Evan Williams (Internet entrepreneur)

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Evan Williams
Williams in 2014
Evan Clark Williams

(1972-03-31) March 31, 1972 (age 52)
OccupationInternet entrepreneur
Years active1993–present
Known forBlogger
SpouseSara Morishige Williams (divorced)

Evan "Ev" Clark Williams (born March 31, 1972) is an American billionaire technology entrepreneur.[1] He is a co-founder of Twitter, and was its CEO from 2008 to 2010, and a member of its board from 2007 to 2019.[2] He founded Blogger and Medium, two of the largest blogging internet platforms. In 2014, he co-founded the venture capital firm Obvious Ventures. As of February 2022, his net worth is estimated at US$2.1 billion.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Williams was born in Clarks, Nebraska, as the third child of Laurie Howe and Monte Williams.[3] He grew up on a farm in Clarks, where he assisted with crop irrigation during the summers. He attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for a year and a half, where he joined FarmHouse fraternity, then left the school to pursue his career.[4][5][6]


Early career[edit]

After departing from college, Williams took on various technology jobs and start-up firms in Key West, Florida, and in Dallas and Austin, Texas, before returning to his family farm in Nebraska. In 1996 Williams moved to Sebastopol, California in Sonoma County to work for the technology publishing company O'Reilly Media. He started at O'Reilly in a marketing position, later becoming an independent contractor writing computer code, which led to freelance opportunities with companies including Intel and Hewlett-Packard.[5] While working at O'Reilly, he also started a website called EvHead.com, where he first began blogging about his thoughts.[7]

Pyra Labs and Blogger[edit]

Williams at Webby Awards in 2001

Williams and Meg Hourihan co-founded Pyra Labs to make project management software. A note-taking feature spun off as Blogger, one of the first web applications for creating and managing weblogs.[8] Williams coined the term "blogger" and was instrumental in the popularization of the term "blog".[9] Pyra survived the departure of Hourihan and other employees, and was later acquired by Google on February 13, 2003.[10]

In 2003, Williams was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[11] In 2004, he was named one of PC Magazine's "People of the Year", along with Hourihan and Paul Bausch, for their work on Blogger.[12]

Odeo and Obvious Corporation[edit]

Williams at Web 2.0 Summit in 2005

Williams officially left Google on October 8, 2004,[13] to co-found Odeo, a podcast company.[14] In late 2006, Williams co-founded Obvious Corporation with Biz Stone and other former Odeo employees, to acquire all previous properties from Odeo's former backers.[15] In April 2007, Odeo was acquired by Sonic Mountain.[16]


Williams at TechCrunch50 in 2008

Among Obvious Corporation's projects was Twitter, a popular, free social networking and micro-blogging service. Twitter was spun out as a new company in April 2007, with Williams as co-founder, board member, and investor.[17] In October 2008, Williams became CEO of Twitter, succeeding Jack Dorsey, who became chairman of the board.[18]

By February 2009, Compete.com ranked Twitter the third most-used social network, based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits.[19] As of February 2013, Twitter had 200 million registered users.[20] It gets 300,000 new users a day and, as of August 2015, was ranked twelfth in the world. It receives more than 300 million unique visitors and more than five billion people in traffic a month. 75% of its traffic comes from outside of Twitter.com.

In October 2010, Williams stepped down from the CEO position, explaining that he would be "completely focused on product strategy," and appointed Dick Costolo as his replacement.[21]

Following the announcement of Twitter's initial public offering (IPO) in 2013, the company was valued at between US$14 billion and US$20 billion.[22]

On April 6, 2017, an article announced Williams would sell 30 percent of his stock in Twitter, for "personal reasons."[23]

In February 2019, Williams stepped down from his role as a board member of Twitter.[24]


Williams speaking at 2018 Web Summit

On September 25, 2012, Williams created the publishing platform Medium. Initially, it was available only to early adopters, but was opened to the public in 2013.[25]

On April 5, 2013, Williams and Stone announced that they would be unwinding Obvious Corporation as they focused on individual startups.[26]

On July 12, 2022, it was announced Williams would step down as Medium's CEO and become the chairman of the board.[27][28][29]

Obvious Ventures[edit]

In 2014, Williams co-founded the venture capital firm Obvious Ventures with James Joaquin and Vishal Vasishth. The firm is focused on companies they believe can make a positive change in the world.[30][31] Since its inception the fund has raised about $585 million—$123 million in its first round, $191 million in its second and $271 million in its latest round.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Williams lives in the San Francisco area. He has two children with his ex-wife Sara.[33][34] He is a vegetarian,[5] and has invested – through the Obvious Corporation – in a plant-based meat alternative, Beyond Meat.[35]


Williams has been quoted as having a philosophy that it is important to conserve time, do fewer things, and to avoid distractions.[36]

Williams speaking at XOXO Festival in 2013

Williams presented at the 2013 XOXO Festival in Portland, Oregon, and explained his understanding of Internet commerce.[37] During his XOXO session, Williams also likened the Internet to "a lot of other major technological revolutions that have taken place in the history of the world," such as agriculture, and asserted that the Internet is not a utopia.[37]

After President Donald Trump credited his election win to the use of Twitter, Evan Williams stated that if true, he was sorry.[38] He also said that the internet is "obviously broken because it rewards extremes".[38] Williams told the Associated Press that he was wrong to think that an open platform where people could speak freely would make the world a better place.[38] His musings about future business objectives include considerations about the effect of the Internet upon society.[39]


