Twitter executive speaks to future entrepreneurs

By Colby Sears

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

University of Massachusetts alumnus Wayne Chang never graduated college, yet Twitter acquired his company in a deal estimated to be worth over $250 million.

On Sunday, Chang returned to his alma mater to share just how he did it.

Co-founder of Crashlytics and now a Twitter executive, Chang spoke at the Integrative Learning Center about his time as a UMass student and his successes after dropping out.

Chang has been involved in a number of successful startups, including Napster and Dropbox. He developed i2hub, a peer-to-peer file-sharing program designed for college students, while still at UMass.

The award-winning Crashlytics, a kit that sends crash reports to app developers, was Twitter’s largest acquisition at the time. Chang discussed the back-and-forth negotiations between the Twitter team and his own, before finally settling the deal in December 2012.

According to Chang, Twitter first offered him a “very large number” for his creation, though he knew Crashlytics was worth more. He co-founded the Cambridge-based company with Jeff Seibert in February 2011, when crash analysis tools did not yet exist.

As a UMass student, Chang lived in Lewis Hall in the Northeast Residential Area. He partnered with the Winklevoss twins to form the Winklevoss Chang Group – a joint effort between i2hub and the Winklevoss’ ConnectU website. The group displayed advertisements for the two sites on local PVTA buses.

Chang told the audience of about 100 at the ILC that successful entrepreneurship relies on relationships, saying his company engineers emotions rather than solutions.

“Relationships actually trump any feature you can deliver,” he said in regards to building customer connections. Emotions like satisfaction and surprise are extremely important, he said, and act as powerful tools in the company-customer relationship.

Chang provided a number of tips to hopeful entrepreneurs, using the Crashlytics website presentation and unique marketing techniques as examples of good business strategies. He also said that college students must pursue something they are truly interested in and should value their own passions more than the profits they will make.

The talk included a question-answer session with the audience in which Chang answered both personal and professional questions.

When asked about how he likes to spend his time, he said, “What motivates me is giving back. … Being here, this gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

It was Chang’s first time being back on the UMass campus in about 10 years.

The event was presented by the Isenberg School of Management’s Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship and the UMass Entrepreneurship Club, with catering by UMass Dining.

Colby Sears can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colbysears.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Chang said he values the emotions of his engineers. He did not comment on the emotions of the company’s engineers. It has since been corrected above.