Blogger, Twitter, and Medium are well-known platforms. If not all of them, you must have used at least one of them. All of these platforms are popular among people from various demographics, but they all have one thing in common. That’s Ev Williams, co-founder of all three
He also founded Obvious Ventures, a venture capital firm. And these platforms have given millions of bloggers like me, as well as billions of others, a platform to express their ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
And guess what? Almost all of these businesses were small when he first joined, but they have since grown to be billion-dollar enterprises. It can’t be a coincidence, can it?
Ev Williams is now a self-made billionaire who began in poverty. Here’s the story of Ev Williams, a ‘Tech Entrepreneurial Genius’ known for turning small businesses into large ones.
Evan “Ev” Clark Williams was the third child to be born to Laurie Howe and Monte Williams in Clarks, Nebraska. He was raised on a farm in Clarks where he spent the summers helping with crop irrigation.
He joined the FarmHouse fraternity while spending a year and a half at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Ev, however, dropped out. He was more interested in starting his own business than he was in getting a formal education.
He even relocated to the Bay Area to be in the epicenter of technological advancement.
Ev Williams, who was looking for a better job opportunity, wound up working with a few startup businesses with locations across Florida, Texas, and Austin. Later, he relocated to Sebastopol, California, to join O’Reilly Media’s marketing team.
While working at O’Reilly, he moved to the company’s coding department. He learned the necessary skills and created a personal blog website, EvHead.com. He eventually quit his job to work as a freelance coder. He worked as a freelancer for companies such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard.
Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan founded Pyra Labs, which assisted employees in tracking their workflows. It was a hit with the employees. This inspired Ev to make it more widely available. This company, which is now well-known as Blogger, was founded in 1999. The ‘Blogging’ is credited to Ev.
Blogger was quickly accepted and used by a large number of people. Its massive popularity eventually drew the attention of many large corporations. The race was eventually won by the all-powerful Google. They purchased Blogger in 2003.
Blogger was founded with the straightforward goal of giving users a user-friendly platform for journaling. Within four years of its debut, both its subscriber base and the interest of several tech goliaths increased exponentially
In 2003, Google paid millions of dollars to acquire Blogger (along with Pyra), and with that money, Twitter was founded.
Following Blogger, Ev started working with Noah Glass on Odeo, a podcasting company. Odeo was born as a result of Noah’s idea and Ev’s funding. Although Odeo was a good idea, Apple’s iTunes was a much stronger rival with a much larger target audience, and it quickly overtook Odeo.
[Two years after Ev founded Obvious Venters with Biz Stone, which eventually funded Twitter.]
Because Odeo was not very successful, the founders were looking for a solution until they met Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone. They all liked Jack’s idea of a microblogging site. The four-person team began working on it and Noah named it Twitter.
Twitter was not particularly successful in its early years, and it took a long time for it to become successful. However, in 2007, as part of a large tech conference, they set up huge plasma screens displaying live Twitter streams.
Twitter usage tripled from 20k to 60k tweets at that time. It was a smashing success. They even received an award for the best start-up that year. Twitter’s success, however, cannot be attributed to a single team member because all four put in the same amount of effort.
When Twitter began to grow sporadically, it necessitated strong leadership to manage such a large workforce — formalizing the company structure.
Because Ev had personally funded Twitter, he retained 70% of the stock ownership, while Jack was appointed CEO and retained 20%.
In October 2008, he succeeded Jack Dorsey as CEO of Twitter. Investors were dissatisfied with Jack’s management because he was not entirely focused on Twitter. While the business was having a lot of financial difficulties, he was taking fashion design classes.
Twitter’s popularity and success skyrocketed during his tenure as CEO. As per Compete.com, Twitter was the third most popular social network in 2009. Twitter had 6 million monthly unique visitors and 55 million monthly visits.
However, the CEO position was up for grabs, and he and Jack Dorsey competed for it. Because Ev is an introvert, he has been chastised for making poor executive decisions, such as failing to communicate with the board on a regular and sufficient basis, failing to act quickly to purchase TweetDeck (a third-party service), and failing to perform several daily tasks as CEO.
After much political maneuvering, Ev resigned as Twitter’s CEO. There, he was still president. However, when he realized that his ideas were not being taken seriously at the top, he decided to leave the company.
In 2012, Ev Williams founded Medium, a publishing platform. It was initially only available to a few people, but it was made public in 2013. The goal of Medium’s creation was to offer carefully chosen content that would appeal to its readers.
Ev was questioned about whether readers would pay to read random articles written by regular people like you and me in an interview with Business Insider. Yes, he replied; the fact that the medium has expanded naturally, with more readers, writers, stories, and visitors each month, is evidence of the system’s growth and potential.
Ev Williams is also a co-founder of Obvious Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in start-ups that focus on sustainable systems, healthy living, and people’s power.
This is clear evidence of his value in developing solutions to some of the world’s most difficult problems, including climate change, health care, and education. In an interview, he even stated that he intends to launch a new “holding company/research lab” that will be beneficial to Medium and other companies.
The way ordinary leaders do things distinguishes them from great leaders. Some people are born natural leaders, possessing all of the characteristics of a great leader. Ev’s journey demonstrates that everyone begins somewhere.
IDEATION — Ev claims that simplifying routine tasks, as he did with Blogger, is the key to creating a successful business idea.
He asserts that the secret to creating a billion-dollar internet company is to start with a human desire, preferably one that has existed for a very long time. Identify that desire and implement steps using modern technology.
Take, for example, Uber. How old is the desire to get from one place to another? How difficult was it to complete? In that process, some steps were eliminated. They established contact between you and the driver.
Ev’s philosophy may appear banal. But that’s exactly the point. Twenty years after people began using the internet in large numbers, it’s time, according to Ev, to accept that the internet isn’t a magical universe with limitless potential. It’s just another engine for bettering people’s lives.
HUSTLE — When you keep hustling, you come across ideas that no one else has considered. Twitter, Blogger, and Medium were all concepts before they were born. Ideas motivate creators to create meaningful products that customers value.
Even if you live on a farm or in Silicon Valley, if you don’t hustle, your success may be jeopardized. The power struggle is real. Despite all of the obstacles, Ev has never given up. Ev has a $1.8 billion net worth, the majority of which comes from his Twitter stock holdings.
With this much money, he could easily have retired. But he didn’t; he founded Medium because creation brings him more joy than money. Entrepreneurs like Ev stand out because they launch new tech platforms, strategize, improve the lives of millions of people, and build something bigger than themselves.
LEADERSHIP -– According to Ev, the biggest mistake leaders make is taking a bossy stance, confident that their subordinates will handle everything. That attitude is a recipe for disaster because it produces no results.
Leaders understand that their employees are their most valuable asset and their biggest fans. Great leaders should instill trust in their followers. They are the people who work behind the scenes while the leader is recognized for success.
According to Evan, the best way to get people to open up to you is to create a trusting environment. Trust is best developed by showing that you are on the same level as a team rather than taking a bossy attitude.
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