When you think of Twitter’s creator, you probably think of Jack Dorsey. However, it is not the entire tale. Twitter would very certainly not exist without a man called Evan Williams. Evan Williams developed the idea for what is soon to become Elon Musk’s newest toy.
Here’s a little Twitter history that most people are unaware of:
Evan Williams joined Google after selling his firm, Blogger, to the search giant in 2003. After a few years, he became bored, so in early 2006, Evan and a Google coworker named Biz Stone joined together with Evan’s neighbor, Noah Glass, to establish Odeo, a podcasting service.
Jack Dorsey recognized Evan as the inventor of Blogger when he saw him in a coffee shop one day. On a whim, Jack sent Evan an email asking if he needed a decent coder for whatever project he was working on next. That’s how Jack ended up working at Odeo. Odeo never really took off, so Evan began looking for a new idea to pivot to. Evan asked all of his Odeo staff if they had any great technological ideas. Dorsey revealed a project he’d been working on called “Status.” People would be able to send messages on a public website using Status. Yada yada yada, that evolved into twttr, then Twitter, a name picked by Noah Glass.
Evan, Jack, Noah, and Biz then returned to Odeo’s investors all of the money Odeo had left in the bank. Then they purchased all of Odeo’s assets via a newly formed LLC called Obvious Corporation. Twitter was formed as a separate corporation in April 2007, and Evan appointed Jack as CEO. Jack served as CEO for nearly a year until the board forced his resignation. Evan Williams took over as CEO at that point. Evan Williams left two years later, and Dick Costolo took over as CEO. Dick oversaw Twitter’s successful IPO in 2013. Dick served as CEO until June 2015, when Jack Dorsey rode back into town and was re-appointed. Jack will keep going until November 2021, when Parag Agrawal, who used to be Twitter’s CTO, will take over.
Parag received $30.4 million in remuneration as CEO, the majority of which was in the form of Twitter stock awards. Perhaps more crucially, he negotiated what was most likely a completely needless contract point pertaining to Twitter’s ownership position. More on this shortly.
Elon Musk flipped Parag’s whole life upside down after only three months as CEO. As you probably know, Elon Musk started making big moves toward Twitter in March 2020. He first invested in the company and then asked that it be bought outright.
On April 25, 2022, Parag and the board agreed to Elon’s $44 billion offer. Parag had only been on the job for around five months. Let’s fast ahead…
After months of back-and-forth, Elon ultimately decided to accept the same offer he made in April on October 4, 2022.
Parag had a difficult time throughout those months. It’s safe to assume that Parag and Elon aren’t friends (and this was confirmed via their text messages that were recently made public). It would not be unexpected if Elon dismissed Parag on the first day after the purchase closed.
And it would be fantastic news for Mr. Agrawal!
According to that part of Parag’s employment contract, if Twitter ever changes hands and the new owner fires Parag within the first year, Twitter must pay him… $42 million dollars.
If that occurred, Parag would have earned around $75 million during his 10-month tenure as CEO. If you can obtain it and are willing to walk through hell every day for approximately six months, it’s not a horrible job.