Interview du CEO de Twitter, Evan Williams. A lire absolument.

Voici une interview passionnante du CEO et co-fondateur de Twitter, Evan Williams, à retrouver dans son intégralité dans Fortune.

Crée en 2006, Twitter a levé US$ 150 millions en capital risque et n’a pas de revenus significatifs. Voici la video de l’interview, suivie de quelques extraits sélectionnés, sur l’audience de Twitter qui n’est pas mesurable sur des critères traditionnels, sur l’absence de modele economique, sur le développement du produit, la différence entre blogging and twittering, les jeunes qui twittent peu, la culture de l’entreprise, l’impact pour les marques, la notion de broadcast “many to “many”, et son experience de CEO, passionnante pour les CEO de startups.

Can you rattle off how big Twitter is?

We don’t share user data or metrics. I can say it’s grown 15 times across all the relative metrics –especially in the early and mid part of this year. It’s grown a little bit slower lately, but we have some things in the works that we think will change that.

Sur l’absence de Modele Economique

And you can say we’ve been setting the wrong priorities. But when you think about building long-term value, generating cash isn’t exactly the highest priority. Twitter is a network. Ultimately, we’re spending almost all of our time creating the best products and the best technology for as many of our users possible.

Why has the growth slowed?

Most people have a general concept of what Twitter is. Yet it defies a simple explanation. ‘Microblogging site’ is the one that journalists use when they need something quick. So what do you think about that expression and if you don’t like that expression, what is the good shorthand for what Twitter is?

There’s almost no difference today between blogging and online publishing. They’re the same thing, essentially. Could something similar happen to Twitter?

I think Twitter is pretty different in a couple of ways. Blogging was more of a phenomenon, and Twitter is a single service. Certainly, there are other services like Twitter. And there will probably be many permutations.

Blogging got the concept of personal publishing, but it didn’t really take advantage of the network. None of the blogs were intricately linked together like Twitter users are. It was much more of form than a brand or service

Many of the ideas for Twitter came from your users. Can you talk about that a bit?

Some of the core concepts built into Twitter today, like the ability to link to users at user name syntax, retweets, hashtags — all of which the community invented. In each of those cases, we’ve embraced the idea and built it more into the product to make it more useful.

From the developer side, search itself — the ability to do real-time searches of tweets — came from an outside company called Summize that we actually acquired and brought in just over a year ago.

You tweeted something interesting recently, because it shows how companies are using Twitter. You had a bad customer experience about Dell (DELL, Fortune 500) and you tweeted about it. Did you get a response and secondly — most CEOs would be too cautious about calling out potential partners.

Well, I try not to be too cautious and try to act like a regular user. I had a bad experience. Consumers complain the easiest way possible. I think it was just a sort of gut reaction to express it that way. I don’t know if I got a response.

The conventional wisdom is that teenagers and children are not using Twitter — that it’s more of an adult thing. More teenagers are on Facebook. Do you have any data on that? And if it’s true, is that a problem?

I don’t have hard data on whether that’s true. Anecdotally, that is true. But anecdotally, we have seen that younger people have joined the service in the last few months.

My theory is it’s more or less a good thing for us. If I had to choose, I would rather have adults on the service than teenagers. The reason kind of makes sense if you think about what you care about. Twitter is not a social network. The emphasis is on information and finding out what’s happening among things you care about — work, industry, company, news. And it’s well known that teenagers are not really consumers of news.

What’s the culture of the company?

It’s always hard to define a culture of a company, but it’s something we think a lot about and try to maintain. We’re trying to build a healthy and fun culture.

My notion is that Twitter is a many-to-many broadcast network. The broadcast networks thrived for many years, right?

They still do in many forms. Something that [co-founder] Biz [Stone] has said before is that Twitter is a communication medium that you never knew you needed until you had it.

And once you have it, it’s a tool in your arsenal. You have your email, your IM, your SMS, and you have Twitter. For certain things, it just makes sense to turn to Twitter.

You’re kind of tweeners. It’s not your first time around your block. But at the same time, you’ve never run a 100-person company or anything close. So what are you doing to prep yourself for that experience? Do you intend to remain CEO for a while?

I intend to remain CEO for as long as I’m the best person to be CEO, which I hope is for a while. I’ve never run a company of this size. I think it’s really fortunate that I ran and started companies for 15 years. And learned a lot — mostly from horrible mistakes.

What’s one that comes in mind that you’ll try not to repeat?

Focus was always a big problem for me. In my first company, I looked back when I finally shut it down, and I started 32 different projects — one of which I completed. And it was always “this is a better idea than what I was doing.”

Are you succeeding at focusing better?

Yes. Yes, definitely succeeding. [But] it still crops [up]. The DNA of the company reflects that a bit. Twitter is a side project of my last company. Blogger was a project of my company before that. Focus is hard to maintain. But you also learn that sometimes you shouldn’t focus and look to the side. I’ve tried many things, but nothing that has worked this well and gotten this big.

The biggest thing I try to do is get people around me who have seen better and do better things. I have a great management team and a great investor team and a great board