Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

Rate this book
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.

288 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 5, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Nick Bilton

7 books1,345 followers
Nick Bilton is a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair, where he writes about technology, politics, business and culture. He is also a contributor to CNBC, and a former columnist and reporter for The New York Times.

He has written three books, including The New York Times bestseller, “Hatching Twitter,” which chronicled the turmoil and chaos inside Twitter as it grew from a fledgling startup to a multi-billion dollar company.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
6,626 (36%)
4 stars
6,932 (38%)
3 stars
3,175 (17%)
2 stars
766 (4%)
1 star
442 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,193 reviews
Profile Image for Eklein.
11 reviews38 followers
December 4, 2013
This book, in less than 140 characters: Nick Bilton really, really hates Jack Dorsey.

Hatching Twitter ultimately has a lopping, meta-quality to it: It's about the fight between the four founders for control of both the company and the origin story. But it is, itself, part of the fight between the four founders for control of both the company and the origin story. This is a fight that Biz, Noah, and Ev win even as it's a fight that they've more or less lost in real life.

But their victory in the book is so complete as to be suspicious. Bilton is so skeptical of Dorsey's motives, and so trusting of the other founders, that the account begins to read as overwhelmingly one-sided, even as it's deeply reported (including with Dorsey). This is perhaps most glaringly obvious in the closing vignettes, where -- no serious spoilers -- Jack's win is presented as a loss because, basically, he hasn't yet started a family of his own. Bilton's rooting interest is clear.

It's perhaps unfair to criticize a book for being about what it's about rather than what you want it to be about. But you learn precious little about Twitter as a technology or as a business here. The ousting of Ev, for instance, is clearly a more complex story than the Jack-as-svengali narrative that Bilton presents. There's a reason all these top investors with huge money on the line made the decisions they did. But it's a story that's glossed over in favor of a reconstruction of Dorsey's garden-variety scheming to return to the company.

Hatching Twitter is a quick read and thick with excellent reporting. But in the end Twitter is a lot more interesting than Ev or Noah or Jack or Biz. I'd have liked to learn more about it.
August 31, 2016
I FUCKING LOVE THIS BOOK

WITH ALL MY HEART

ITS EVERYTHING I HOPED FOR AND MORE!


This book made my heart hurt, a lot. I know they say never do business with friends and all that, but the ruthlessness with which the start up businesses in Silicon Valley treat their founders and engineers was positively shocking.

There are so many truth bombs in here - the social commentary on today's trends that were shaped BECAUSE OF the creation of Twitter and other new and emerging technologies was absolutely fantastic.

The writing in this is spectacular. I felt like I was a co-founder, going through the ups and downs of being involved in a technology start up in Silicon Valley myself. I can totally see why this has been optioned for television. We know which characters we are supposed to like, and which ones we are supposed to despise, and then there are a few that creep up on you and take you by surprise.

This book was utterly fascinating! I learnt a lot about Twitter, about Silicon Valley, about venture capitalism, about life and about loneliness.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was the fucking best and I have already bought a copy to keep, as I have to return this one to the library.

I will leave you with this quote, that really reflects on the real reason that Twitter was originally created, to help people feel less lonely......

"In the centre of every big city in the world, surrounded by noise and teeming millions of people, are lonely people. Loneliness is not so much where you are, but instead is your state of mind."


ONE THOUSAND STARS

Will read anything this man writes. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I imagine Ev as Donald from Silicon Valley. MY FAV.

Mountain View

I was put onto this book after reading this wonderfully educational article about silk road and since the book version of that story is not yet complete, I will make do with this bad boy instead.
Profile Image for Andy.
22 reviews6 followers
November 6, 2013
A stunning modern day story of a company trying to find it's identity in a medium, social media, that barely knows what it is. Zuckerberg may have been an a-hole, but at least he isn't Jack Dorsey.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,564 reviews263 followers
February 12, 2020
“In the past, history was always written by the victors. But in the age of Twitter, history is written by everyone.”
― Nick Bilton, Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal



Why is it that when smart executives get together and build something that turns into a billion dollar idea, inevitably lawsuites, arguments and bitter divides follow? We saw it with Facebook and apparently the inventors of Twitter are no different.

