Jack Dorsey, the billionaire co-founder of Twitter, has been spotted on a rare outing in New York City having launched a rival social media platform to challenge Elon Musk, despite taking a half-a-billion dollar hit to his net worth.
Dorsey, who has an estimated net worth of more than $4.2 billion, wore a casual ensemble of Birkenstock sandals and a grey tracksuit for the occasion, as he stepped out with a group of friends.
The sighting was a rare one, given the billionaire spends most of his time in California, where he owns a $22 million mansion. It comes as Dorsey prepares to launch a new social media platform to rival Twitter, of which he was the CEO until November 2021, before Musk took it over.
The tech mogul — who is also the founder of mobile payment company Square, rebranded as Block — became a billionaire in a matter of hours in November 2013, when Twitter went public and his net worth soared.
He is eccentric in the way that many billionaires are, with a penchant for one-meal-per-day fasts and frequent ice baths.
Dorsey was spotted on the same day that his net worth plummeted by more than half a billion dollars after short seller Hindenburg Research accused Block of skirting banking laws and “facilitating fraud”.
Dorsey’s net worth fell by 11 per cent, shaving $526 million from his name in 24 hours.
Block denied the allegations, calling the report “factually inaccurate and misleading”, and vowed to take legal action against Hindenburg.
Despite originally encouraging Musk to buy Twitter, Dorsey recently pitted himself against the world’s second richest man, saying last month “it all went south” and Musk “should have walked away” from the deal.
His new service — Bluesky, deliberately named to evoke an image of Twitter’s blue bird flying free — has attracted the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Chrissy Teigen as users.
It began as a Twitter side project in 2019, but was established as a stand-alone platform in 2022.
The venture is just one of a slew of social media platforms that are attempting to cash out on Twitter’s current struggles. It bears many similarities to Twitter, but differs in an important way — on Bluesky, content is moderated collectively by users, rather than by a group of staff.
Dorsey — who has apologised for Musk’s mass lay-offs, saying he “grew (Twitter’s) company size too quickly” — elaborated on the importance of collective user-controlled moderation in a blog post in December.
“The biggest mistake I made (at Twitter) was continuing to invest in building tools for us to manage the public conversation, versus building tools for the people using Twitter to easily manage it for themselves,” he wrote in the post.
“I generally think companies have become far too powerful, and that became completely clear to me with our suspension of Trump’s account. As I’ve said before, we did the right thing for the public company business at the time, but the wrong thing for the internet and society.”
The official launch of Bluesky will roughly coincide with that of another text-based social media platform by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, which is expected at some point this year.