Tag Archives: biz stone

State of The Obvious Corporation: 2013



Recently news came out that Obvious partner Biz Stone is starting a new company called Jelly. What is Jelly? Biz is planning to share more of that soon. I can tell you I’m super excited about the idea and think Biz and the rockstar team he’s putting together are going to kill it.

In related news, Medium — the main internal project of Obvious for the last few months — is now operating as its own company. We have 30 people focused on many big ideas for the site you’re reading now. Personally, I’m spending about 98% of my time on it.

Our third Obvious co-founder, Jason Goldman, relocated to New York City last year to spend most of his time working with Obvious partner company, Branch, which incubated in our office early last year. (Medium has a New York office that now shares space with them.)

What does this mean for The Obvious Corporation?

Turns out, we like focus. We rebooted Obvious in 2011 with a vague plan. We started investing, incubating, and experimenting to figure out what worked and what we wanted to do at this stage in our careers; we just knew we wanted to work together on stuff that mattered.

Among other things, the first few months taught us that we gravitated toward diving in more deeply on a small number of things — rather than having a lighter touch on many ventures.

That said, the collaboration between Biz, Jason, and myself — which we call “Obvious” — continues. This happens in several ways. For one, we have shared interest in each of the big projects we’re currently focused on and call on each other for help. Secondly, we have a portfolio of companies we’re very proud of and continue to help out however we can. So, besides Medium, Branch, and Jelly, we have working relationships with Lift (of which I’m on the board), Beyond Meat and GoodFit (of which Biz is on the board) and Neighborland. We also have a handful of less-active partnerships with entrepreneurs we were lucky enough to angel invest in, like Findery, LaunchPad Toys, and Faraday Bikes. (There are a couple more, which we’ll announce when the time is right.)

In the latter cases, Obvious is simply the vehicle through which we co-invest in entrepreneurs that share our worldview. We plug them into our greater network and increase the chance of being helpful by pooling our resources. As far as hands-on work goes, while Biz and I have our hands full, Jason is actively looking for another company he can (silently) partner with in New York.

More than anything, as Biz likes to say, Obvious is a philosophy. It’s a philosophy that has held us together as partners — and friends — through many years and, now, has launched a new chapter and new set of ventures which will be stronger through association.

As we announced almost two years ago when we started Obvious (the second time), our aim is to build systems that help people work together to make the world better.

That’s the thread that ties it all together.

Written by

Biz Stone’s Jelly Raises Series B Led By Greylock, And Josh Elman Joins The Board

Next Story

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has raised a Series B round of investment led by Greylock Partners, with Spark Capital participating. The raise comes just under a year after it raised a Series A round from Spark, Jack Dorsey and Greylock, via its Discovery Fund.

The app — essentially a human-powered discovery and search parsing engine driven by images — launched early this month.

“Jelly is a small team with modest capital requirements and we intend to keep things that way while growing a global service that changes how we find answers,” said Stone today. “This partnership with Greylock means more time to focus on improving Jelly along with some talented and helpful folks on our Board of Directors.”

There’s no word about what the numbers involved were here, but the investment comes on the heels of rumors that Greylock could be participating in a $20M raise for blogging platform Medium, from Stone’s Twitter co-founder Ev Williams. There were no numbers announced at the time of Jelly’s Series A, but we’ve heard a number in the range of $10M tossed around for that round.

TechCrunch spoke to Greylock Partner Josh Elman, who will join Jelly’s board with this round as well. Elman was previously a product manager at Twitter where he worked with Stone. Elman shared an anecdote with us about his early experiences testing the app.

“As I played with the product during the early days, I had a few experiences that had me thankful I had Jelly. Someone on Jelly helped me realize I had a leak in my shower based on a spot on my siding 20 feet below. I was able to help others with planning trips and shopping for the perfect new monitor,” he detailed in a post today. “My favorite was when my daughter asked me repeatedly to find an Angry Birds level with “a ding dong and a box”.  Several hours later, after much searching and whining, the perfect answer came in on Jelly that helped me be her hero…”

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 1.54.26 PM

Other investors in Jelly include Bono (yes), Evan Williams and Jason GoldmanAl Gore,  director Greg Yaitanes and entrepreneur Roya Mahboob. Spark General Partner Bijan Sabet is already serving on Jelly’s board.


Facebook Premium

Now that I use Facebook more regularly, I started having some ideas for the service—here’s one.


Everybody thinks because I’m one of “the Twitter guys” that I must be good at using all social media. The truth is, if I can’t figure an app out in a minute, I usually move on to something else. Too many settings and options frustrate and confuse me. I like making simple stuff because I enjoy simple stuff.

