Twitter co-founder Biz Stone visited the CONAN show last night to celebrate the service’s much balyhooed fifth birthday. Conan O’Brien, who found great success on Twitter himself as @conanobrien, began the conversation by referring to the site’s early days, reminding Stone that the now-lauded company was once severely criticized about its apparent uselessness.
Stone replied, “Everybody said ‘Twitter’s useless.’ To which my co-founder Evan Williams said, ‘Well so’s Ice Cream, you want us to ban Ice Cream and all joy?’ We said, ‘Screw that. We’ll just keep working on it.’”
Stone also brought up the fact that people referred to the site as “The Seinfeld of the Internet” in its early days, because it was “a website about nothing” where nothing of substance ever happened. Stone said he took the somewhat humorous designation as a compliment, “I love Seinfeld.” To which O’Brien responded, “And that show is very profitable …” Har.
Jokes aside, in the past half decade Twitter as a platform has evolved beyond a repository for banal tweets like Stone’s “Celebrating the deliciousness of tomatoes” and “Wow, Amtrack serves a vegan burger” to a hub of communication for hundreds of millions around the world.
Twitter now averages over 140 million tweets per day and many of them have been pretty notable, including ones contributing to the toppling of dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, highlighting announcements like the resignation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and revealing stories of human triumph like the snow rescue tweets of Cory Booker.
Even O’Brien himself was cowed by the Twitter effect, “It’s huge for me. A year ago when I found myself without a television show and banned from doing a lot of things, it was the one thing that we were allowed to do… It changed my life.”