The Twitter Threesome: How Ev Williams, Biz Stone, and Jack Dorsey Got Their Start

"We got lucky," says Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. "It doesn't mean we're geniuses."

Whether because of luck or genius, the microblogging site has grown to be one of the most popular websites in the world in the four years since it was first launched. With over 75 million users, Twitter has become popular not only as a social networking site, but as a grassroots news outlet for late-breaking events. The road that came before, however, was not an easy one for the young company.

Evan Williams was born on March 31, 1972 in Clarks, Nebraska. He grew up on a farm, far from the high-tech lifestyle he would later embrace, where his summers were spent irrigating crops. He enrolled in the University of Nebraska, but left after a year and a half to try his hand on the job market. He drifted from working on the family farm to jobs with several IT startups in Texas, but finally moved to Sonoma County, California, to work with the technology publishing company O'Reilly Media.

Although Williams started out in a marketing position, he soon became an independent contractor writing computer code, and scored freelance contracts with the likes of Intel and Hewlett-Packard. After meeting Meg Hourihan, the two co-founded Pyra Labs, a project management software company that was later acquired by Google. One of Pyra's key projects was Blogger, one of the first websites dedicated to creating weblogs that continues to dominate the blogosphere.

Jack Dorsey was born on November 19, 1976 in St. Louis, Missouri. From an early age, he demonstrated a knack for coding. By 14, he had already programmed an open source software program on dispatch routing that taxi companies continue to use to this day.

Dorsey attended Missouri University of Science and Technology, but later moved to California, and then Oakland to continue working on his dispatch programming. In 2000, he started his own online company to dispatch couriers, taxis and emergency workers. This work would soon evolve into an idea for real-time status communication.

Christopher Isaac "Biz" Stone was born on March 10, 1974 in Boston and grew up in Wellesley, Massachusetts. His entrepreneurial spirit showed at a young age, when he founded a lacrosse team in high school, and coordinated a senior play after the school decided to cancel it. Stone went to Northeastern University on a scholarship and majored in English. "I just thought I had to go to college after high school," he says. "No one ever told me I didn't have to."

Next, he tried the University of Massachusetts on a theatre arts scholarship, but he did not last long. While working as a stock boy at a publishing company, he secretly designed a book cover and stuck it into a pile of outgoing designs when everyone was at lunch. When the client chose his design, Stone was made a designer and dropped out of college.

In 1999, a friend of Stone's pitched him an idea for a new company called Xanga.com, which they launched together the next year. "It looked a lot like My Space before MySpace," he recalls. "It was a blogging community and got very popular very fast." But in less than a year, Stone had grown frustrated with the direction of Xanga and moved to Los Angeles, where he worked in television for awhile and wrote a book on blogging. He then returned to Boston to work for the Wellesley College Alumni Association.

It was at this crossroads that the three budding entrepreneurs would come together to make history.

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