Ten years ago, to the day, Jack Dorsey launched a platform that would facilitate social movements, spark a new form of shorthand internet speak, and bring people together during major world events — in just 24 characters, no less.
just setting up my twttr
— jack (@jack) March 21, 2006
Since that inaugural tweet, Twitter has amassed 320 million monthly active users and played a key role in some of the most important movements of today (the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter, to name a few). But the company has struggled with a plummeting stock and a stagnating user base.
Twitter’s shares dipped 7 percent after its fourth quarter earnings report for 2015 revealed the exact same number of active users as in the third quarter. In January, Twitter endured a series of executive departures, including its head of engineering, head of product, and head of Vine.
The company did meet Wall Street’s estimates for Q4 revenue — a fact that led CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey to give an optimistic interview with Bloomberg Business about Twitter’s future.
“Now, after the beginning of the year and setting the tone on earnings, it feels as if every week is building, building, building, building, building,” he told Bloomberg. “And that feels great. That feels great to our engineers. It feels great to our designers. It feels great that we have clarity around where we’re going and what we look like at the end of the year and how to build off that.”
Dorsey returned to serve as CEO to address the challenges Twitter has faced in recent years. Continue reading for key takeaways from his interview with Bloomberg and check out the full Q&A here.
On augmenting reality
“There’s a whole discussion around virtual reality and augmented reality, and Twitter has been augmenting reality for 10 years. You watch any game, you watch any live event, you watch any political debate, Twitter makes it more interesting, funnier, entertaining. I think Periscope takes that a step further by actually pulling them together on one screen. So if you were to very humbly think of Twitter as a chat room — a global chat room — it’s been this room that people talk about the world and what’s happening in the world nonstop.”
Why ‘new’ is more important than ‘premium’
“We certainly benefit a lot from our creators and influencers and what they bring to us, but what’s really interesting is just finding those new voices, as well, and emerging that new talent. And we’ve seen that happen again and again, certainly on Twitter, a lot of it where the journalists and comedians and sports commentators and whatnot who are finding and amplifying their voice on Twitter.
But also, we saw it with Vine, and we’re seeing it with Periscope, as well, emergent new talent that is a really interesting mix to the ‘premium,’ or ‘celebrity,’ or ‘head content’ that I think people focus a lot of their energy on. But the audience right now is looking for new — new, new, new, new, new — and looking for differentiated and unique voices. And we often see that they start on Twitter.”
On Twitter’s shifting priorities
“No. 1 is making sure we have collaboration among all our business units so we’re shipping in a cadence that makes sense and feels right for people. A lot of moving Adam Messinger—consolidating him into a new role, which is engineering product and design, so that they’re collaborating as one—has really been helpful. And you see it in the work over the past six to nine months.
The thing that makes anyone really happy about their work is just being able to say, ‘I shipped that, and my mom is using it.’ That just feels amazing. Or ‘hundreds of millions of people are seeing my work.’ That’s what emboldens people. The company’s always had a strong sense of self, of purpose, of pride, of heart and mission. And I think what’s gotten in the way of that in the past is the ability to ship clearly against stable priorities.”
“We’re going to make a lot of additions of people who add perspective and add strength. And I think the board is certainly an area, that leadership is certainly an area. So we’re going to continue to add great people who love this platform and love what we stand for in the world. We have no short supply of people wanting to come and work here and help us.”