Afternoon MoJoe   |  October 24, 2013

Twitter co-founder traces its evolution

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone joins Morning Joe to discuss his film "Evermore" and the origins of the social media platform that seemingly everyone consults by the second.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> nodded nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping. as if someone gently rapping, rapping at my door.

>> that was a clip from "ever more" a short film directed byron howard . now the movie's director, co-founder of twitter, biz stone .

>> i don't know. we'll have to see.

>> so how did we get from co-founder, all the companies in between, web start up genius to film director.

>> well there's a tiny connection between twitter and ron howard , about one year into twitter i said to my team we're getting media attention we don't want to grow up to be like a child actor who grew town a troubled adult. we want to be ron howard . years later i get this opportunity to work with ron and canon to do something they didn't know happened to be that was a dream of mine. always wanted to direct a film. i used ron howard in my speech to the team and then -- you know one of the things that's also super appealing to me about this whole thing. all fost tos were user submitted. i'm usually on the other side of that coin. and this is right up my alley. so they are all submitted and whittled down to ten and then another, you know, ten that i went by, constraint inspires creativity. that's what we were doing. we were choosing ten photos and of those ten photos we had to make a film proving the power of the still image in narrative story telling .

>> there's a little bit of poe , poe , "the raven."

>> it looked like a home made costume of a bird and i made that creative leap from that to someone who dressed up as baird. my film is about a littlereunites a broken family and does that by going on stage and reciting their favorite poem which happens to be a poe poem.

>> let's go back to twitter. you were one of the founders. i interview big entrepreneurs on coroner nbc. take me to the ah-ha moment where you guys found this secret sauce like just take us to that moment.

>> for me it was at the technology event in 2007 , march of 2007 in austin, texas. i heard about a guy who wanted to talk to his friends but the bar was too high. he sent out a tweet let's move to this other bar a few blocks down. it was an update at the time. and he sent out this one tweet and eight minutes it took him to walk to this other bar 800 people have done the same thing. what had happened is they had retweeted his tweet. they all thought it was a good idea so they flocked like birds to this bar and it occurred to me, it gave me chills it occurred to me there was no such technology that allowed humans to have the ability to flock like in some, like in the animal kingdom like fish and ants and birds. there was no technology for something like this for humans and yes this was a party but what if hit been a more dramatic event, what if it was a disaster or something at a higher level. that's what made me realize we were on to something much bigger than we originally had thought of.

>> it's incredible to me march in 2007 was only six years ago. twitter has become such a part of our lives. it's hard to remember life before twitter. is it crazy. is it exciting. we have twitter on. we have it on our phones using it all the time. does that blow your mind ?

>> it does. a friend of mine told me the other day how does it make you feel you can't look anywhere without seeing that little bird you drew or a hash tag or an app. things we thought at the time who is going to do this? this is just for us.

>> the strangest name to me at first and now it's part of our language.

>> it was like a joke so people were like let's make fun of it. wait a minute we're using it.

>> exactly. what were some of the biggest real challenges along the way as you were building twitter that almost perhaps even threw it off. there must have been some? i can think of some.

>> a lot of it there are similarities again coming back to this movie making theme. there's a lot of constraint that you have to deal with. and, you know, you have trouble with technology or constrained by certain technologies. and to me those constraints can be a source of creativity. when you're limited, when you pained yourself into a corner that's when you get most creative. so, you know, the limitations behind twitter ended up what grew it. so obviously one of the biggest problems for us was just not expecting success and having the technology constantly fail us. but in a weird turn of events that ended up being somewhat of a growth mechanism for us because everyone was making such a big deal about this service being down and how angry they were, people who didn't know about it the electricity was turned off i have to check it out. that's what drove it. that and just growing pains , you know growing from a six person company to thousands of people is tough in any scenario whether it's a start up or any other kind of company.

>> we talked about six years ago we didn't know about twitter. what about six years from now a guy who is on the forefront of social media . what will be in our lives every day. what are you guys working on that will change our lives again?

>> you know, there's what i think will happen. here's what i hope will happen. what i hope we built up to this point is truly connected society, more so than any in history and i think -- i think we've collectively built this connected society without sort of a long game in mind. we just tap that follow button because we want to see the pictures of our friend or see some old looking photos of what they did last night. but i think what we've built is a world of connectivity. there's one mobile device for every person on earth, same number. so we're the most connected society we've ever been. so that enables us to do a lot of things that we would not have otherwise been able to do. and the one thing that i think enables is it enables us to feel empathy for the other citizens of the world . and i hope something comes of that technologically.

>> when young people see something like you, on the one hand it's an incredible inspiration. everybody goes okay i'll make up an app and make a billion. on the other hand it concerns me because it's such an exception, it's one-in-a-million and i wonder if we're setting so many young people down a path where they think in five years i'm going to make the billion dollars where versus traditional paths of blocking and tackling. so you are an inspiration but i get worried about somebody like you as an example.

>> i agree with you. i like to remind people it takes ten years of constant failure and trying to become an overnight success. it's not like it just happened. it wasn't just one person. it took forever. i tried many times to do stuff like this before and failed and i think you're right. everybody wants to be the mark zuckerberg or next movie star and that's such a little percentage of the world. what i would like to see happen more is, you know, is a flourishing of more aspirational visions of the future from the future. people like bill gates , you know. even in television and in movies, i would like to see more aspirational tv shows . everything is all nightmarish. let's go back to the gene roddenberry days where mankind solved war and hunger.

>> i want to tweet and twerk at the same time.

>> oh, good god. let's end the conversation. willie we try relate with our guests off camera a little bit. i immediately liked him -- i asked him what time zone he was on and he said san francisco . oh, you must be so tired. he said i never feel good. we all connected.

>> amen to that. before i let you go real quick what do you make of what's happening with the white house with the website?

>> i think they should have made a clever, you know, i'm sorry our website is down error page here are the three main points of our program. done.

>> you build an error page and it's over.

>> good error page and it's over.

>> don't need a website.

>> take part in canon's project imagination, the first film festival inspired by user submitted photographs visit!.com. now is your chance to tweet the creator of twitter. send your kwez to biz using the #mojoe.