When Facebook first came out, I signed up as soon as I could. Then I made the mistake of heedlessly accepting every incoming request until my account was so busy I couldn’t keep up. On top of that, Facebook added thousands of settings, features, and choices. Whenever I tried to get back into it, I became overwhelmed.

However, now that some former Facebook employees work with me at my new startup, Jelly, I’m using Facebook. Camille actually leaned over my shoulder and helped me go through every setting to simplify my Facebook experience on iPhone. Now I’m keeping up with friends and family on Facebook like a billion other people.

People love Facebook. They really love it. My mother-in-law looks hypnotized when she decides to put in some Facebook time. In general, the ads on Facebook don’t seem particularly useful or engaging. However, ads on the service are universally tolerated because that’s what makes Facebook free and free is nice.

Image representing Biz Stone as depicted in Cr...
Image by None via CrunchBase

Anywhoo, now that I’m using it and thinking about it, I’ve got an idea for Facebook. They could offer Facebook Premium. For $10 a month, people who really love Facebook (and can afford it), could see no ads. Maybe some special features too. If 10% percent of Facebook signed up, that’s $1B a month in revenue. Not too shabby.

It’s a different type of company, but by way of validation, have a look at Pandora’s 1Q14 financial results. Of all Pandora’s revenue generators, the highest growth year-over-year by far (114% growth rate) is in subscriptions—people paying a monthly fee for an ad-free experience. So there you have it. “Fuck yeah.” Right?

View story at Medium.com



Biz Stone Introduces His Jelly Co-Founder And CTO, Fluther’s Ben Finkel

As we reported a few weeks ago, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone is up to something new, and it’s called Jelly. Not much is known about it other than it’s a mobile-focused project. Stone shared a little bit more about the project today, introducing Ben Finkel as his co-founder.


The two have something in common, time spent at Twitter, as Finkel was a co-founder of Fluther, a social Q&A site that the company acquired in 2010.

Finkel will also serve as CTO of Jelly, according to the post by Stone:

Fluther was aquired by Twitter after I stepped away from my day-to-day role at the company so we didn’t get a chance to work together on the tweets, so to speak. Ben managed New User Experience on the Growth Team at Twitter, helping grow an active user base from fifty million to more than two hundred million people.

Ben will serve as Jelly’s CTO, focusing on shipping fantastic products, attracting world class engineers, and in general, running a tight technical ship. We’re putting together a core “dream team” at the moment. Next, we’ll be heads-down on developing Jelly—the idea that we couldn’t get out of our heads.

Whatever Jelly is, Stone is definitely stacking up the talent over there. It sounds like a service for doing some good in the world, as suggested in early April. Since Stone calls Jelly an idea that the two “couldn’t get out of our heads,” it sounds like it has promise.


Many have been waiting to see what Stone would do next, with his Twitter co-founders having settled into their “next big things” quite nicely. Of course, Jack Dorsey is the CEO of payment processing service Square and Ev Williams is leading efforts in the same role at next-gen publishing platform Medium. Stone’s project has the spotlight on it, if only to see if it reaches the levels that the others have.

(VIA. Tech Crunch)

Obvious Corp. structure, say Medium now operates independently

Obvious, the company that came from Twitter co-founders and launched companies like Blogger and Twitter, is back in full force. The founders explained that the biggest venture, Medium, will now be operating independently.


Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams re-launched the Obvious Corporation in June 2011, bringing back the umbrella organization from which they’ve launched startups like Blogger and Twitter. On Friday, Williams explained in an update how Obvious is currently structured and operating, as well as what’s up with Medium, the group’s most prominent current venture.

Medium is the publishing platform that came out of Obvious. It has been recently growing and hiring staff, and it will now operate as an independent business from Obvious. Williams wrote that he is spending about 98 percent of his time working on Medium, which is adding an editorial-minded staff and encouraging a wide variety of writers to publish posts on the site.

Meanwhile, Biz Stone will be working on his recently-announced mobile platform called Jelly, and Jason Goldman, who was profiled exenstively by Buzzfeed recently, will be working on Branch, another publishing platform.

Williams wrote how they’re currently viewing Obvious in the blog post Friday:

“Turns out, we like focus. We rebooted Obvious in 2011 with a vague plan. We started investing, incubating, and experimenting to figure out what worked and what we wanted to do at this stage in our careers; we just knew we wanted to work together do stuff that mattered.

Among other things, the first few months taught us that we gravitated toward diving in more deeply on a small number of things — rather than having a lighter touch on many ventures.”

(VIA. Gigaom)