Evan Williams (Internet entrepreneur)
Evan Williams at XOXO Festival, September 2013
|Born||Evan Clark Williams
March 31, 1972
Clarks, Nebraska, United States
|Residence||San Francisco, California, US|
|Net worth||US $1.71 billion (December 2015)|
|Board member of||Twitter|
|Spouse(s)||Sara M. Williams|
Evan Clark Williams (born March 31, 1972) is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur who has founded several Internet companies. Williams was previously chairman and CEO of Twitter, one of the top ten websites on the Internet.
Early life and education
Williams was born in Clarks, Nebraska, as the third child of Laurie Howe and Monte Williams. 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, but eventually left to pursue his career.
After leaving school, Williams worked at various technology jobs and start-up firms in Florida, at Key West, and in Texas, at Dallas and Austin, 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, but eventually became an independent contractor writing computer code, which led to freelance opportunities with companies including Intel and Hewlett-Packard.
Pyra Labs and Blogger
Evan 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. Williams coined the term "blogger" and was instrumental in the popularization of the term "blog". Pyra survived the departure of Hourihan and other employees, and eventually, was acquired by Google on February 13, 2003.
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. 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.
Odeo and Obvious Corporation
Williams left Google in June 2004, to co-found Odeo, a podcast company. 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. In April 2007, Odeo was acquired by Sonic Mountain.
Among Obvious Corporation's projects was Twitter, a popular, free social networking and micro-blogging service. Twitter was spun out into a new company in April 2007, with Williams as co-founder, board member, and investor. In October 2008, Williams became CEO of Twitter, displacing Jack Dorsey who became chairman of the board.
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. As of February 2013, Twitter had 200 million registered users. 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 5 billion people in traffic a month. 75% of its traffic comes from outside of Twitter.com. On 4 October 2010, Williams stepped down from the CEO position, explaining "I’ll be completely focused on product strategy", and he appointed Dick Costolo as his replacement.
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. One media report anticipated that Williams, with a 30 to 35 percent stake in the company, would see his personal wealth grow from US$2 billion to US$8 billion in the wake of Twitter's stock flotation.
On April 5, 2013, Williams and Stone announced that they would be unwinding Obvious Corporation as they focused on individual startups.
XOXO Festival presentation
Williams presented at the 2013 XOXO Festival in Portland, Oregon, and explained his understanding of Internet commerce. 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.
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Future business plans
Despite having a net worth higher than USD $1B (generated from the acquisition or public offering of the companies mentioned above), and having a reputation for media business savvy, none of Williams' notable businesses has been profitable in conventional terms. After the election of Donald Trump, Evan Williams told the Associated Press that he no longer believes in Internet free speech, although he did not indicate the exact censorship formats he would propose. His musings about future business objectives also include considerations about the effect of the Internet upon society.
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- Marshall, Matt (10 May 2007). "SonicMountain acquires podcasting company Odeo, reportedly for more than $1M". VentureBeat. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
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- MG Siegler (4 October 2010). "Dick Costolo Takes Twitter CEO Role So Evan Williams Can Focus On Product". TechCrunch. AOL Inc. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- Hayley Peterson; Steve Nolan (12 September 2013). "Twitter co-founders stand to get a colossal payday as company takes first step toward going public amid predictions it will be valued at up to $20 billion". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- "Twitter Co-Founders' New Site, Medium, Will Open to Public in New Year". All Things D. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
- "The Obvious Corp. Takes Backseat As Ev Williams, Biz Stone, And Jason Goldman Shift Focus To Individual Startups". TechCrunch. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- Ryan Tate (1 October 2013). "Twitter founder reveals secret formula for getting rich online". Wired.co.uk. Condé Nast UK. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- Ryan Mac (3 October 2013). "Twitter Cofounder Evan Williams A Billionaire After 12% Stake In Company Is Revealed". Forbes.com. Forbes.com LLC™. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- "Twitter co-founder Evan Williams sells Noe Valley home". Yahoo! Homes. Yahoo - Zillow Real Estate Network. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- Robinson Myer (16 June 2016). "The Forrest Gump of the Internet". Retrieved 28 December 2016.
- Press, Associated. "Twitter leader says he's 'sorry' for social media role in Trump's election". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
- Streitfeld, David, Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It, New York Times, May 20, 2017
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