Biz Stone is best known as the founder of Twitter, but things weren’t always so rosy for him:

My first startup, an online reviews site called Xanga, was struggling, and, tired of being broke in New York, I quit. My wife and I headed back to my hometown of Wellesley, Massachusetts, with tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt in tow. We moved into the basement of my mom’s house. I had no job. I tried to sell an old copy of Photoshop on eBay, but no one bought it.

Meanwhile Stone religiously kept a blog, and began to think of himself as an expert. On a whim he called Ev Williams who ran Blogger as part of Google and convinced him to bring him on. But even with Williams on his side, he had trouble getting the gig:

Larry and Sergey flat out said that he couldn’t hire me. Ev persisted. Finally, they begrudgingly agreed that Wayne Rosing—then Google’s senior VP of engineering—could talk to me on the phone. I waited nervously in my attic apartment. The phone rang, and as I reached for it something came over me. In that instant I decided to abandon all the failure I’d been carrying around. Instead, I would embody my alter ego.

It worked. Wayne told Larry and Sergey to hire me. Working at Google, my virtual and physical worlds collided: With the seemingly limitless resources, scientists, and secret projects, the place was practically Genius Labs.

Years later Williams and Stone would quit, leaving lots of pre-IPO money on the table to start their next project: Twitter.

  •!/azulum azulum

    Failure, like success, is a feedback loop. The only way out of a feedback loop is a break. Ev Williams going to bat for you is one monster of a break. I do agree that abandoning one’s sense of being a failure (in essence, not just changeable state — the ser rather than the estar) will do well to prevent signaling that you are a failure despite the failures, but you also need someone to have the opportunity to recognize that claim. And that is one damned sobering thought, especially for one who, heretofore, has done little but fail.

    A good friend is hard to find.

  • Shakirah Zain

    we can only connect the dots backwards as Steve Jobs said, but our path has certainly been written in the the form of a matrix of course.

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