  1. ^ Jessica Guynn (October 3, 2013). "Twitter founder Evan Williams is now a billionaire (on paper)". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Forbes profile: Evan Williams". Forbes. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  3. ^ writer, Cole Epley / World-Herald staff (May 7, 2014). "Twitter co-founder Evan The success of Williams doesn't surprise those who knew him growing up in Nebraska". Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  4. ^ Williams, Evan (March 7, 2009). "For Twitter C.E.O., Well-Orchestrated Accidents". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c Malone, Michael S. (April 18, 2009). "The Twitter Revolution". The Wall Street Journal. p. A11. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  6. ^ "Twitter exec, Nebraska native Evan Williams at UNL 10 April". University of Nebraska–Lincoln. April 10, 2009.
  7. ^ "Ev Williams: Never underestimate your first idea | Masters of Scale podcast". WaitWhat. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  8. ^ McKinnon, Matthew (2001). "King of the blogs". MatthewMckinnon.ca. Retrieved June 18, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Baker, John (April 20, 2008). "Origins of "Blog" and "Blogger"". American Dialect Society Mailing List (Mailing list). Archived from the original on February 21, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  10. ^ Gillmor, Dan (February 15, 2003). "Google Buys Pyra: Blogging Goes Big-Time". SiliconValley.com. Archived from the original on March 24, 2003. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  11. ^ "2003 Young Innovators Under 35: Evan Williams, 31". Technology Review. 2003. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  12. ^ "People of the Year". PC Magazine. December 22, 2004. Archived from the original on August 19, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  13. ^ Festa, Paul (October 5, 2004). "Blogger founder leaves Google". CNET. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  14. ^ Carson, Nicholas (April 13, 2011). "The real history of Twitter"[permanent dead link], Business Insider
  15. ^ Malik, Om (October 25, 2006). "Odeo RIP, Hello Obvious Corp". GigaOm. Archived from the original on May 2, 2019. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  16. ^ Marshall, Matt (May 10, 2007). "SonicMountain acquires podcasting company Odeo, reportedly for more than $1M". VentureBeat. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  17. ^ Williams, Evan (April 16, 2007). "Twitter, Inc". Obviously. Obvious Corp. Archived from the original on July 29, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  18. ^ McCarthy, Caroline (October 16, 2008). "Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey steps down". CNET. Archived from the original on July 29, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  19. ^ Kazeniac, Andy (February 9, 2009). "Social Networks: Facebook Takes Over Top Spot, Twitter Climbs". Compete.com. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  20. ^ "Celebrating #Twitter7 - Twitter Blogs". Twitter. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  21. ^ MG Siegler (October 4, 2010). "Dick Costolo Takes Twitter CEO Role So Evan Williams Can Focus on Product". TechCrunch. AOL Inc. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  22. ^ Budhori, Dheeraj (October 7, 2020). "The Journey of Evan Williams". medium.com.
  23. ^ "Twitter co-founder Ev Williams is selling 30 percent of his stock for 'personal' reasons". Recode. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  24. ^ Gourani, Soulaima. "Why Board Members Decide To Step Down". Forbes. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  25. ^ "Twitter Co-Founders' New Site, Medium, Will Open to Public in New Year". All Things D. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  26. ^ "The Obvious Corp. Takes Backseat As Ev Williams, Biz Stone, And Jason Goldman Shift Focus To Individual Startups". TechCrunch. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  27. ^ Benjamin Mullin (July 12, 2022). "Evan Williams Is Stepping Down as C.E.O. of Medium". The New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2022.
  28. ^ Loizos, Connie (July 12, 2022). "Ev Williams calls it quits as CEO of Medium". TechCrunch. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  29. ^ Roston, Sandee (July 12, 2022). "Medium names technology and digital media veteran Tony Stubblebine CEO; founder Ev Williams transitions to Chairman of the Board". Medium. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  30. ^ Lawler, Ryan (December 8, 2014). "Ev Williams' Obvious Ventures Is A Fund For Investing In 'World-Positive' Startups". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  31. ^ Clifford, Catherine (December 8, 2014). "Twitter Co-Founder Launches 'World Positive' Investing Fund". Entrepreneur. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  32. ^ Bursztynsky, Jessica (January 14, 2020). "Twitter co-founder and early Beyond Meat investor raises third fund". CNBC. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  33. ^ Ryan Mac (October 3, 2013). "Twitter Cofounder Evan Williams A Billionaire After 12% Stake in Company Is Revealed". Forbes.com. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  34. ^ "Twitter co-founder Evan Williams sells Noe Valley home". Yahoo! Homes. Yahoo - Zillow Real Estate Network. August 22, 2013. Archived from the original on August 26, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  35. ^ Ariel Schwartz (June 12, 2012). "Biz Stone Explains Why Twitter's Co-Founders Are Betting Big on a Vegan Meat Startup". FastCompany. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  36. ^ Issie Lapowsky (February 2, 2013). "Evan Williams's Rule for Success: Do Less". Inc. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  37. ^ a b Ryan Tate (October 1, 2013). "Twitter founder reveals secret formula for getting rich online". Wired.co.uk. Condé Nast UK. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  38. ^ a b c "Twitter leader says he's 'sorry' for social media role in Trump's election". chicagotribune.com. Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  39. ^ Streitfeld, David, Internet Is Broken': @ev Is Trying to Salvage It, New York Times, May 20, 2017

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by Twitter CEO
Succeeded by