Evan Williams is a Great Product Manager (That's Different From Being a Great Entrepreneur)

by Michael Camilleri

If you wanted to distract yourself from Japan or Libya, Twitter has thankfully obliged. In today’s episode of Tweets of Our Lives, Evan Williams blogged about his thoughts on leaving Twitter.

There’s something to be said for Williams’ talents as a programmer and, probably moreso, as a program manager. He’s helped found Blogger and Twitter. Those are two impressive pieces of software. I’m not a fan of Blogger but I use Twitter every day and it’s my favourite social network.

However, I’m frustrated by the sense that Williams is something of a great entrepreneur. There’s a difference between building a product and building a business. The talent to being an entrepreneur is not to make something popular by spending other people’s money (or even your own money) to give away free stuff without any significant income to offset that. The talent is making something popular and getting people to give you money for it. Unless you count Google and venture capitalists, Williams has yet to succeed at that.

So three cheers for Williams as a program manager. But Williams the entrepreneur? Maybe third time’s a charm.1

  1. Twitter is actually Williams’ third startup if you count Odeo. But let’s not.