Like Mark Zuckerberg before him, it looks as though Twitter co-founder Evan Williams may have made some enemies on the way to the top. A bombshell from Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson alleges that Williams both elbowed out a co-founder and ticked off some early investors by downplaying Twitter's success. A similar allegation about downplaying success was filed in the most recent lawsuit against Zuckerberg. Williams has yet to respond with his side of the story, but according to interviews with initial investors and employees, despite "receiving a certain amount of equity," one Noah Glass got a raw deal.
Twitter's official foundation myth is that at a failing podcasting start-up named Odeo (made obsolete by iTunes), Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Jack Dorsey decided to create what would eventually become Twitter. Odeo's investors weren't into the idea, so Evan (or Ev, as he's called) thoughtfully bought back their stock. That version of events leaves out the role of Noah Glass. He claims not only to have come up with the original name (Twttr), but also to have at one point housed the entire service on his IBM Thinkpad: "It was right there on my desk. I could just pick it up and take it anywhere in the world." Glass had plans and papers filed to spin off Twitter into its own company, which, according to Glass, is the reason he was fired.
Around the same time, Ev sent out this letter to Odeo's investors making Twitter sound like a bad investment, and eventually offering to buy back their stock:
By the way, Twitter (http://twitter.com), which you may have read about, is one of the pieces of value that I see in Odeo, but it's much too early to tell what's there. Almost two months after launch, Twitter has less than 5,000 registered users. I will continue to invest in Twitter, but it's hard to say it justifies the venture investment Odeo certainly holds -- especially since that investment was for a different market altogether.
Every origin myth smooths out some rough edges. And there's a big difference between being bitter and being defrauded. Regardless, we think Glass, whose Twitter bio reads "i started this," is going about this all wrong. When you have a PR bombshell lying around for years, you don't give a Q&A to Business Insider. You allow yourself to become the primary source for a tell-all book with Hollywood producers already lined up in wait. We like to call it the Eduardo Saverin Strategy.