Twitter’s CEO Seeks Larger Role after Executive Exodus

CEO solicits product feedback from users to improve user experience

t1Microblogging site Twitter Inc.’s (NYSE: TWTR) CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey is seeking to assume a larger role in the beleaguered company as the exodus of top executives continues unabated over the past few months, as reported by Bloomberg on December 31st, 2016. As a first step in this direction, Jack Dorsey has reached out to users, soliciting product feedback with regard to everything from abuse on the site to users’ inability to fix errors after they publish tweets.

t2In response to user tweets, Dorsey said that the “biggest ask was for greater transparency around our actions (or inaction) and faster shipping.” For editing tweets, he said the “clearest ask was to provide a quick way to fix errors. Anything beyond requires showing edit history given tweets are public record.” Users also wanted an easier way to follow topics and understand the flow of conversations, Dorsey said. Dorsey also solicited product ideas for electronic payments company Square Inc., where he is also CEO.

Exit of top brass

The most recent exit of the Twitter’s top brass came in the form of Kathy Chen, Twitter’s managing director of Greater China, as reported by Reuters on January 02nd, 2017. Kathy, based out of Hong Kong, said she quit the company after a restructuring in the Asia operations. Kathy joined Twitter in April 2016 and has claimed that revenue from Chinese ad partners surged almost 400% over the past two years. Although Twitter is blocked in China, it works with advertisers in the country that are looking to reach a global audience.

Earlier in November 2016, Parminder Singh, the former managing director for Twitter in India and the Middle East, left the company. On December 21st, 2016, Twitter’s Chief Technology Officer Adam Messinger left the company for greener pastures. On November 10th, 2016, Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain announced his decision to leave the company. Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto took over the responsibility of Bain’s job. Vice President of Product Josh McFarland also left the company in November 2016, adding that he would join Greylock Partners as an investing partner.

Given the recent exit of top brass at Twitter, CEO Dorsey will indeed have to shoulder greater responsibilities and workload while being the CEO at Square Inc.

Stagnating user growth cause for concern

Twitter, which has been the subject of numerous takeover and acquisition speculations over the last few months, announced on October 27th, 2016, that it would shut down its the video-sharing mobile app Vine in the coming months, even as it moves to cut 9% of its workforce worldwide to reduce costs. The reduction will be mainly focused on its sales, partnerships, and marketing efforts. The cuts come about a year after a similar wave of layoffs of up to 336 employees was announced when Jack Dorsey took over as CEO in 2015.

Twitter is in the midst of a massive restructuring effort after a failed attempt to find a suitable buyer even as it fights against stagnating user growth, slowing revenue, and intense competition from rival social media platforms like Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Instagram, and Snapchat. t3The restructuring efforts, including the current layoffs and shutting down Vine could save Twitter $50 million to $100 million per year going forward.

After top potential bidders including Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM), Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) were said to have lost interest in Twitter, the microblogging site is trying its best to appeal to a diverse audience and gain traction in social networking through a new strategy that emphasizes live video feeds. Twitter’s recent push into news and sports on mobile devices could spark an interest among users. While Twitter is trying to improve its performance and cut costs through layoffs, the Company has been facing major challenges related to safety and tools to combat user abuse.

Twitter refines core services

t4In recent months, Twitter has focused on refining its core services in four key areas: onboarding, the home timeline, notifications and tweeting. The enhanced timeline drove increases in retention for both monthly active and daily active usage, as well as increases in Tweet impressions and engagement. While Twitter has posted better-than-expected results in Q3 FY16, it is focusing on restructuring its sales, partnerships, and marketing efforts to achieve GAAP profitability in 2017.

Twitter is also increasing its use of machine learning techniques to improve the relevance of notifications and provide additional content to people who come back to Twitter so they can continue to explore all of the unique news and commentary our service has to offer. For the past few months, Twitter has been working hard to build the most important safety features and updating its safety policies to give people more control over their Twitter experience. With regard to content, Twitter is improving its premium live-streaming video experience and Periscope.

Hope rides in 2017…

t5Amid the uncertainty relating to its possible acquisition, low employee morale, recent exit of top brass, Twitter remains positive that its restructuring efforts will bear fruit in 2017. Over the next few months, the company will focus on improving analytics that help users better understand which of their tweets have had the most impact and why. Twitter is also looking at using contact and list management features such as sorting, tagging, filtering, and grouping. A recent positive development was the complete integration of Twitter’s live-video streaming capability, Periscope, into Twitter. Twitter is also working on the much-demanded Edit feature to edit tweets.

As Twitter heads into the New Year, it remains to be seen if the company can achieve a turnaround with its new product head and COO. Twitter’s fresh talent most likely needs to find new direction and vision that only a founder can provide.

Stock Performance

t6Twitter’s stock stood at $16.44, gaining 0.86%, at the close on Tuesday, January 03rd, 2017, having vacillated between an intraday high of $16.45 and a low of $16.21 during the session. The stock’s trading volume was at 11,131,538 for the day. The Company’s market cap was at $11.82 billion as of Tuesday’s close.

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