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Facebook, Steve Ballmer, and Al Gore all tried to buy Twitter

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Twitter for iOS app icon
Twitter for iOS app icon

Nick Bilton's upcoming book on the history of Twitter has dug up a number of secrets about the platform, including Mark Zuckerberg's extensive attempts to buy the microblogging platform in 2009. According to an excerpt published in The New York Times Magazine, Steve Ballmer, Mark Zuckerberg and Al Gore all approached former CEO Ev Williams about a possible deal, although Zuckerberg went a step further, attempting to hire co-founder Jack Dorsey after he left the company.

"The greatest product Jack Dorsey ever made was Jack Dorsey."

The excerpt also reveals a bitter struggle over control of the company and credit as "founder" of the platform. Bilton sheds light on Noah Glass, a co-founder who made crucial early contributions to the platform before being surreptitiously pushed out by Jack Dorsey. Dorsey draws fire for his distracted management style, including taking classes at a local fashion school during his tenure as CEO. As Williams reportedly told him, "You can either be a dressmaker or the CEO of Twitter, but you can't be both." Within a year, Williams replaced Dorsey as CEO.

But through canny press relations and a keen understanding of the Silicon Valley mythos, Dorsey managed to cement his status as founder and ideological leader of Twitter, allowing him to regain power in the company after Williams lost favor with the board. In the upcoming IPO, Dorsey stands to make as much as half a billion dollars, while Glass has been written out almost entirely. As one employee told Bilton, "The greatest product Jack Dorsey ever made was Jack Dorsey."