Not being a twitter member myself, I still had an interest in reading about the makers of it. What I discovered wasn't great. This book is packed full of information and does a good job explaining to readers the story of how Twitter came to be.

While I enjoyed the book (surprisingly alot) after awhile I had to skim a bit as all the fighting and arguments between the founders got to be to much. It is still a good read though and worth taking a look at.
January 4, 2014
This book is written like a bad valleywag or pando blog post. I knew very little going in and did learn a lot . Had no idea Dorsey was pushed out of the company and was at odds with the former founders. I had also never heard of Noah Glass, who was written out the
company's history despite being on the founding team and coining the name Twitter.

My problem was not with the facts, but how they were presented. The author pits Dorsey vs Williams and makes no attempt to hide that he is so clearly in favor of the latter.

The problem is the author over emphasizes Dorsey's mistakes and lets Ev off the hook for his failed vision and lack of execution. He just glosses over the fact that Ev didn't see the vision for mobile and Dorsey did. As if it was just a minor flaw. Doesn't even mentioned that Twitter epically failed to build a mobile app in the beginning, letting TweetDeck swoop in. I'm sorry, but I don't care how "good of a guy" Ev was . That mistake was huge. So huge that it could have bought down Twitter and it also most did. The author spends a paragraph talking about how Uber media got close to undermining Twitter.

Dorsey might be an A-hole, but he is not the dumb luck guy the author makes him out to be. He knew mobile was the future. He went built another billion dollar company on that! That's another point. Today , it is widely accepted that Twitters entire future is reliant on mobile. If your evaluating Jack's leadership ability or design capabilities how do you not treat Square as an after thought? The board didn't screw Ev over, like the author would have you believe. They were smart. They brought the guy in who can make good decisions. Williams missed the boat on mobile and for that he showed ineptitude that is not worthy for a CEO position.

When Dorsey got pushed out of Twitter, he went and built the most disruptive financial product since PayPal. Square is already valued at 3 billion, 10x of Blogger. What has Williams done since he was pushed out?

Dorsey has a lot of flaws, as do many successful leaders. As much as the author uses this book to bash on Jack, he can't argue with the facts.
Profile Image for Nathan.
Author 8 books112 followers
December 14, 2013
It's bizarre to read a True Life Story about people you know. Writing any kind of history is a fraught project, because the nature of the beast is that the people who talk to the author are the ones who get their side of the story preserved. It's clear from reading it who had Bilton's ear, and who didn't. Bill Campbell, advisor to the CEO, in particular comes across as a very loose unit, a testosterone-crazed shoot-first wingnut.

That aside, taking the version of history presented at face value, it's good to see human complexity and weakness writ large in a business book. Most business biographies are hagiographies, elevating some worthy CEO to Sainthood. Nobody gets a clear pass here because pressure and success amplify faults, whether indecision, greed, naivete, sloth. This much gels with my experience.

Entertaining, and perhaps more thought-provoking than intended because I was closer to it that most readers.
Profile Image for Caroline Johnson.
124 reviews734 followers
March 9, 2022
Mostly this just made me nostalgic for a time when we weren’t so connected online. Other takeaways include 1) Jack Dorsey is an absolute menace and 2) I will read anything Nick Bilton writes. Nick: if you’re seeing this I WOULD READ YOUR GROCERY LISTS
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,146 reviews502 followers
March 13, 2021
“In the past, history was always written by the victors. But in the age of Twitter, history is written by everyone.” ~ Nick Bolton

This is a biographical human interest tale of the four founders of Twitter and the power struggles which ensued in the company. Well told and well researched by a NY Times reporter.

Start-up four:
Biz Stone
Evan Williams
Noah Glass
Jack Dorsey

History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.~ Julian Barnes.

The intent of Blogger, Odeo, and ultimately Twitter was to give people from all over the planet an equal voice, to help those without power stand up against those who abuse power. ( There were already social media who served the purpose, such as Facebook and MySpace, Blogger, etc.) This is the story of how Twitter barged in with an initial 140-character service, initially intended to target mobile phones as an alternative to laptop computers for news. It leeched off telephone companies' SMS services by using the same technology to provide a free service. They later had to pay the telephone companies after backlash and lawsuits.

