Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) operates the popular Twitter.com messaging platform, as well as mobile app Periscope, which allows users to broadcast live videos. Originally, Twitter developer Noah Glass created a service called Odeo, an early pioneer in podcasting that allowed users to call a phone number and convert voice messages into MP3 broadcasts on the internet. When Apple released the Apple Podcast App, investments in Odeo turned sour. Odeo chief executive officer (CEO) Evan Clark Williams bought back all the shares from investors for a speculated amount of $5 million and formed Twitter in 2006 with Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey.
Williams, Stone, and Dorsey tweaked the Odeo platform to allow users to text a message to a phone number that would be broadcast to all their friends simultaneously. Eventually, the name was changed from Odeo to Twitter in 2007, and the company was launched as a messaging platform through which users could broadcast 140-character messages to global audiences. The site has since grown from a user base of less than 5,000 in 2006 to 326 million monthly active users in October 2018. On October 25, 2018, Twitter released its Q3 earnings report. The social media company reported revenues of $758 million, roughly a 28% jump from $590 million over the same period last year.
Here are the top three individual shareholders of Twitter, as of October 25, 2018.
Evan Clark Williams
Evan Clark Williams is a board member of Twitter, the CEO of Medium and Obvious Corp., and the social media company's largest individual shareholder. Per an October 10, 2018 filing with the SEC, Williams owns 1.4 million shares directly and another combined 18.3 million shares indirectly through Obvious Corp. and a family trust. Williams joined Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) after his company Blogger.com was purchased for an undisclosed sum in 2003. Williams left Google a year later in 2004, after his investments in Odeo positioned him to become CEO of the fledgling company.
There is still a good deal of controversy surrounding Williams' purchasing of Odeo. Williams wrote a letter to shareholders expressing that the future of Odeo was bleak and offered to repurchase all the shares back from investors. Doing so allowed Williams to turn Odeo into Twitter, but it is still uncertain whether Williams intentionally overstated Odeo's outlook so that he could swoop up all the company's assets and form Twitter.
Jack Dorsey is the co-founder and CEO of both Twitter and Square Inc. (NYSE: SQ). According to Dorsey's most recent filing with the SEC on April 28, 2017, he is the second-largest individual owner of Twitter with 16.6 million shares.
Dorsey was part of the Odeo design team and arguably the brainchild behind the original Twitter platform. Dorsey built a simple site that allowed users to broadcast short text messages to all their friends. Dorsey first became the CEO of Twitter in March 2006 but was replaced by co-founder Evan Williams in October 2008, when Dorsey became chairman of the board. Dorsey co-founded credit card and electronic payment processor Square in 2009.
Peter H. Fenton
Peter Fenton is a general partner of Benchmark Capital and served on the Board of Directors at Twitter between 2009 and 2016, at which point he did not seek reelection. According to Fenton's last filing with the SEC on May 25, 2016, the former director owns 21,165 shares directly and a combined 3.7 million shares indirectly through Benchmark Capital and a family trust.
Fenton is one of six partners at Benchmark Capital who acquired a 6.6% stake in Twitter during a Series C funding round in 2009, at a $25 billion valuation. Fenton is also an investor in Zendesk (NYSE: ZEN), Yelp Inc. (NASDAQ: YELP) and Hortonworks Inc. (NYSE: HDP).