Twitter's Jack Dorsey to Developers: We're Sorry. Let's Start Over.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey took to the Twitter Flight 2015 mobile developer conference stage to kick-off the annual one-day San Francisco-based event with a massive apology to the developer community that it has alienated over the years and a promise to do better. 

Dorsey, who recently returned to Twitter's helm as CEO was clearly setting a new tone that his occupation of Twitter's corner office is going to mean not just a serious attitude adjustment for the company, but in some ways, a return to Twitter's roots and what has long made Twitter so special. Dorsey attempted to symbolize that return to its roots (when the company treated developers like royalty) by wearing the first Twitter t-shirt and saying what an honor it was to be in the physical presence of the more than 1500 developer attendees.

Dorsey also reflected on something that's nostalgic to almost every developer: Hello World. But to Dorsey "Hello World" isn't just the first app that developers build when starting with a new platform. It's core to what Twitter is about and to the role that its users and developers have played in taking Twitter into the social stratosphere.  "Hello World is the first thing we do when we want to learn to program," said Dorsey. "Twitter is one of the fastest ways to say something to the world and is the fastest way to see what the world is saying about any topic. Fundamentally, it's a simple messaging service. What's unique is how people made it their own, for the people by the people."  

Dorsey reminisced about how the ideas of hashtags, tweetstorms, and retweets came from folks outside of Twitter like Chris Messina, Marc Andreesen, and Tim O'Reilly. "People invented new ways to communicate [over Twitter]" said Dorsey. 

But in acknowledging the critical role that developers and users have played in turning Twitter into one of the world's top communication platforms, Dorsey also lamented the company's recent history of alienating the very community that's responsible for its success. "Somewhere along the line," said Dorsey, "our relationship with developers got complicated, confusing, unpredictable. It culminated with what Anil Dash called the Matrix of Doom."

And then came the apology.

"We want to apologize, reboot, have a great relationship with developers, open honest, and fulfilling." Reflecting on how the #blacklivesmatter hashtag bonded the world around an epidemic affliction of American society, Dorsey said "Twitter stands for something; for freedom of expression. We will not rest until that is recognized as global fundamental human right. Twitter encourages dialogue that the world needs to see and that the world needs to have and we need to have a better conversation with the developer community. We can't stand alone. We need your help.  We have a responsibility to you all to communicate our road map in clear and transparent way.....to have an open dialog to make sure we are serving you in the best way....and to power organizations to transparency ... We need to listen, to learn and we want to start that today."

Dorsey closed by creating an open communication channel between Twitter and anyone interested in helping the company to improve how it does business. "Tweet at us what you'd like us to see do today….  tweet with the hashtag #helloworld ….. and we will make the right decisions in the right way."

Notwithstanding how millions of 140 character suggestions will get bubbled up to the right Twitter executives for further contemplation, Dorsey's new-sheriff-in-town promise seemed quite sincere and to some extent, was backed up by a truckload of announcements designed to ease many of the challenges confronted by mobile developers. Those announcements included major improvements across Twitter's entire portfolio of development tools and were very much about addressing common developer pain points such as time to market for new applications, real time app diagnostics, application discovery, and in-app monetization (some of which will be covered in other articles being posted to ProgrammableWeb). To read about whether or not Twitter just set Fabric on course to be the iTunes of mobile SDKs, make sure to check out ProgrammableWeb's coverage of the issue. 

David Berlind is the editor-in-chief of ProgrammableWeb.com. You can reach him at david.berlind@programmableweb.com. Connect to David on Twitter at @dberlind or on LinkedIn, put him in a Google+ circle, or friend him on Facebook.

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