Christopher Isaac Biz Stone
Christopher Isaac Biz Stone's Social Links
Christopher Isaac Stone, better known as Biz Stone, was born March 10, 1974. He grew up in Wellesley, MA. His parents were divorced and his father mostly absent, his mother often struggling to make ends meet. After graduating from Wellesley High School, Stone briefly attended University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University, where he studied art. During his university studies, Stone supported himself by stacking boxes for publisher Little, Brown and Co. One day, while the art director was at lunch, Stone got on his computer and designed a book cover. His bold move paid off; the cover was accepted for publication, and Stone was offered a position at the company. He decided to give up his scholarship and discontinue his studies to take the position, viewing it as an opportunity to, as he put it, “essentially apprentice with a master.”
In 1999, when Stone was working as a designer, he was approached by some friends interested in starting a web company. The result was the blogging platform Xanga. In 2002, when Xanga’s company culture started to shift away from Stone’s original vision, he left, moving with his wife, Livia, into the basement of his mother’s Wellesley, MA home. Not sure what his next step would be, Stone started a blog titled “Biz Stone, Genius,” a title inspired by a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. In his posts, he spun tales about the fictitious Genius Labs, where he built incredible inventions with a top-notch scientific team and access to endless resources. His blog was hosted on the then brand new platform Blogger, which he was test-driving thanks to his friendship with Pyra founder Evan Williams.
By 2003, Stone had found work as a “web specialist” at Wellesley College, and he and his wife had moved into a small apartment near the campus. When Google acquired Blogger that year, Stone e-mailed Williams with the suggestion that he could be a valuable member of his team. As it happened, Williams was looking for someone who understood social media as people, not just technology, and he pulled strings to get Stone an interview with Google. Channeling the confidence of his Genius Lab’s alter-ego, Stone talked his way into a position as a Senior Specialist and Blogger.
Williams and Stone left Google in 2005 to start the podcasting start-up Odeo. They soon realized, however, that despite the strength of their concept, neither of them was interested in the world of podcasting. They formed a new company, Obvious Corporation, which they used to buy Odeo and free themselves for new endeavors. The resulting new startup was microblogging site Twitter. The site launched in June 2006. By 2013, it was valued at more than $30 billion.
In spring of 2013, Stone revealed his newest start-up, Jelly, a community-fueled Q&A app that uses social networking-type principles to help users find the answers they seek. The app came out of stealth mode in January 2014.
Though he’s come a long way from his credit-card debt filled start, Biz Stone lives a simple life. He writes in his book, Things A Little Bird Told Me, that he and his wife’s “version of buying a Lamborghini and owning a giant house is that we give away a lot of money to help others.” They are the founders and directors of The Biz and Livia Stone Foundation, whose philanthropic efforts include educational programs, environmental and conservation causes, and animal welfare organizations (Stone himself is a vegan.)
In addition to Things A Little Bird Told Me, Stone is the author of two books on blogging, Blogging: Genius Strategies for Instant Web Content and Who Let The Blogs Out?
Biz Stone lives in Marin County, California with his wife, Livia, and their son Jacob, born in late 2011.
Companies and Investments
Jelly HQ (Founder), Medium (Co-Founder), Twitter (Co-Founder), Xanga (Creative Director), Odeo (Founder), Obvious Corp. (Founder and Chief Creative Officer), Google (Senior Specialist and Blogger), Little, Brown and Company (Designer)
Branch (Advisor), Fluther (Advisor), DonorsChoose.org (Board of Advisors), Spark Capital (Strategic Advisor)
Intercom (Investor), Message Bus (Investor), Square (Investor)
Be emotionally invested in whatever you’re doing: As Stone himself once put it, “The death blow to Odeo really was that we didn’t even like podcasting. We didn’t like listening to podcasts. We didn’t like making podcasts. We were really shy in front of the microphone… The problem was we didn’t even like our own project. It pitched really well. It was very sexy but we didn’t use it. This is when I learned a really valuable lesson.” If you enjoy making and using your own product, nothing anybody says will dissuade you from investing energy in making it bloom. Loving what you’re doing, Stone says, “ends up shining through the branding and communication, and that rubs off on people. It’s infectious enthusiasm.”
Be open to unexpected turns in the road: Putting yourself on a rigid trajectory won’t do you any favors, especially when unexpected opportunities arise. Stone had two years of university studies left when he was offered a job at Little, Brown and Co. He had expected to be an artist – he took the job and became an accidental technologist. Later on his path became that of a businessman. If he had put blinders on to opportunities outside his intended path in the arts, he never would have ended up where he is now.
Stability is overrated: Success means taking risks. It often means giving up financial security to throw yourself into a project you’re passionate about. Stone’s journey is full of financial risk. He struggled with credit card debt for years. He joined Google before the IPO, so when he left Google to start Odeo, he left lots of valuable shares behind. Odeo became Twitter, which Mark Zuckerberg offered to buy for $500 million in 2008. Turning down that offer was a financial gamble that paid off; Twitter was worth over $30 billion by 2013. Any huge success could also end up an equally huge failure - but you have to be willing to risk to get the reward.
|“||Perhaps the history of the errors of mankind, all things considered, is more valuable and interesting than that of their discoveries.||”|
Christopher Isaac Biz Stone's Quotes
|“||Leadership can be defined as good communication plus confidence without ego.||”|
|“||If I had one piece of advice to tell an entrepreneur, I always say, ‘You have to have emotional investment in what you’re working on.’ That’s what we lacked at Odeo. If you use your own product and giggle when you’re making and using your own product, then the whole world saying it’s dumb just rolls off of you, because you’re loving what you’re doing. And that ends up shining through the branding and communication, and that rubs off on people. It’s infectious enthusiasm.||”|
|“||When I studied graphic design, I learned a valuable lesson: Theres no perfect answer to the puzzle, and creativity is a renewable resource.||”|
|“||By simply announcing himself as a genius on his business card, Wile E. Coyote epitomized the spirit of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. When you’re starting a company, you sometimes have nothing more than an idea. You have to begin somewhere, so you declare yourself an entrepreneur just like Wile E. declared himself a genius. Then you make a business card and give yourself the title “Founder and CEO.”||”|
|“||Were adding a new layer of ambition for our team and that is that we want to have a positive global impact. We want to make a very successful business on top of this, and we want to have a lot of fun and enjoy our work and do meaningful work along the way.||”|
Evan Williams, Steve Snider