SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter, whose initial public offering of stock is set for today, is designed to open a window into the lives of people who muse about their activities, opinions and other things. The IPO price was set at $26 per share and the offering would raise $1.8 billion. Here are insights into some of the key figures in Twitter's creation and evolution into a communications hub set to pull off the biggest Internet IPO since Facebook went public nearly 18 months ago.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chairman
It's been an incredible turn of events for a former punk rocker who used to wear a nose ring. Dorsey, 36, is so impeccably groomed now that he is considered among the best-dressed men in technology. If you follow him on Twitter, you'll find he has an affinity for big cities, especially St. Louis, where he grew up. His fascination with dispatch systems for cabs, emergency services and bike messengers inspired the idea for a real-time communications system that morphed into Twitter. Precisely how his idea turned into Twitter is a matter of dispute. Whatever his role was, Dorsey has emerged as a Silicon Valley sensation as Twitter's chairman and as CEO of a mobile payment processor called Square. He is frequently touted as the next Steve Jobs, a comparison he hasn't tried to discourage.
Noah Glass, co-founder
Glass, 43, was one of Twitter's early architects and even came up with the name, according to a new book that rehashes the company's origins. But his early role has been glossed over through the years, and exactly what he did is also a matter of dispute. His name isn't mentioned in the regulatory filings for Twitter's public stock offering. Glass left San Francisco after his ouster from Twitter but returned to the city two years ago, according to his Twitter feed.
Evan Williams, co-founder
A former Nebraska farm boy, Williams, 41, has been variously described as deliberate, indecisive, taciturn, brilliant and even unscrupulous by those who believe he shoved aside Dorsey and Glass to consolidate his power. Williams emerged as Twitter's largest shareholder by seizing an opportunity that arose as his podcasting startup, Odeo, foundered. Odeo was formed in late 2004 with Glass, then Williams' neighbor. Williams replaced Dorsey as Twitter's CEO in October 2008 and then stepped aside himself two years later when he turned over the reins to Dick Costolo. Williams remains on Twitter's board. He is also trying to build another online communications service called Medium.
Biz Stone, co-founder
The self-described dork has a gift for gab that made him Twitter's most visible face while he worked the TV talk show circuit and handled most of the media during the company's early years. Stone, 39, moved from Boston to Silicon Valley a decade ago primarily to work at Google with Williams, whom Stone once hailed as "the only person to consistently help me get the most out of my own brain and abilities." Stone left Twitter in 2011 and is now working on a startup called Jelly Industries, which is believed to be working on a system that will answer questions posed on mobile devices.
Dick Costolo, CEO
It took a joker to turn Twitter into a serious business. Although Twitter still hasn't made any money, at least its revenue is rising at an impressive clip — something that couldn't be said until Costolo, 50, joined the company as chief operating officer in 2009. Within a year, the former standup comic from Chicago had replaced Evan Williams as CEO. When Costolo took charge in 2010, Twitter's revenue was $28 million. This year, it's on track to be more than $600 million. Yet Twitter's losses are also mounting, mainly because Costolo has been spending lots of money to prepare for what he hopes will be years of steady growth. When Costolo took over, Twitter had about 100 workers; now the company employs 2,300 people.