- Twitter co-founder Biz Stone showed a picture of himself dressed in a
tuxedo with a huge smile on his face, holding hands with his wife, in a
wedding dress, covering her face with her hand.
"This photo was
taken about 30 seconds after I got married," Stone told an audience of
about 1,000 at a luncheon Wednesday at the Palais des congrès. "I look
like the happiest guy and the world, and my wife looks like she made a
In town to speak as the invited guest of the Board
of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Stone said businesses and
entrepreneurs need to take pride in their mistakes. If he hadn't, he
never would have created the microblogging site in 2006 along with Jack
Dorsey, Noah Glass and Evan Williams.
He spoke about many of his
failures as an entrepreneur, first as the inventor of a company that
allowed people to send broadcasts to iPods ("we thought we were
geniuses, and it turns out it was called podcasting and people were
already doing it.")
"Failure is great," he said. "It's really
scary, but it's totally worth it, because you can't succeed at these
exponential levels unless you dramatically fail."
Stone even spoke of the initial failures of Twitter.
"When we started it, nobody thought it was a very good idea," he said. "But we kept working on it."
he realized he was onto something when he attended the South by
Southwest music and interactive festival in 2007, and saw how people
were using the site to communicate about events taking place there.
person tweeted to tell a few people to meet him at a bar, and in the
eight minutes it took him to walk to that bar, it had filled to capacity
and there was a line out the door," he said.
Twitter, and other
social media tools allow people to communicate instantly. It has
fostered revolutions, as seen in last year's Arab Spring uprisings, and
changed the way companies communicate with their customers. Stone
envisions social media playing a role in uniting the world and making it
a better place.
"The more connected we get through all social
media, the more humanity can move as one," he said. "Maybe I'm just
being hallucinogenically optimistic, but the idea that once we're
connected we'll be able to move together, suggests we'll be able to get a
lot more done in a lot shorter time."
Stone, who is a vegan, said
his goal for any of his enterprises is to help improve the world, make
money and have fun. And he said every company should have a strong
"It just makes good business sense because
consumers and good employees are attracted to products and companies
that care about the world," he said. "If there's a $5-million marketing
budget, maybe, you can spend $4 million bringing clean water to a region
in India, and another million making a big deal about that."
he has spent most of his professional life working for technology
companies, he said he learned many relevant skills in his first job as a
"I learned creativity is a renewable resource,"
he said. "It's a wonderful way of thinking about challenges, because it
turns work into play. It makes everything fun, and you can always take
another crack at something."
His advice when looking for solutions to a problem is to try to find the most creative, off-the wall idea and see if it works.
who is listed as Twitter's creative director, left the company's
day-to-day operations last June and is taking time to launch a new
venture. He's also taking time to spend with his son, Jacob, who was
born in November.
He said he was proud that Twitter hired a
corporate social responsibility employee before it hired its first
salesperson. But even the microblogging site isn't infallible. Last
week, the company came under fire for storing the information from
contact lists of iPhone users for a period of 18 months. The company
later apologized and altered its user agreement.
He said when
companies like Twitter make mistakes, they must confess their errors.
And he said social media is a great way for companies to seem more
approachable to customers.
"I think vulnerability is essential,"
he said. "For so long, companies and brands thought they needed to seem
bulletproof. I think when a brand uses Twitter, they're able to
communicate when they make a mistake. I think when you do things like
that you reveal you're open and honest and willing to change and admit
to your mistakes. I think brands are using it to really build trust with