Must listen? Does anyone actually use that phrase?
Today, I came across an article on Techcrunch dated back to late March of this year, which summarized an interview Twitter co-founder Biz Stone had with radio host, Howard Stern. In it, much was focused on Biz and co-founder Evan Williams’ awkward meeting with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg back in fall of 2008. The purpose of that meeting focused on a possible acquisition opportunity by Facebook, with an initial proposal of $500 million.
Nothing transpired out of that meeting other than an interesting account to share about Zuckerberg’s personality. What was more fascinating to me after having listened to the 45-minute interview was Biz’s discussion about his personal life.
Prior to listening to the interview, my only knowledge of Biz Stone was that he was one of the co-founders of Twitter. Sure, I followed him on Twitter, but I would need to read his Wikipedia page if I ever hoped to write more than one paragraph about him.
Starting from the beginning, Biz described his professional background including his work at Google and later at Odeo, a podcasting directory service. Later, Howard Stern asked about how much Biz makes each year, at one point totally exasperated, he told Biz that he “looked like a filthy hippy!” Since Twitter was and still is a private company, Biz wouldn’t disclose this information but indicated that he was “making a perfectly good salary”. No surprise, given the company’s latest valuation of $8 billion, after reportedly raising $800 million from another round of funding.
During probably the most personal segment of the interview, Stern jokingly asked whether his success has directly affected his personal relationships. Namely, whether any family members approached him for money or to to obtain some stake in the company. Soon, the conversation leads to a discussion about his father. At an early age, Biz’s parents divorced, and as a result, Biz was taken care of by his mother for most of his life, having never built much of a relationship with his father. In one story, he recalls their most recent encounter about ten years ago, in which his father had to ask him who he was.
What struck me most was how relaxed Biz was as he spoke about his personal life, especially in regards with his father. Despite growing up poor, he was able to attend great public schools, excelled in school, paving the path towards starting one of the hottest Internet companies in the world. I don’t know of any startup founder as famous as Biz who has spoken so openly about his personal experiences, who never minced words or hesitated to share his feelings. Sure, Mark Zuckerberg’s tale of starting Facebook was made into a Oscar-winning Hollywood film, but one would struggle to accurately paint a detailed description of his personal life.
This is one of the best interviews I listened to in a while, and I highly recommend it to any aspiring entrepreneur.