The struggle between Facebook and Twitter, the lies, deceit and betrayal: all elements which keep the tale riveting. (Aftermath: Facebook would later launch Whatsapp after Twitter owners reject Mark Zuckerberg's offer of a take over.)

The start-up techies who were employed by the Twitter co-founders to get things rolling were known at the time as 'hacktivists'-attacking anything contrary to their believes and ideals. They were part of an emerging group of protesters who used laptops instead of picket signs and blogs instead of bullhorns and who marched down the internet instead of paved streets. Their targets were bankers and governments. Havoc was the name of the game for someone like "Rabble" (real name Even Henshaw-Plath), who would be one of the new techies in the team. Blaine and Rabble posse, sticking to their anarchistic, antieverything mentality.

Big Tech is nothing different from politics or anything else where money and power is at stake. So this saga is nothing new really. The massive rise of Twitter's role in world politics, news media and social connection forced four young start-up individuals and their friends to evolve from anti-establishment youths to grown ups in a very short period of time.

Worth a read. A 2013 publication.

Now, in 2021, a totally different scenario exists. New social media start ups, massive movements away from Twitter and Facebook, the impact of Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, Gab, Tik Tok, et al. It's a dog-eat-dog scenario with vicious competition and more wars. Facebook, Google and Twitters' political involvement in controlling content spurred the establishment of new social media platforms to counter the loss of free speech. More political and governmental involvement, etc. What started out as a social phenomenon ended up being something totally different. Question: Did Twitter, Google and Facebook become the abusers of power?

This is the real story of Twitter. Not the one Jack Dorsey would like the world to believe - according to Nick Bolton. The sequel(s) to this saga might be even more interesting. Although the evolving of technology is a fast-track saga which render any book capturing the tales dated in a short period of time, Nick Bolton wrote this one to set a record straight. For history's sake.

The story is worth telling. And worth following, I would say.
Profile Image for M T.
19 reviews22 followers
November 6, 2013
A thrilling and vivid narration of the formation of Twitter. It contains fascinating stories of the drama surrounding the history of founders Jack, Evan, Biz, and Noah. The journalism is incredibly detailed and thorough, and the story is a consistent page-turner. Author Nick Bilton compiles hundreds of interviews with Twitter employees and documents secrets never before revealed. It is much more interesting than the history of Facebook, and also far more controversial. A group of young, brilliant, and rebellious geeks from nowhere become friends and accidentally found one of the most successful companies in the world, only to lose much of what they earned in bitter rivalry. Lots of backstabbing, lots of fun personal stories, and a fair share of dark humor and irony. A brilliant piece of storytelling (even if you have no interest in Twitter).
33 reviews11 followers
November 21, 2013
Having observed this true story from close quarters I can say that Bilton captures the essence of it, at least from a human interest standpoint. One could quibble over details that don't really matter, but he distills something essential of the startup experience--that it's ultimately about human relationships and trust, and that these are hard won but easily lost.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
August 10, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Troy Blackford.
Author 23 books2,499 followers
January 9, 2014
A fascinating and in-depth account of Twitter's creation and rise, from the conditions that led to its founders meeting to the shady and shabby way that the current power structure shook out.

This is a seriously intense story! As people involved in the creation of the site have pointed out, it's a shame that it didn't delve more into the technical aspects of the site's creation more, as that would have been interesting to hear about. But the personal intrigues and difficulties are more than worthy enough of a book. This was intense!

One thing I can say is that fiction definitely has an advantage that this non-fiction book doesn't: Any fiction book worth its salt that featured a character as conniving, backstabbing, whiny, and obsessive as Jack Dorsey would have dealt with him with satisfying maliciousness by the end. Pity that real life isn't as neat and tidy as a novel.
Profile Image for Kelly.
462 reviews125 followers
April 1, 2014
Pretty fascinating to read about the serendipitous nature of how the founders of Twitter got together...and how they came up with the idea and even the name. For example, Evan Williams was in a magazine photo (before Twitter was even a thought in his head) and his neighbor (Noah Glass) saw the picture, recognized the kitchen Evan was in, turned toward his window and realized the picture was taken in the apartment he was seeing from his window. He introduced himself to Ev...and the rest is history. The failures, changing of business models, betrayals, office politics, ruined friendships and marriages as well as several staged coups are unbelievable. But, I guess you can put up with that rubbish for a while if you end up a billion dollars richer ;-)
25 reviews44 followers
January 9, 2014
Not only was Hatching Twitter informative about the history of Twitter, but after reading it I notice that Bilton was definitely much less biased towards one side (or any of the three other sides) when reporting on the events that transpired in Twitter's extremely volatile history. In Hatching Twitter Bilton does not shine an extremely positive, they-can-do-no-wrong light on all of the original cofounders of Twitter, which is the opposite of the prevalent theme in Kirkpatrick's descriptions of Zuckerberg in The Facebook Effect. Bilton makes it very clear that the birth of Twitter was filled with hopes and aspirations of achieving friendship, but quickly grew into a terribly complicated and painful struggle for power by the cofounders and, as expected, the inescapable conflict of investors looking for money.

