First it was about status messages, then Twitter started thinking global. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

If you have a choice between being lucky and good, always pick lucky.

A great modern example of this is Twitter, a company with a rocky early beginning that is now worth $31.9 billion and has 271 million users each month. Twitter was conceived in 2006 as a way to share status updates with friends, phrases as simple as “reading,” which you can see on an early mock-up of the service.

Eight years later Twitter is so much more. Its users came up with great features such as replies, hashtags and retweets. The best things about Twitter arguably came from people who didn’t work at the company. Its CEOs shuffled in and out, the fail whale (displayed during outages) frustrated users, but Twitter kept growing. As Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reportedly said of Twitter’s good fortune, “it’s as if they drove a clown car into a gold mine and fell in.”

To illustrate Twitter’s changing view of itself, I spent some time with the WayBack Machine. If you were visiting Twitter.com in these time frames, here’s how the company explained itself in a sentence or two:

Sept. 2006-Oct. 2006

Twitter is for staying in touch and keeping up with friends no matter where you are or what you’re doing. For some friends you might want instant mobile updates — for others, you can just check the Web.

Nov. 2006-Sept. 2007

A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?

Oct. 2007

Twitter asks, “What are you doing?” Friends answer with short messages. Updates are sent everywhere — instantly!

Nov. 2007-July 2009

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Aug. 2009-March 2010

Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world.

April 2010-Aug. 2010

Discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world.

Sept. 2010-April 2011

The best way to discover what’s new in your world.

May 2011-Feb. 2012

Instant updates from your friends, industry experts, favorite celebrities, and what’s happening around the world.

March 2012-Oct. 2013

Find out what’s happening, right now, with the people and organizations you care about.

Nov. 2013-June 2014

Start a conversation, explore your interests, and be in the know.

July 2014-present

Connect with your friends — and other fascinating people. Get in-the-moment updates on the things that interest you. And watch events unfold, in real time, from every angle.

Does anyone want to predict how Twitter will be describing itself in a couple years?