Power Players

Jack Dorsey reveals his big Twitter regret

Jack Dorsey, chief executive officer of Twitter Inc. and Square Inc., speaks during an Empowering Entrepreneurs events at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
Bloomberg | Getty Images

Self-made billionaire Jack Dorsey has enjoyed success of epic proportions since founding social networking giant Twitter in 2006.

But if he could go back to that time and build the business again, there are some things he would do differently, the 42-year-old CEO said Tuesday.

Speaking at TED 2019 in Vancouver, Canada, Dorsey lamented on the recent backlash against the company over its failure to properly moderate harassment and extremist behavior. He said that he and his team had prioritized the wrong things in the early days.

"One of the choices we made in the early days was, we had this number that showed how many people follow you," Dorsey told audiences during a live conversation with TED curators Chris Anderson and Whitney Pennington.

"We decided that number should be big and bold, and anything that's on the page that's big and bold has importance, and those are the things that you want to drive."

If I had to start the service again, I would not emphasize the 'follower' count as much. I would not emphasize the 'like' count as much.
Jack Dorsey
founder and CEO of Twitter

"Was that the right decision at the time? Probably not," said Dorsey, who is also founder of fintech company Square.

"If I had to start the service again, I would not emphasize the 'follower' count as much. I would not emphasize the 'like' count as much," he continued.

Dorsey went as far as to say that he probably would not create a "like" function at all.

"It doesn't actually push what we believe now to be the most important thing," he said, "which is healthy contribution back to the network and conversation to the network."

Dorsey has been at pains to rebuild Twitter's status — and share price — following a series of scandals over its treatment of user data, hate speech, political campaigning and mental health issues. Twitter's shares rose over 17% Tuesday after the firm reported a rising number of users and higher revenues.

Going forward, the CEO said the company would be reconsidering how the site displays likes, followers and retweets.

"Those are not things that we thought of 13 years ago, and we believe are extremely important right now," Dorsey noted.

"(We have to) ask the deep question: Is this really the number that we want people to drive up? … I don't believe that's the case right now," he said.

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