Twitter and Jack Dorsey’s story through a source lens

This post is based on an email exchange between Charles Davies, Peter Koenig and Tom Nixon.

Here’s some fascinating insight into Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, and founder of Square. If we look at his story through a lens of the source principles, it’s much easier to understand the tensions and events which have unfolded.

Dorsey has had an awkward (to say the least) relationship with Twitter. This makes sense since Ev Williams was the source of the company in which Dorsey came up with the idea for Twitter. But Dorsey is clearly the source of the Twitter product itself. It looks like Williams and Dorsey never reconciled this.

My hunch is that Dorsey’s passion (which we can see he has in spades from the energy he has put into Square) was stifled at Twitter. This is normal when a source is not recognised as such or doesn’t stand in their full authority.

A huge contrast at Square where he has been an absolute demon of authority, although it looks like he is doing it the difficult way – through absolute control and micro-management rather than providing a very clear brief for others to follow.

Meanwhile, Williams founded his next company, Medium, using Holacracy as the ‘operating system’. Holacracy is a wonderful model, but with some fundamental flaws in how it handles creative authority. Perhaps, having had such bitter experience with his and other’s authority at Twitter, he is rejecting authority, and decentralising it to a group. It’s likely this will cause problems for Medium in the future as it drifts without a clear owner of the vision. We might also see Williams lose his own passion for the enterprise.

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