Twitter Forms Team to Shape the Future of Decentralized Social Media

The new unit, Twitter Crypto, will explore how the company can support the growing interest among creators to use decentralized apps.


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key takeaways

  • Tess Rinearson, former vice president of engineering at Interchain GmbH, to lead the unit
  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had previously labeled crypto as one of three major trends most relevant to the social media company and its shareholders

Twitter is forming a team focused on crypto, blockchains, and other decentralized technologies after the social media company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, has said the cryptocurrency would be a significant part of Twitter’s growth.  

Tess Rinearson announced on the platform that she would be joining the company to lead the unit. She most recently worked as vice president of engineering at Interchain GmbH, a company responsible for stewarding infrastructure for blockchain ecosystems, according to her LinkedIn profile. Specifically, Interchain maintains core components of the Cosmos ecosystem: Tendermint, IBC and the Cosmos Hub.

Rinearson also serves as a board member for the Mina Foundation, the non-profit steward of the Mina Protocol, as well as a council member for the Switzerland-based Interchain Foundation, which distributed Cosmos’ ATOM tokens.

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“As I build out the team, we’ll be working to figure out what crypto can do for Twitter, as well as what Twitter can do for crypto,” Rinearson explained in a Twitter post Wednesday morning.

“Twitter truly ‘gets’ crypto (hello bitcoin tipping & NFTs!) but there’s so much more to explore here.”

The company announced its intention to launch its tipping feature, called Tips, in September. It allows users to send bitcoin to people through the Lightning network, a layer-2 payment protocol known for its low transaction fees.

The new team will first explore how the company can support the growing interest among creators to use decentralized apps to manage virtual good and currencies, Rinearson explained in a Twitter thread. Longer-term focuses include looking into how ideas from crypto communities can help Twitter “push the boundaries” related to identity, community and ownership. 

Twitter will also work closely with the bluesky team to help shape the future of decentralized social media. Dorsey had announced in December 2019 that Twitter was funding a small independent team of up to five open-source architects, engineers, and designers, known as bluesky, to develop “an open and decentralized standard for social media.” He tapped developer Jay Graber in August to lead the bluesky initiative.

“Twitter Crypto will underpin all of this work, and serve as a ‘center of excellence’ for all things blockchain at Twitter,” Rinearson added in a separate tweet Tuesday, noting that the team would be looking to fill roles in engineering and product.

The formation of the crypto team follows Dorsey labeling bitcoin as one of three major trends most relevant to the social media company and its shareholders during the company’s earnings call in July.

“I think this is a big part of our future,” Dorsey said of utilizing bitcoin at the time. “There’s a lot of innovation above just currency to be had, especially as we think about decentralizing social media more and providing more economic incentive, so I think it’s hugely important to Twitter and to Twitter shareholders that we continue to look at the space and invest aggressively in it.”

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