Twitter Founder Evan Williams Talks About His VHS Mail-to-Order Business, Hard Times at Google, and Words of Wisdom


Digg founder and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose interviewed Blogger/Twitter/Medium founder Evan Williams in Medium’s San Francisco headquarters earlier this week for TechCrunch. Mr. Williams riffs on his start in a small Nebraska town, his first painfully-awkward efforts at starting a company, and throughout the interview, manages to come across as pretty down-to-earth while saying things like, ““Why can’t we use the Internet to actually do something better then ever existed before?”

Some interesting notes:

– Williams first Internet venture was a VHS mail-to-order video series, “How to Use the Internet,” in 1993

-Williams raised $500,000 for Blogger in the beginning of 2000, and ended up laying off his entire team shortly after the  market crash. He raised over $14,000 in donations from users to help buy servers, and had only hired six teammates to support a network of over 1 million blogs when the company was acquired by Google in 2003

-He regrets not trying harder to “learn that world” at Google, and says they never communicated the grand plan for Blogger. “Even I couldn’t make a credible argument why any particular engineer should go to Blogger,” instead of AdSense or Search, says Williams.

-Words of Wisdom: “You have to have a direction that you really want to explore, and you have to be willing to just be in some murky territory while going in that direction, and be prepared to invest, if you really want to do something different.”

-In helping build Twitter, he emphasized that, “When it comes to scaling, you have to get people with experience.”

Watch the full interview here.