Anyone in Silicon Valley can tell the story of Steve Jobs’ exit from Apple and then his legendary return to the company he founded. It’s truly a remarkable story – and it just might be happening again. Over the past few weeks, Jack Dorsey has found himself in a truly unique opportunity to repeat history and be the next comeback king, the next Steve Jobs.
Dorsey, originally ousted by disagreements in senior leadership (not by John Sculley but Ev Williams) has finally returned to Twitter amidst reports that the company is in a downward spiral. But it gets better, as even the Michael Dell’s have come out saying that Twitter should sell to Google or Microsoft as it’s the only way the investors will ever see any money.
Dorsey has returned to set a vision for Twitter and it’s about time. When Jobs gave his first keynote as Interim CEO of Apple in 1997 at the Boston Macworld he had this to say of critics who claimed that Apple couldn’t execute, “Apple is executing wonderfully, on many of the wrong things. They are doing the wrong things because the plan is wrong.” Anybody even remotely following Twitter in the past year has seen that clearly Twitter’s plan is wrong. They screwed over developers, created the Dick Bar and have made absolutely no user improvements to the Twitter experience in the past six months. Dorsey, like Jobs, is back to return his company to its roots of innovation.
But Dorsey has another project to worry about too. He is the CEO of one of the fastest growing startup companies (Square) and has big dreams for its future. In his Golden Gate Bridge speech to the Square Team, Dorsey said that it is his goal for Square to carry every transaction in the world (no easy feat especially when one of the current top carriers of transactions calls your product a fraud magnet). The critics have lined up on this one saying that it is impossible for Dorsey to take on both of these tasks – recover Twitter and build out Square to a size of epic proportions.
But the critics are forgetting this has been done before.
While Steve Jobs was helping Apple recover, he too had a small side project (as the CEO of Pixar) which had just found massive success in the box office two years prior with Toy Story. Pixar’s defining moments were in the late ‘90s – they needed to prove that they were not just a one hit wonder studio and it was up to Jobs that this didn’t happen. A Bugs Life, slated for release in 1998 would be going head to head with Antz and shortly following Pixar would take on the daunting task of releasing its first sequel (Toy Story 2) – which in animation are almost always failures. In strikingly similar fashion, Square’s defining moments are just around the corner – the “make it or break it” point for the company is coming closer. And major questions still surround the company such as how it will survive (or thrive) with new technologies such as NFC.
Dorsey has the demeanor, work ethic, creativity and innovation required to take on these seemingly impossible tasks. He has placed himself in a situation in which he could repeat the iconic history of Steve Jobs. And to those critics who believe that his aspirations are too great must have forgotten that the people who are crazy enough to think think they can change the world are the ones who do.