There is a huge laundry list of things Bilton does better than Kirkpatrick, but perhaps thats just a classic Twitter vs Facebook clash. In the argument of Hatching Twitter against The Facebook Effect, I definitely do think the Twitter story has an advantage because it is simply a more recent event in history. Twitter's history is heavily intertwined with news sources and reporters that lead their respective industry's journalism departments like Om Malik and celebrities whose experiences with Twitter are examples of its tremendous growth and reach like Ashton Kutcher. Twitter's unique product leads to unique, interesting events. Who would have thought Snoop Dogg would show up at Twitter HQ one day for a business meeting only to end up inadvertently kicking off a lunch-room rave in the middle of the day filled with rapping and weed? All of this is complemented by Bilton's handling of the Twitter story. Sometimes it seems like Bilton is jumping from point to point without much of a connection between the two, but in a way that's the essence of Twitter: you jump from one 140-or-less-characters story to the next.

In the end, the story of Twitter can be summarized as a Game of Thrones; the position of CEO at Twitter has changed hands so often with so many viable competitors willing to do anything to betray a former coworker or oftentimes a lifelong friend that it almost seems like a well-crafted fiction story. Regardless of all the drama, it makes for some very interesting storytelling.
Profile Image for Mahnam.
Author 15 books263 followers
Read
September 7, 2019
روایت نیک بیلتون، خبرنگار نیویورک تایمز از خلق و پیشرفت توئیتر. در این کتاب بیشتر با مؤسسان و افراد تأثیرگذار در سرنوشت توئیتر، زندگی و روابط آن‌ها روبه‌رو هستیم.
کتاب همان‌طور که انتظار می‌رود زیاد وارد مسائل فنی نمی‌شود و بیشتر به بازتعریف مشکلاتی می‌پردازد که برای مؤسسان جوان و بی‌تجربه‌ی توئیتر پیش آمده است. در این میان، مدام اشخاص مشهور دنیای سیاست و سینما و موسیقی چاشنی داستان هستند و با خواسته‌های خود به شهرت توئیتر می‌افزایند به‌مرور و گاهی هم به باری روی شانه‌های آن تبدیل می‌شوند.
خوانش این کتاب برای دوستداران توئیتر جذابیت‌های خاص خود را دارد اما برای آن‌ها که قصدشان راه‌اندازی کسب‌وکاری جدید است و می‌خواهند با معضلات موجود در مسیر و راه‌حل‌های احتمالی آشنا شوند، چندان راه‌گشا نیست هرچند می‌تواند برای این دسته از خوانندگان هم ایده‌هایی در بر داشته باشد.
Profile Image for Lisa.
114 reviews49 followers
September 3, 2022
I consider myself a super casual user of Twitter, and I wouldn't say I had a strong interest to learn more about the inevitable skeletons in the closet. I also feel I may be approaching my limit on stories about Silicon Valley tech bros. However, after reading American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road recently, I was really impressed by Nick Bilton's investigative reporting and his ability to tell a super engaging story, so I decided to pick up another one of his books. I was impressed once again.

I was a very late adopter of Twitter and I didn’t really pay much attention to it until probably around 2015, so I was mostly unaware of all the drama of the early days and the power struggles among the four founders. By the time I started using the platform, the name Jack Dorsey was synonymous with Twitter. Turns out that wasn’t always the case, and this book tells the fascinating story of the genesis of Twitter, the chaos of Twitter's exponential rise to popularity and unimaginable influence, and the constant betrayals among the founders.

