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Everything is impossible until it's not: March edition

A weekend project, a "Fail Whale", and a bidding auction over an NFT — we've got it all in this month's Everything is Impossible series.


Everything is impossible — until it isn’t. At Strike, we’re looking back on disruptive moments that changed the world. From technology that has shaped our lives to feats of human strength and resilience that were never thought possible, every month we’ll bring you a moment in history that changed everything.

What started as a side hustle — a project dreamt up by a group of friends in the evenings, after work, and at the weekends — became one of the biggest communication technologies of the past 100 years. This March we take a look at a moment that truly changed the world as we know it: the first ever tweet. 

On March 21st 2006, Jack Dorsey — Twitter’s CEO — took to the platform to tweet: “just setting up my twttr.” These five words introduced Twitter to our lives for the first time. The post has since earned over 121,600 retweets and likes... oh, and shaped our internet lives forever.

The "fail whale"

The origins of Twitter go back to a brainstorming session at the podcasting company Odeo. Initially, Dorsey wanted to set up an SMS-based communications platform where groups of friends could share short texts and status updates — like a form of texting, only slightly different.

Odeo’s co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone liked the idea and gave Dorsey the green light to develop it. From there, Twitter was born.

After Dorsey’s first tweet in March, Twitter was released to the public in July—and it went from strength to strength. Major success came at the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive conference, where more than 60,000 tweets were estimated to have been sent per day at the event – a huge increase in users for the company.

Most disruptive moments come with a fair amount of failure — and many of our best innovators learn to embrace it. In its formative days, Twitter’s user base grew at an astonishing rate – which often resulted in servers overloading and a series of technical difficulties. This led to the appearance of the now-famously dubbed “Fail Whale” on the error-page whenever there was a technical issue. This illustration, by artist Yiying Lu, was of a whale being lifted out of the water to safety by 8 birds, and it quickly went viral amongst the Twitter community. 

Now, Twitter has become a household name – with its popularity soaring over the years. According to latest reports, the company made a revenue of $1.56 billion in the final three months of 2021, it was also seeing 217 million daily active users — which is a 13% increase from the year before. 15 years on from its conception, it’s still growing. 

Today, it is estimated that Dorsey is worth $13 billion and his company’s world-wide popularity is undeniable. Not bad for an idea thought-up amongst a group of friends after work.  "

A bidding war

The origin of Twitter lives on — in another disruptive format. The tweet that started it all was sold by Dorsey back in March 2021, fetching just over $2.9 million.

The tweet was auctioned on the popular ‘Valuables’ platform in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT) – a kind of digital asset which can take the form of anything from a jpeg to a video clip.

According to Dorsey, all the proceeds from his NFT sale would be converted to bitcoin and then donated to the charity GiveDirectly – with Dorsey’s contribution going to support Africa’s Covid-19 response. 

There was a bidding war over the NFT between tech entrepreneur Justin Sun and Bridge Oracle CEO Sina Estavi. In the end, Estavi’s bid won – he also acquired the NFT of a recent tweet by CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk.

Estavi recently told CNBC Make It that: “[B]y bidding on Jack Dorsey's first tweet of history and Elon Musk's NFT, I wanted to emphasize the importance of NFTs on [the] future of crypto and tech sphere ... I wanted to encourage involving in charities in the crypto space."

Today, it is estimated that Dorsey is worth $13 billion and his company’s world-wide popularity is undeniable. Not bad for an idea thought-up amongst a group of friends after work.  

We're always looking to dream bigger and find ways to make the impossible possible. Next month, we'll be back with another moment that changed everything.