Jack Dorsey’s impractical double duty

Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared on

Can we finally stop pretending someone can run two companies if they just work hard enough or are brilliant enough?

I’m looking at you, Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Twitter investor Peter Fenton and everyone else who spent years arguing that it was totally doable. In various interviews and private conversations throughout 2011, people close to Twitter consistently maintained it was no big deal that Dorsey could build Square – one of the single most ambitious, capital- and execution-heavy startups of our day – and run product at Twitter – a company that was woefully behind on any meaningful product innovation and desperately needed a visionary leader.

You know what they all said whenever anyone asked whether this was sustainable. And you know it even if you’ve never heard it firsthand. “Well, Steve Jobs did it.”

If there’s one phrase that’s more annoying than “What would Steve Jobs do?” it’s, “Well, Steve Jobs did it.” But here’s the reality: Steve Jobs barely did it, and he was Steve Jobs.

It’s widely acknowledged that Jobs was not nearly as involved in the day-to-day operations of Pixar as he was at Apple. And Walter Isaacson wrote in his biography of Jobs about the toll of filling both positions, saying that Jobs believed his health issues started when he was running both companies. The other example people bring up is Elon Musk, who runs both SpaceX and Tesla. But Musk too has said for years it’s not an ideal situation and is “way past the fun part.” Neither Musk nor Jobs – two of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time – have said it was remotely sustainable.

Hear RIM’s new CEO. Then speak your mind.

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For many BlackBerry users and smartphone industry pundits, this Youtube video was their first close-up look at new Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins.

RIM, which announced Heins’ elevation and the resignations of co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis on Sunday night, no doubt posted the clip in hopes of introducing the world to their new frontman, and getting their message out there.

Judging by the torrent of biting comments that followed, being “on track” might not have been the best message to relay. Many investors and consumers have been calling for a new strategy to stem the BlackBerry’s market share slide.

Maybe Carol Bartz should teach

Why not? With free time on her hands Carol Bartz should consider teaching high school math and science. Seriously. (Not in elementary school – the whole potty mouth thing won’t last there for long, and Bartz wouldn’t be Bartz without her salty swagger. But teenagers would love it.)

Now that she’s been ousted from her role as Yahoo’s CEO, I think the confessed math nerd should let her geek flag fly and inspire young people toward her favorite subject. And for girls in particular (and their parents), she has message: Stick to your guns.

About a year ago I asked Bartz if math was integral to her ascendancy to the CEO posts at Autodesk and Yahoo. Beyond my job a tech reporter, my reasons were selfish: my teen daughter has the math bug. I wanted to know if Bartz felt a well-used TI-83 graphing calculator was a vital weapon to carry if one aspired to business success.

An open letter to CEOs: Why so Twitter averse?

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Dear CEO of [Your Name Here]: Why aren’t you on Twitter?

In retrospect, I have come to understand your relative lack of interest in blogging, when blogging was the thing to do. It’s time consuming. It’s easy to overthink (and underthink). A blog requires readers to find you, and return — embarrassing if they don’t. You always have to feed the beast (darn you, pesky time stamps).

All this changed with the advent of Twitter, a haiku melting pot where you don’t have to be more pithy or verbose than you might be when making polite conversation at a cocktail party that nobody minds you crashed, and the right name or title or station virtually guarantees a large following (even if nobody is actually paying attention to anything you say).

But you don’t seem to be participating in micro-blogging any more than you participated in blogging. Oh sure, lots of companies hire social media marketing experts — you probably signed off on that without even realizing it.