This actually ended up being a very timely read given the recent whistleblower allegations from Twitter's former head of security. The struggles with the stability of the platform and the alarming security vulnerabilities are well covered in the book. However, this is a book about Silicon Valley, so you should definitely expect numerous egocentric men, lots of hemming and hawing about stock options, and some impressive celebrity name dropping (as well as the obligatory anecdote about Mark Zuckerberg's awkwardness…although I did find this one really entertaining!). I think Bilton did a great job of keeping the flashy Silicon Valley stuff as a subtopic (I actually don't think I rolled my eyes once during the book!) and instead focused on the friendships and the spirit of Twitter in the early days.

If you're looking for some solid investigative journalism and a captivating story about friendship versus power, this book is worth a read.
Profile Image for Rick.
Author 5 books73 followers
November 11, 2013
Who comes out best? Biz, with Ev #2.

Who comes out worst? Bill Campbell. Jack a close #2.

What can a budding young tech CEO take away from this book? Never, ever hire Bill Campbell to be your CEO coach.

Honestly, if there were a licensing committee for CEO coaches, if the tale in this book is true, Bill Campbell should be disbarred. It's a minor part of the book, but as someone who knew much of this while it was going on, it is by far the most shocking thing in the book.

The rest of the book is solid. I would have loved more of the later days - Dick's monetization tactics, the board reshuffle, Jack's less-than-stellar return. But still. This is a book that needed to be written, and I thank Nick Bilton for doing it. Brilliant move. Way more of a story here than with Facebook.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Nikolay.
99 reviews78 followers
January 31, 2022
If anybody wrote fiction startup drama novels, they would surely be less dramatic than Twitter’s early history.

Morals for me:
• avoid working with your best friends;
• egos and power are more important than money – you can repay money, but revenge leads to more aggression;
• when stakes are high it’s “hunt or be hunted” situation;
• you can change the world;
• avoid drama.
Profile Image for Aditya Hadi.
Author 2 books138 followers
January 7, 2017
Kisah ini belum selesai ... !!

Hal inilah yang terlintas di benak saya ketika menyelesaikan buku ini. Nick Bilton hanya sempat menceritakan kisah di balik layar yang penuh intrik dan pengkhianatan dari Twitter, hingga Dick Costolo menjadi CEO. Saya rasa Nick masih bisa membuat buku selanjutnya yang bercerita tentang kisah ketika Jack kembali menjadi CEO, seperti saat ini.

Buku ini menceritakan dengan sisi pandang orang ketiga yang seolah mengetahui segala hal di balik Twitter. Mulai dari keberhasilan Ev Williams menjual Blogger kepada Google, yang kemudian membawanya bertemu Noah Glass, Jack Dorsey, dan Biz Stone. Mereka kemudian membangun sebuah startup podcasting bernama Odeo, dengan Ev sebagai investor utamanya.

Ketika menyadari kalau Odeo akan gagal, mereka pun mulai mencari proyek lain. Jack hadir dengan konsep berbagi status, Noah memberinya nama Twitter, Ev membuat arah bisnis dan menjadi investor utama, dan Biz mengerjakan segala hal yang tidak dikerjakan oleh tiga rekannya tersebut.

Kericuhan pertama yang terjadi di Twitter adalah keputusan Ev untuk mengeluarkan Noah dari proyek tersebut, dan menunjuk Jack sebagai CEO. Sadar kalau Jack belum layak sebagai CEO, ia pun turut mengeluarkannya dan menjadikan dirinya sendiri sebagai CEO Twitter. Seperti mendapat karma, Ev sendiri kemudian diturunkan dari posisinya sebagai CEO. Dick Costolo menjadi CEO, dan Jack kembali masuk ke lingkungan internat Twitter.

