Last night, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone cleverly turned a week of bad press into an opportunity to tweak the nose of the media—and the media loved it! On Thursday evening, Stone took to his personal blog to weigh in on a longer than 3,000-word Fortune cover story titled "Trouble @Twitter" that provoked a lot of chatter about the company's tenuous business model. Rather than go on defense, Stone actually egged on his critics in the tech press.

"What took so long for somebody to write the article that says we are falling apart?" he wrote. "Twitter has had so many ups and downs you'd think we would have had more negative press." He then lampooned the fickle cycle of tech coverage in a way that was both light-hearted and pretty much spot-on:

Here are some examples of how this works. After mostly positive coverage of Facebook, Fortune finally published an article in April of 2009 titled, "Is Facebook Losing Its Glow?" However, later that year they published, "What Backlash? Facebook Is Growing Like Mad." Google received similar treatment. In July 2010 Fortune published, "Google, The Search Party Is Over." Later that year, they published, "Google Continues To Gain Search Marketshare."

We've had lots of positive press from Fortune in the past. In July of 2010 they published an article titled, "Twitter's Business Model: A Visionary Experiment." The article ended with, "Facebook might want to take notes."

 
"A Stone-cold win for Mr. Biz-boa!" cheered All Things D's Kara Swisher. Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider said Stone responded "cleverly." Marketing Pilgrim's Andy Beal says Stone has mastered "one of the irrefutable rules of reputation management... in the absence of any official statement by a company, rumor and conjecture will rule your reputation." He chronicles Stone's post like a boxing match:  "First, Stone undermines Fortune’s credibility with some examples of its previous sensationalistic writing...Then, we see his act of defiance... Lastly, we learn that Twitter is ready to go on the offensive."
 
Stone didn't manage to flatter everyone, however. Shea Bennett at All Twitter ("The Unofficial Twitter Resource") is a notable standout:

Aside from the tone of Fortune’s essay, Biz doesn’t actually address any of their (numerous) points head-on. Yes, the press does like to build things up and knock them down, but let’s be fair: Twitter has given them a lot of reasons in the past year or so, including:

  • Underwhelming promotional ad platform
  • Fundamentally ill-advised Dickbar
  • Turning on developers
  • Being overly cagey and protective with user data