Jack Dorsey Says Twitter Should Have Been a “Protocol”, Not a Company

Posted on August 26, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Cloud, Social with 18 Comments

Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter has some interesting thoughts about the company he co-founded back in 2006. Answering a question from a random Twitter user asking him if the company had “turned out the way you wanted,” Dorsey’s answer was quite unexpected.

“The biggest issue and my biggest regret is that it became a company,” the Twitter co-founder bluntly said. That’s a pretty bold claim from an Internet entrepreneur, to say the least.

Dorsey later elaborated about what he would have liked Twitter to be: “A protocol. Def can’t be owned by a state, or company. Becomes clearer every day.” When asked if it was too late for this, Dorsey replied “Nope.”

Twitter is one of few companies that really exploded during the “web 2.0” era, even though the social network didn’t manage to gain a billion active users like YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. Still, Twitter still plays a key role in the media industry, and it very much remains the place where news can go viral.

Twitter had quite a complex relationship with its community over the years, though. Until recently, Twitter was trying hard to become a walled garden.

For years, the company discouraged developers from creating better third-party apps by providing them with an outdated API (this finally changed earlier this year). In parallel, there’s still a big incentive to stick with the official Twitter clients as that’s where new features are regularly introduced.

Dorsey resigned from his Twitter CEO position back in November 2021, and he later left the company’s board of directors back in May. Since then, Twitter has been in a lot of turmoil with a proposed acquisition by Elon Musk that eventually evolved into a trial.

In some way, Dorsey’s comment about making Twitter an open “protocol” like email echoes what Musk previously said about open-sourcing Twitter’s algorithms. At that time, Dorsey seemed supportive of this plan, tweeting that “The choice of which algorithm to use (or not) should be open to everyone.

It’s hard to say if Dorsey’s vision for Twitter as an open protocol is realistic or not. Technology like email isn’t going away, but communication is slowly but surely moving to closed platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Discord, WhatsApp, iMessage etc.

Do you like Twitter the way it is today, or do you think, like Jack, that it’s not too late to turn it into something more open and decentralized? Sound off in the comments below.

Tagged with