July 14, 2015

Innovator of the Month: Chris Messina

A cartoon tag shows the Twitter logo with the text "#hashtag" underneath.  A photo of Chris Messina smiles next to it.
Courtesy of blog.hubspider.com

By Lauren C.

Who is Chris Messina?

Chris Messina is a former Google designer and also the inventor of the ubiquitous Twitter hashtag. He is well-known for helping to create the BarCamp, or user-generated conferences focused around technology, as well as promoting the spread of Firefox. Prior to working with Google, he was employed as an open source advocate at a company called Vidoop, and was also a co-founder of a marketing agency called Citizen Agency.

Moreover, Messina is famous for sending out an infamous tweet that inspired a generation of people to write #blessed on their Twitter accounts. In 2007, Messina sent this out: “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp (msg)?” The purpose was to categorize tweets so users could search for keywords and find information pertaining to specific topics.

Fun Facts about the History of the Hashtag

Hashtags first caught on during the devastating wildfires in October 2007, with the hashtag #sandiegofire.

Twitter officially embraced the hashtag in July 2009-by automatically linking anything that had a # before it.

Messina pitched hashtags to Twitter executives in 2007, and the team said they were too “nerdy” and would never take off. Messina himself stated, “In the beginning, people really hated them! People didn’t understand why we needed hashtags, and the biggest complaint was that people just didn’t like how they looked.”

Chris Messina never patented the hashtag, which prevented him from licensing them to Twitter and making a huge sum of money. He claimed, “I had no interest in making money (directly) off hashtags. They are born of the Internet, and should be owned by no one.”

Why Chris Messina Will Go Down in History

Messina revolutionized social media, especially pertaining to Twitter. However, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media entities also have information that is organized through the use of hashtags. Though Twitter may have initially deemed the hashtag too “nerdy” for the general public, they have clearly been proven wrong.

Messina also is well-known for being an open source advocate, or an advocate for open and free use of technology platforms, such as software like Firefox. His influence has assisted those around the world have greater access to the abundance of information available on the Internet.


  1. The first time I saw the pound sign # used on the Internet, was @ IRC + Internet Relay Chat, e.g, #USA channel.

    1. Thanks for the comment Martin! It's funny to see how the hashtag was initially used so sparingly on Twitter, and is now a major social media tool that is used all over the net.