Lesson #3: “There is something healthy about friendly competition”
"There's a lot we can learn from smart people out in the world," says Stone. "One of the things I like so much about President Obama is his global vision that it's not a zero-sum game, where one country is going to win the game of earth. We have to work together."
"I love that philosophy, and it fits with Twitter because we work with so many companies," he says. "The variety, the openness, and believing very basically that the open exchange of information is something that can impact the world in a positive way - from that belief, so many decisions are made easier."
The co-founders of Twitter have taken a unique approach to their operations. They are choosing collaboration over competition, the promotion of open information exchange where once it was might have been blocked, and instilling that culture throughout their company.
"Previous companies I'd done before I left, I left because I didn't really like where the culture was going and I wanted to leave," says Stone. "I was too young to realize that I could have an impact on changing it; if I didn't like it, I could work harder."
At Twitter, Stone is working harder. From day one, the co-founders have had to deal with rumours that the company was trying to go after Facebook's market. Stone, however, says that doing so would not only be pointless, but would actually undermine their own success.
"I think a lot of folks are just wired that way. It's product A or product B, like those blind taste tests. There is something healthy about friendly competition - it's like a scrimmage or a pick-up game - that's good. But the truth of it is that we're all working together," he says.
"Look at all the companies in Silicon Valley. They all have, to varying degrees, open systems that interoperate with one another. People are using these systems for different reasons. There's room for everybody, although I think people are often wired to think that way."
Twitter also worked with some of the industry's heavy-hitters when it came under attack from hackers early on. "What we have learned from this is that you have to tune your systems to handle this level of assault, this scale of assault," says Stone. "We spent a lot of 2008 catching up with a lot of the popularity of Twitter, the unexpected popularity - getting there technically, so that we were stable. And along comes this massive attack. You know, we learned. We worked behind the scenes with folks from Google and other companies to figure out how to stop the attacks and how to better deal with them in the future."
Stone likes to call it "nourishing the ecosystem," and believes Twitter has a role to play in facilitating the open exchange of information in all its forms. "It's like Coke versus Pepsi," he says. "I noticed the other day that they are following each other on Twitter."
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