Beberapa pelajaran yang bisa kita ambil dari buku ini adalah:
- Tidak disarankan untuk memilih teman dekat untuk menjadi rekan bisnis. Terkadang mereka tidak cukup kompeten, dan juga tidak terbukti lebih setia dibandingkan jika kita memilih orang lain.
- Seorang pemimpin harus waspada terhadap segala hal, baik ancaman dari luar maupun dari dalam perusahaan.
- Persiapkan segala hal agar produk kamu tidak mati atau berantakan di saat-saat yang genting. Twitter hampir mengalami masalah ketika mereka berhadapan dengan Oprah dan Presiden Rusia yang ingin mengirimkan tweet pertama.
- Terakhir, jangan berpikir kalau penggulingan kekuasaan CEO atau semacamnya hanya terjadi di startup Silicon Valley seperti Twitter. Hal ini pun sudah terjadi lho di dunia startup tanah air :)
Profile Image for Sasha.
137 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2013
I guess I am in the minority with only four stars, but he lost a star for his writing style. I thought it was choppy, with more grammatical/typographical errors than I would have expected, and it was poorly divided up. For example, after a chapter/section heading of "#Jack" it would start with a story about Jack and then flip backwards to stories about Biz, or Bijan, or Ev. Which is fine it just didn't flow. It is clear that he is a journalist, and not a novelist.

That being said, he put together an amazingly accurate factual history (I am friends with someone high up at Twitter who knows and confirmed this) based on emails and tweets, and that must have taken some serious time. The story itself is fascinating and I love that it all took place in San Francisco, (where I live) so I could literally picture each scene with total clarity.

On the last day I was reading it, on the bus, I looked up and saw Jack Dorsey walking down the street, earbuds in, sparkly white tennis shoes on. It was crazy - I thought I had imagined it at first.

The story itself is fascinating. It is also sad, and haunting, and should be a lesson, but probably won't be.

Profile Image for Abbey.
55 reviews143 followers
September 23, 2015
I know this is a true story but I was still so disappointed by the ending! Hah. Such a great read- I flew through it. So interesting to hear the background of Twitter from all the different sides of the story.
Profile Image for Dmytro Shteflyuk.
53 reviews16 followers
August 20, 2017
Have you ever wondered what would "Game of Thrones" look like in the modern world? This is the scariest book I have ever read, full dreadfully cruel office politics, mistakes, but also inspiration, leadership, and business lessons. The world will never be the same for me.

Would I recommend this book to anyone close to the startups world? Hell yes, this should be your next book. Are you wondering what startup world looks like? Read the book. Interested in the story of how Twitter was born, and how it was growing up? You will find the answers in this book.
Profile Image for Yoly.
544 reviews40 followers
August 9, 2014
With more drama than a Mexican telenovela, this book tells the story of twitter.
This book gives you the background of each of the founders and how they came together to create what we today call twitter. I was a big fan of Jack Dorsey but sadly this book took that away :)

At first I was a little put off with the author's style. To me it seemed a bit pretentious because he started on an overly dramatic tone and you would think the author thought he was writing a novel. After I got further into the book I realized that any other type of narrative would've made this book really boring, so the style that at first I thought would take away at least one star from my review ended up pulling me into the story and wanting to know what happened next like a mystery novel.

