A new Silicon Valley buzzword was born yesterday, when Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said he would revive his disappointing social app, Jelly.
"For anyone who remembers Jelly, yes, we took a break but we're back 100%," he wrote. "Silicon Valley types might call this an 'un-pivot.'"
Some important context: "pivot," in tech startup circles, is a well-known code word for abandoning a failed project in favor of something new. This is a fairly common practice, and lots of things we love, like Twitter and Slack, started life as something completely different before a pivot to something better.
Stone, when he saw that people weren't using Jelly, pivoted away from the app to work on another app called Super.
An "un-pivot" — returning to that which was pivoted away from — is relatively unusual in tech, which is probably why Stone felt the need to coin a word for it.
But while "un-pivots" aren't the norm in tech, they have played a central role in some of the most important developments in human history. Here's a few of the great historic un-pivots that Stone and Jelly can perhaps take inspiration from.
1920: During Prohibition, the U.S. pivots into national sobriety, then unpivots back to national drunkenness 13 excruciating years later.
48 B.C.: Ancient Rome, after several centuries as a republic, un-pivoted back to a dictatorship.
2003: In one of the worst television arcs of all time, Rachel pivots to Joey, enraging the nation, before getting back with Ross.
14th century: The Italian Renaissance represented the beginning of a great un-pivot back to Classical art forms.
The sculpture of Ancient Greece was pretty rad. Then, art was less realistic in the Middle Ages. Finally, in a breathtaking un-pivot, Renaissance humanists rediscovered ancient techniques and ideas.
1559: Elizabeth I un-pivoted England back to Protestantism.
1994: Michael Jordan inexplicably pivots to a minor league baseball career. The inevitable, magnificent un-pivot soon followed.
1804: Napoleon un-pivoted France by becoming emperor.
Circa 33 A.D.: Jesus dies, then unpivots back to life.
William Alden is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. Alden covers the technology industry.
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