Life After Twitter

Life After Twitter

About a month ago, I was let go from Twitter. Everyone has their own view of what happened and why and I’d rather not add to the speculation. What I’ll talk about is my experience there, what I’ve been doing, and what I am working on.

@Twitter

When you’re working for a global brand, it can be pretty amusing (and frustrating) to hear what people think goes on inside the walls of Twitter. I remember how some people I talk to couldn’t understand how Twitter could have >100 employees (now I believe over 600) to run a service that was essentially 140 characters. Then the next person I talked to would be shocked at how Twitter could run a real-time search engine, a top web destination, multiple mobile clients, and a rich developer platform with so few people.

For me, during my first week at Twitter, what was most striking was just how much was going on and how much thinking had been done—and not just in terms of product. Every element, from the brand, to the artful videos, to how to decide if an account is spam, to the legal policy on subpoenas, to how the culture should evolve, was considered deeply. This sort of careful attention isn’t always obvious. When everything seems to be going smoothly, that’s when the most work and thought has been done.

One rarely has the opportunity to work on a world-changing service that gives every individual a voice. Everyday, I found myself thinking, “this job is amazing! I can’t believe I get to work on this!”  Coordinating the redesign of twitter.com was possibly the most challenging project I’d ever worked on. But what was most rewarding, and what I will miss most, was the environment and the people. Smart people are hard to find. Smart people who are humble, supportive, positive, funny, and genuinely interesting are nearly impossible to find but Twitter was full of them. Over the past few weeks, a few more of these key smart people are taking their leave. The company and the culture is evolving quickly and it will be interesting to observe, now from the outside, where they go from here.

What I’ve Been Doing

The response since my departure has been overwhelming, touching, and flattering. I feel incredibly lucky to have so much support and so much interest.

As it turns out, being unemployed in the current market can mean being even busier than when you’re employed. Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time talking. I’ve kept an open mind to who I meet: reconnecting with old friends, getting advice from peers, meeting new companies, visiting larger companies, meeting investors, brainstorming with friends, helping out startups. You might say I’ve exceeded my quota for 50 coffee meetings this month alone.

In addition to exploring what’s out there, I’ve been spending time finishing a book I’ve been writing for years and prepping for Burning Man.

What I’m Doing Next

“The best time to start a company is always two years ago, and the next best time is now. So now it is.”Caterina Fake, co-founder Flickr, Hunch

When I interviewed at Twitter, I distinctly remember the interview I had with Ev. We were talking about corporate culture and I mentioned that I’d been thinking a lot about it. I kept a personal wiki of notes for when I started my own company.

“I’d like to see that,” Ev said. I was a bit nervous, given that it’s a very rough internal notebook, but I pulled it up on the phone and we had a great discussion around it. (Side note: take the time to list what kind of company you want to work at and show it to your next interviewer. It’s a great calibration tool.)

Ev then asked, “so you want to eventually start a company?”

I responded hesitantly at first, “well, yeah, I think…that is if…um…” then thought about it and knew the answer was clear, “yes.”

On the same day that Twitter and I parted ways, I knew what I wanted to do next. I don’t yet know what it is, what problems it will solve, what platform it runs on, whether it will get funded, whether it will last more than a week, or what it will be called. But I’ve run out of excuses; It’s time to start something. Get in touch if you want to help or have ideas. Stay tuned.

21 Comments

  1. dwlt · 19 Aug 11

    Can’t wait to see what you start – best of luck from Scotland!

  2. Don Rescigno (@DRescigno) · 19 Aug 11

    I really enjoyed reading this. New Twitter is a great accomplishment and you should be very proud of your work. It will be fun to see what you do next–exciting stuff, I’m sure. Best of luck.

  3. Jay Zipursky · 19 Aug 11

    Awesome, Kevin. Good luck!

  4. Tim Van Loan · 19 Aug 11

    An excellent way to summarize an incredible step in your career. Everything you’ve done till now has gotten you ready for what’s to come- now you’re the captain of your own ship and get to choose which direction to sail. Any way you choose, we’re excited to see what you create :)

  5. Blain Smith · 19 Aug 11

    Very nice post. Good luck from upstate NY!

  6. Frank Yoo · 19 Aug 11

    Great post, Kevin. Can’t wait to see what you build. Whatever it is, I’m certain it will crushhh. Best of luck, my friend.

  7. Dave (@TweetSmarter) · 19 Aug 11

    I’d be happy to talk with you about some big, amazing ideas that have come my way. I realize we’ve never met, but I get some sense I have one or two things you would find fascinating.

    I’m sure we could find a way to be respectful of how busy we both are and yet share some interesting thoughts at some point. You can reach me via my Twitter handle or email address.

  8. laura · 19 Aug 11

    Can’t wait to see what you tackle Kevin. Much luck, and have fun Burning the Man!

  9. Chris Shiflett · 19 Aug 11

    Fuck yeah. Can’t wait to see what’s next. See you at Brooklyn Beta.

  10. Annie · 19 Aug 11

    Best of luck, Kevin! As always, I will be following your adventures and living vicariously. :)

  11. Yvonne Shek · 19 Aug 11

    The best of luck on your next steps! Whatever it is, you’ll be great. I know that! Oh yeah, and finish that book!

  12. Jason Hoffman · 19 Aug 11

    I’m proud of you, and it’s been years of watching you get everything in place to strike out on your own. Just remember you’re not alone, I know I would do anything to help!

  13. Kristen Taylor · 19 Aug 11

    Good luck! Look forward to meeting you at Brooklyn Beta, I’m a new Studiomate and hear great things about your talk last year :)

  14. Thomas Knoll · 19 Aug 11

    YES. PLEASE. WORLD, give Kevin an outlet for his epic vision, attention, and clarity.

    You have 110% of my support. And, I cannot wait to fill another slot on your coffee meeting card.

  15. Matt Mahoney · 19 Aug 11

    Thank you for the honest and inspiring post. And thank you for making things easier to use. You’re doing what the world needs more of on all fronts. I’m also looking forward to whatever’s next. Have fun with it (and in BRC).

  16. jesse · 20 Aug 11

    Congrats, Kev. #envy #vicariousness

  17. Dale Allyn · 20 Aug 11

    Nicely done, Kevin. Congratulations and good luck. Best wishes to you looking forward.

  18. Peter Boersma · 20 Aug 11

    Hope to catch up at UX Week. Sounds like you could use another coffee and a beer. Or a mojito! :-)

  19. Alan Chiu · 22 Aug 11

    Now is the time. All the best, Kevin!

  20. Ian Kennedy · 25 Aug 11

    Clear your mind and hit me up after Burning Man – I’m working on a few things that might interest you as a side project. I’m sure you have no shortage of choices!

  21. Barce · 7 Oct 11

    You’ve given me lots of encouragement at the last lunch we had where you took the check. It’s my turn to get you lunch. Since that lunch, I’ve become a hard working soldier. I don’t blink at working 3 weekends in a row like I did just now as Machinima’s lead dev. Thank you. All the best!