Updated: Jun 13
In the wake of major shifts in leadership, structure, and strategy—including founder Jack Dorsey stepping down as CEO—Twitter is drawing on past experience to shape its future.
The company is embracing decentralization in several forms, including an "open protocol" that will allow users to communicate with those on other social media platforms; integrating blockchain and cryptocurrency; and allowing developers to create custom features.
The shift echoes a 2008 proposal by a Twitter employee, Blaine Cook, that was rejected at the time.
It also harkens back to the culture and idealism of Twitter's early years—and the early internet more broadly—with its focus on openness, energy, innovation, and what Dorsey has described as "weirdness" and a "punk" ethos that defined the early company.
In addition to re-energizing the company and its culture, Twitter hopes decentralizing will help it grapple with many of the challenges and controversies it has faced in recent years. Those include issues surrounding regulation, free speech, internal debates over the creation of new features, and how to design its algorithms.
Time will tell whether decentralization does, in fact, help Twitter face these challenges in the way it hopes.
But the company's approach to transformation underscores an important point: innovation does not happen in a vacuum, and is rarely created from scratch.
Instead, it often happens by marrying past and future: Revisiting past ideas and mindsets with fresh eyes—then repurposing them for the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Arielle Gorin is a Saybrook Senior Consultant. She is currently at work on a multigenerational family history and a research study for a leading tech firm. This post originally appeared on Saybrook's LinkedIn page.