Things I Learned Working on the Twitter Platform

I was lucky enough to spend the last four years of my life working with an incredible team of people on the Twitter Platform. I joined Twitter in June of 2009, shortly after Alex Payne had launched and built the early community around the Twitter API. While my role initially entailed product and engineering management, I spent all four years focused on building an ecosystem of companies that created value for our users and our partners and that’s where I’ll focus these posts. It was my first time doing anything like it and I learned an incredible amount through trial and error. There were failures, triumphs, and great lessons learned along the way.

I have worked with a number of other startups, either while at Twitter or in the months after, talking about some of the things we learned during my time there. I thought it would be useful to type it up for the sake of posterity and hopefully others find some value in the topics.

By no means is this meant to be a bible that should be followed without thinking how it applies to your particular situation and strategy. Market forces, competition, and technologies change quickly and are unique to each business. Each company needs to  think through what is right for them and their unique situation. Done correctly, having a platform can be one of the most strategically powerful things a company can do to build a durable, lasting business.

Giving advice is much easier than deploying it. I’ll be the first to admit that we weren’t able to successfully implement a lot of the lessons here, but hopefully they are still valuable. This isn’t meant to be an analysis or tell-all about Twitter’s platform. Instead, these are broad lessons that I learned through our own actions or through observing how other platforms operated.

Lastly, platforms are highly complex and there are a number of people much smarter than I that think about and work on them every day. I plan to write up and post more lessons over time, so consider this a living document. If you’re interested in this topic, feel free to ping me on Twitter at @rsarver to ask questions and suggest topics that you would like to see me cover.


  1. What is a Platform?
  2. Trust & Predictability
  3. The Mythical Roadmap
  4. The Three-Legged Stool of Value Exchange
  5. Being Mayor and the Law of Unintended Consequences
  6. Lighthouse Integrations
  7. Single-Player Dependency
  8. The Carrot and the Stick
  9. Messaging and the Rule of Seven
  10. Invest Your Time Wisely

10 thoughts on “Things I Learned Working on the Twitter Platform

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience, what you have done on twitter is so far unique when it comes to creating true eco-system build on any social platform!

    Looking forward to your thoughts on “Single-Player Dependency”!

  2. Pingback: What is a Platform? Thoughts from Ryan Sarver

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