Ev's Advice For Startups: "Do Something Awesome"


Twitter co-founder Evan Williams is on the Web video show Tekzilla in an interview conducted by Veronica Belmont on-stage last week at the Web 2.0 Expo. It was the same day that Biz Stone was in New York taping the Colbert Report. The best part of the interview is when Ev starts answering questions from the audience submitted via Twitter, which is where the clip starts above (you can watch the entire segment here).

The first question is what advice would he give to someone trying to build their own startup. His answer:

The core thing would be just do something awesome. Try not to get caught up in the echo chamber. That is probably the toughest thing when you are trying to break out and do something original.

A lot of things are evolutionary, and it is easy to get caught up on what the geek subculture thinks. There’s lots of valuable businesses that can be built there, but I think that is where a lot of people tend to spin their wheels, and I’ve been caught up there before. When I’ve had more successful things, I’ve thought, “Back to basics. What do I want? What do I want to see in the world?” And create that.

He is also asked what he thinks about Facebook’s Twitter-like redesign. “Did they redesign?” he jokes. Then he admits he is impressed and hints that some of the things Facebook did is on Twitter’s own design roadmap. (Maybe Facebook got some ideas from their acquisition discussions with Twitter which fell apart). One thing that Twitter plans to do better is make it easier to share videos and photos, perhaps with inline viewing. Now, that would be awesome. Williams says:

Yeah, I think we should support images and video better than we do today, it does not mean we should host them, maybe viewing inline. I don’t want to get into competition with Youtube. Twitter is lubricant for Web content.

And asked about a business model, he says Twitter will be experimenting with different approaches, but that for now it is still a “secondary” concern to building out the service. One thing Twitter won’t do: allow people to go beyond 140 characters.