Meet the founders behind the fast-rising Black Twitter alternative, Spill

Abu Mubarik July 04, 2023
Spill founders Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell (L) and DeVaris Brown (R) -- Photo: Spill

The social media space has not been the same ever since Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, took over Twitter. There has been rising concern about the safety of minorities on the platform, as well as minority staff at Twitter.

Data from Nielsen in 2018 shows that approximately 28 percent of Twitter’s 67 million users were Black people and 40 percent of African Americans are on Twitter.

This has resulted in some staff departing from the company to pursue alternative ventures. Others have also created a rival social network platform called Spill, often touted as a black Twitter alternative.

Spill was created by Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell and DeVaris Brown, who first met during an orientation on their first day working at Twitter. Their friendship was facilitated by the realization that they were the only two black guys in attendance.

Terrell served as Twitter’s global head of Social and Editorial until last month when he was laid off upon Elon Musk’s takeover. Brown, on the other hand, was a product manager lead at Twitter, working on machine learning, but left Twitter in 2020 to found Meroxa, a Series A startup that makes it easier for companies to build their data pipelines.

Although their friendship started because they were the only two blacks with the firm, starting a social media platform was the last thing on their minds. Today, however, the duo are the founders of a thriving social media firm called Spill.

The two started the company with a small team of fewer than 10 people, in addition to three advisors, including Dantley Davis, Twitter’s former design chief. In the past, rival Twitter firms have failed to survive, however, the founders of Spill say they are confident that they won’t fall into the same trap.

“You’ve got John McClane and MacGyver here!” Brown told Tech Crunch. “Phonz, on the content and social side, has run some of the largest and most successful campaigns in the world.”

At Twitter, Terrell’s team won a Webby Award for Best Overall Social Presence, and before that, he led social media marketing at HBO. “And then you have me, who literally has run some of the largest web-scale services, probably since the advent and popularization of cloud computing. This isn’t our first rodeo.”

Meanwhile, Spill will use blockchain technology to chart how posts go viral and compensate the creators behind them, TechCrunch reported.

“It’s not a web3 thing,” Terrell told TechCrunch. “But the use of blockchain is for both crediting creators and setting up a model for us to compensate them automatically. If they have a spill that goes viral and we monetize it, it’s really effective.”

Spill will also empowers black users. According to Terrell, creators will “absolutely get real cash” in U.S. dollars, not cryptocurrency.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: July 4, 2023


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