks a big confessions and any juicy stuff.
The sub-title was my editor’s idea. The stress is supposed to be on the word ‘creative.’ It was meant to convey my creative approach to problem solving, both at Twitter and in my life in general. We may change the sub-title to something different for the paperback because it’s not a gossip book.
If the story of how Twitter founded was turned into a movie, just like a Social Network, how would it be like?
If the story of how Twitter was founded turns into a movie, it would be a comedy. It might even be a cartoon. I’d probably end up being a dog who can talk.
Turkey comes right after the U.S. and is the second country all around the world in terms of using social media. Are you working on any different strategy for the Turkey market?
I’m no longer at Twitter day-to-day so I don’t lead any strategies. I’m working on a new product called ‘Super.’ However, I will tell you that, in general, I don’t have different strategies for different regions of the world. In my experience, social media is a kind of common denominator among humanity and there is no need to design it any differently other than translating the language.
Twitter became phenomenon right after the ‘Arab Spring’. What was it like to being a change-maker and play a key role in changing the world?
It was the people on the ground in the region that made the change, not me, and not my team. Twitter was a good tool for people to use in terms of communicating and self-organizing but it cannot be stressed enough that the credit goes to the brave men and women who were risking their lives to bring about change in their country. During that time, I was called upon to do many interviews, which I declined because it would not have been inappropriate for me to link myself to that bravery and heroism simply because the tool I built was in the right place at the right time.