I listened to the audio version which had a great narrator.
Profile Image for Patrick.
206 reviews9 followers
September 1, 2014
Compelling narrative peels back layers of hype about Twitter. It is a rather sad story in many ways that might change your opinion about some people involved in the company. The book is particularly entertaining if you were using Twitter since the Fail Whale days. Good job by @NickBilton mining the social media record from a time when people were not as aware they were writing their own histories 140 characters at a time.
Profile Image for Nisha D.
141 reviews8 followers
May 16, 2018
This was such an interesting read! I'm not a twitter user and haven't cared enough about the company to follow it's growth over the years, so all of this information was new to me. I am a fan of Nick Bilton, I read American Kingpin last year and thought it was amazing. Hatching Twitter is just as well written and researched, I highly recommend it to tech lovers and non-fiction aficionados.
Profile Image for Karen.
82 reviews2 followers
December 13, 2013
Reads like a high-tech soap opera but interesting nonetheless. What sticks for me is not the story of the company but the tale of how people who claim to be friends can be such schmucks to each other.
August 31, 2020
It's like Game of Thrones without the murder... but it actually happened. Turns out people can be quite big cunts when money and power are on the line.
Profile Image for Scott Holstad.
Author 23 books60 followers
April 3, 2015
I've never read about such a group of immature, whiny, backstabbing losers in my life! To think that some reviewers consider them brilliant is really pretty funny. They were mediocre thinkers with mediocre talent who couldn't cut it in real places, like Xerox PARC or Google, so they wind up at a start up, broke and desperate. The one who has had success, Ev, is good for the seed money. He at least founded Blogger, so he actually had done something, which was sold to Google for millions, making him successful. The other three Twitter founders -- Noah, Jack, and Biz -- were pretty much losers. They founded a company called Odeo that was going to take podcasting by storm, but were beaten to the punch by Apple. Jack and Noah drunkenly came up with the idea for Twitter one night, as an idea to escape loneliness. Noah came up with the name. And so it began. Ev stayed in the background, Biz handled publicity, Noah was the CEO and Jack was in charge of Engineering. I believe, if my memory serves me. This didn't last long. They had a board with capital invested and soon there was rumbling, with Ev doing his fair share of the rumbling. And so Noah was forced out. Jack was brought on as CEO and Ev as chairman. Biz did what he did best. In a little while, Twitter starts taking off, slowly, very slowly at first, but surely. Jack didn't want hash tags, but they emerged and they were brilliant. However, it became clear to everyone that Jack couldn't run a company. They were losing money left and right, weren't making a dime, everyone was on edge, and Ev and the board had had it up to here. So more backstabbing. And Jack was out the door. To plot his revenge. Ev took over as CEO. After all, he had successfully run Blogger, so why not this? Sounded good. Twitter had bought another company a little while before this happened and Jack had asked their main engineer to become director of ops at Twitter, a position this man didn't feel he was qualified for. After Jack was gone, the board asked him for a briefing. He told them, in a state of disbelief, that there was no backup to the system. That if the system crashed, Twitter was gone. And that Twitter was held together with string and wires to begin with. Not good news. They got to work fixing that. Jack had been in way over his head. [Let me interject here. It's clear that the author HATES Jack in this book, and has a serious man crush on Ev, so you have to take everything written about them with a grain of salt.] Okay. Twitter has grown to millions and millions of users. Hosting many millions of tweets daily. Ev has helped people like Oprah tweet her first tweet live on TV. But Jack has been plotting with one of the board members, who -- and this is never clearly explained -- loves Jack dearly, to get Jack back into the company. I could go on and on, but long story short, Ev is backstabbed by Jack and the board, is shoved out the door, Jack comes back as head honcho, Biz quits, we never hear from Noah again, and Twitter continues on, in spite of total incompetence and arrogance. Good book to read, disgusting people to read about. Cautiously recommended.
Profile Image for Casey.
272 reviews123 followers
August 9, 2014
I don't really use Twitter. This isn't out of ignorance or confusion: I've been pretty well informed about Twitter since the beginning, given the amount of press it got in places like Lifehacker, and I've definitely signed up for the service more than twice. The issue for me has always been that it's fundamental purpose has never seemed clearly defined: is it for personal status updates to let friends and family know what you're doing? Should you use it as a promotional tool to direct people from Twitter to your website? Does it work best as a news service? Of course, the answer to all of these things is yes, which has left me feeling that Twitter was a little too scattershot for my tastes.

Hatching Twitter, a narrative non-fiction account of the creation of the service that reminded me, more than once, of The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal, reveals that no one at Twitter could really agree on what it was for, either. Jack Dorsey always saw it as a status update system, a way of letting people know what you're doing. Evan Williams, on the other hand, thought of it as microblogging. Twitter seemed to grow autonomously, creating it's own conventions with @ messages and hashtags, well beyond the concept the founders set out for the site. The book is an interesting look at how technologies sometimes seem to control and change themselves.

This is also the story of personal in-fighting between the myriad founders, CEO's, and board members of Twitter. It's all super interesting, although I get the feeling that the story was quite a bit more nuance than Bilton makes it out to be. What does seem clear is that Twitter suffered from executives with unclear and undefined roles, who had major issues trying to monetize the service. It's all outlined in a page-turnery way, which is fun.

Who knows, maybe I'll attempt to tweet about this book review. Maybe it will be the first in a long line of tweets. Or maybe not. As Bilton points out, more than once, the people behind Twitter desperately wanted to feel connected to others, and shouting into what feels like a cavernous abyss probably won't help there, even if your words echo back to you.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,193 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.