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How ownership of Twitter was initially divvied up

Reuters/Robert Galbraith
There was no roof deck in the early days.
  • Zachary M. Seward
By Zachary M. Seward

Editor-in-chief of Quartz

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Seven years after its founding, most of Twitter’s largest shareholders are investment firms that poured money into the company or acquired stakes from others. But it wasn’t always so.

In 2007, Twitter had surpassed 100,000 users, and its founders got serious about naming leadership and divvying up stakes in the company. Jack Dorsey became the first CEO. And according to Nick Bilton’s book Hatching Twitter, which hasn’t been released yet, this is how ownership of the startup was initially allocated:

Ev Williams got the largest portion because he had largely financed Twitter up to that point from his own pockets. His stake was diluted over time as the company took financing from venture capital firms. After he was ousted as CEO in 2010, Williams also sold some of his shares to Rizvi Traverse Management, a private equity firm.

As Twitter’s IPO approaches, Williams still owns 12% of the company, according to regulatory filings. (He will sell some of his shares in the IPO and end up with a 10.4% stake.) Dorsey owns 4.9% of the company (and will have 4.3% post-IPO). But for the most part, those who stand to gain the most from Twitter’s IPO weren’t there at the beginning.

Quartz obtained a copy of Bilton’s book ahead of its November 5 release. (That’s two days before Twitter is scheduled to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange.) It was excerpted earlier this month in the New York Times Magazine.

Correction (Oct. 29): Ev Williams was CEO of Twitter until October 2010. This article originally said he was ousted in 2009.

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