Biz Stone's Departure Leaves No Full-time Founder at Twitter

Joins Co-founder Evan Williams at Obvious Corp.

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Twitter co-founder Biz Stone's decision to join fellow company alumnus Evan Williams at Obvious Corp. leaves Twitter with none of its creators fully devoted to the microblogging service.

Biz Stone
Biz Stone Credit: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg

Obvious, a startup incubator that helped give rise to Twitter, will be revamped to focus on "solving big problems" and help develop systems that "improve the world," Mr. Stone said yesterday on his blog. Mr. Williams had announced in March that he was stepping away full time from Twitter, though he remains involved in the company.

While co-founder Jack Dorsey is still at Twitter as executive chairman, he divides his time with another startup, mobile-payment company Square, where he serves as CEO. Twitter's newer executives are now working to maintain user growth and compete with social-networking rivals such as Facebook, without as much day-to-day help from the founders.

"The Twitter crew and its leadership team have grown incredibly productive," Mr. Stone said in the blog posting. "I've decided that the most effective use of my time is to get out of the way until I'm called upon to be of some specific use."

Twitter is run by former Google product manager Dick Costolo, who took the reins from Mr. Williams last year. While Twitter's traffic has surged over the past four years, its advertising business has grown more slowly than at Facebook, the world's largest social network. Its ads may generate less than a 10th the revenue of Facebook's this year, according to New York-based eMarketer.

The three founders remain involved in Twitter, the San Francisco-based company said in an e-mail.

"Twitter is lucky to have all three of our founders still deeply connected to the company," Twitter said. "Jack is executive chairman and leads our product team; Biz works closely with us on social good efforts, consumer media opportunities and various other projects; and Ev is regularly involved at the board level."

Obvious also will be run by Jason Goldman, a former Twitter executive. Obvious was first created by Mr. Williams to buy back a company from investors that he and Mr. Stone failed to sell about six years ago, Mr. Stone said. The two began working together after leaving Google in 2005.

The assets from their failed company included Twitter -- which lets users publicly write 140-character messages to people who follow them, Mr. Stone said. Messrs. Williams and Stone, as well as Mr. Dorsey, continued building the company within Obvious. In 2007, the group raised capital from outside investors and rolled out the service.

-- Bloomberg News --

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