Founder of Twitter Inc. Biz Stone believes the communications company made the right decision when it banned former President Donald Trump from operating in January, but that does not mean he is comfortable with it.
“It’s a formidable force,” Stone said during a Confederations Summit on Thursday. “A company official in San Francisco could silence the president of the United States. He was not elected, there is no such thing, yet that had a great impact. ”
Stone, who co-founded Twitter with Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey in 2006, is the latest chief technology officer to publicly ask whether communications companies have too much power when it comes to online policing.
Shortly after Trump’s ban, Dorsey himself questioned the power of Twitter. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. lawmakers last month that he was concerned about his company’s role in ousting Trump. “A lot of people are worried that the stadiums could block elected leaders,” he said during a March 25 hearing. “Me too.”
Stone said he was not involved in the official decision-making process for Trump, although he sent his comments to Dorsey and agreed with the decision.
“It was a good decision on Twitter I think,” he added. “But it’s also a little scary to know that there’s probably a lot of power in one person’s decision.”
Stone has been inexplicably silent since returning to Twitter in 2017. In the early days of the company, he was a prominent speaker, often speaking to the media or traveling abroad as a kind of Twitter ambassador, a role Dorsey and other Twitter partners. founder Ev Williams was not interested.
He was supposed to be a “residential businessman” at the financial firm Spark Capital in 2017 when Dorsey urged him to return to Twitter instead. Stone’s position on Twitter was probably not even clearer. “Someone mentioned that I just filled in the ‘Biz-shaped hole’ that I left behind,” he wrote on the blog at the time. “Don’t ever say the job description includes being a Biz Stone.”
That blog post now makes him frustrated, and Stone said he came to help make Twitter a place where people want to work again. At the time, the company was in dire financial straits. As it has just tried and failed to find a buyer, Twitter costs have reduced people, shut down and shut down its Vine video program.
“When I came back, the main reason was ‘let’s improve the character,'” Stone said. He has made short films about different groups within the company to highlight their efforts. He has also worked with Dorsey to create a statement of the company’s mission, “We are working for a public conversation,” often repeated by investment call managers and media events.
“It worked much better than I thought it would,” he said. “It highlighted all the things that were not conducive to public discussion and raised the question ‘why are we working on these things as well?'”
Now Stone is changing again. He said he took on the role of interim mentor on Twitter earlier this year, and has focused on some of his focus on foreign projects, including utilization and investment. “It’s almost like an eye,” he joked in a subsequent interview of his new focus on investment, a common approach for technology managers who make it big as part of a startup.
He started a new fund called Future Positive with his old business partner, Fred Blackford. The duo have successfully tried to buy Polaroid Holding Co in 2016, but many other Stone deals have been very successful. He has invested in start-up companies including Pinterest Inc., Slack Technologies Inc., Square Inc. and the “fake meat” company Beyond Meat Inc., of which he has become a board member.
Despite his experience of technology-building products, Stone said the fund will not look straightforward. “Good ideas can come from anywhere, so we’re not just focused on the typical Silicon Valley,” he said.
Stone said he is not completely out of Twitter. He wants to see how programs to allow workers to work remotely after the end of the Covid-19 epidemic will affect culture and help build it. There are many benefits to remote work, he said, but he has a trade.
“You lose serendipity and you lose the time you speak when you wait for the conference room to open,” he said. Those spontaneous moments will eventually need to be replaced by people who are not physically in office.
“If you completely lose what you have lost most of the company’s culture,” he added, “that, if the company’s culture is done well, can be a huge boost to the success of the company as a whole.”