Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey has changed his tune quite a bit since this time last year, when he seemed to fully endorse the sale of the company to fellow billionaire Elon Musk. And it may not be coincidental that his long-talked-about, open-source Twitter alternative Bluesky just launched in beta.
It's interesting to hear Dorsey, who was pretty gung-ho about Musk's taekover bid last spring, now saying that the Twitter board shouldn't have "forced the sale" last year and "It all went south."
This was in response to a user's question last week on Bluesky, the new, very Twitter-esque social platform that Dorsey first talked about in late 2019 and that launched in beta two months ago. (We mentioned Dorsey's latest comments in Sunday morning's links.)
Among the things Dorsey said, in response to a question about whether Musk is the right person to be leading Twitter, were "No. Nor do I think he acted right after realizing his timing was bad," and, "I think he should have walked away and paid the $1b," referring to the $1 billion penalty Musk would have paid for abandoning the deal after making his offer, which he clearly wanted to do after thinking it through/seeing the numbers. He added, "But it happened and all we can do now is build something to avoid that ever happening again."
As CNN reports, Dorsey seemed to anticipate criticism that he and the board had been responsible for the company's financial woes — Musk has insisted it was weeks away from bankruptcy when he took over.
Dorsey said, referring to the board he served on for six months after resigned as CEO, "we did everything to avert" the company's financial failure, but he says, "The company would have never survived as a public company."
"If Elon or anyone else wanted to buy the company, all they had to do was name a price that the board felt was better than the company could do independently," Dorsey says. "Was I optimistic? Yes. Did I have final say? No."
Dorsey suggests that "hedge funds and Wall Street activists" could have done their own takeover, but who knows how that would have turned out.
Last spring, Dorsey notably said of Musk, "Elon is the singular solution I trust," and "I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness." But, as he said in that same tweet, on April 25, 2022, "In principle, I don’t believe anyone should own or run Twitter. It wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company."
That appears to be where his head was at with the creation of Project Bluesky, a blockchain-based, open-sourced version of Twitter that he launched while still working at Twitter. The project was led by longtime CTO Parag Agrawal, who became Twitter's CEO with Dorsey's blessing on his departure in November 2021.
As The Verge reported at the time, Dorsey's announcement was met with some eyerolls in Silicon Valley, especially from the creators of the open-source Mastodon — which in recent months has gained new attention as an alternative to Twitter.
However, Bluesky may be generating more buzz in recent weeks than Mastodon ever did, growing quickly as it launched in beta for iOS, and then last week for Android.
New York Magazine caught the buzz, saying that Bluesky is "the most straightforward among" among the Twitter alternatives to date.
"It looks like Twitter five years ago. It feels like Twitter ten years ago. New users are piling in, joking around, breaking things, and occasionally being terrible to each other in a familiar environment where it also feels like nothing matters much, yet," writes John Herrman for NY Mag.
And many Twitter addicts online personalities have clamored to get invites to Bluesky, with the likes of Chrissy Teigen and AOC both joining last week.
According to the company's website, Bluesky is hiring — if modestly, with a couple of engineering roles listed to fill. And Dorsey clearly hopes to be the savior here, recreating the magic of early Twitter, without the Nazis and clearly without Elon, all while the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world are kissing Trump's ass on Truth Social.
Where Bluesky will get its money going forward is not clear — back in October, The Verge wondered aloud if Musk would keep funding it, but it seems the answer must have been no. Project Bluesky got $13 million from Twitter a year ago, but it was established as a public benefit LLC, and it seems to be all Dorsey's baby.
Following the Android launch last week, Bluesky announced that it just had its "biggest single-day jump in new users," doubling its user base in one day on Thursday.
Top image: Jack Dorsey creator, co-founder, and Chairman of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square arrives on stage at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention, a crypto-currency conference held at the Mana Convention Center in Wynwood on June 04, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)