Let me start this post out by stating that I believe in the long term prospects of Twitter (TWTR) I’m an investor in the stock and a Monthly Active User (MAU) of the platform. In fact, to the dismay of all my friends on the technical side, I’ve remained long the stock despite the obvious and very painful downtrend. So the question I’m about to ask comes from the perspective of an avid user who holds a (not as large as it once was) investment in the stock. If, after reading this, you still question my belief in the potential of Twitter, read this article I wrote in March, 2015.
There is no doubt that Twitter has built a great platform but they are stuck in neutral, woefully unable to drive user growth. The more I’ve followed Twitter, listened to the conference calls, and read about the product innovation, the more I’ve wondered: what’s missing? Then I read this post by Josh Brown and it hit me. Could it be that passion is missing at Twitter?
For context, I’m operating under this theory:
Passion drives innovation and innovation drives the product change that will grow the Monthly Active User base
I submit that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be truly passionate about a product that you rarely use. In order to generate the kind of innovation that will drive user growth, you must first have a deep understanding of the platform’s short comings and an intimate knowledge of how and why your users interact with the platform. This type of insight cannot be garnered from data alone. The decision makers at Twitter need to be passionate about the platform and engaged with the user base in order to generate the game changing ideas that will draw more users to Twitter. Which leads us to the big question:
Are Twitter’s decision makers passionate about the platform?
Here is a list of the Twitter Board of Directors and the number of times they have engaged with the Twitter platform by tweeting:
Do you see passion for the platform in this list? Aside from the co-founders, Twitter’s Board of Directors does not contain a single Monthly Active User that the company so covets.
Twitter board member Peter Fenton has an impressive resume as a venture capatilist but the only thing that appears on his Twitter profile is a link to his LinkedIn page.
You have to go to LinkedIn to find out he’s on the Board of Directors at Twitter. This doesn’t scream passion to me. In fact, it sends a message to investors that he values his LinkedIn profile more than his Twitter profile.
Senior leadership at Twitter is more of a mixed bag with some really engaged people like Adam Bain, Kevin Weil, and Katie Jacobs Stanton and others that barely use the platform at all.
Twitter should use @twitter to recruit passionate talent
What stood out to me on this list is the Vice President of Human Resources, Brian “Skip” Schipper’s 28 tweets. In combination with Board Member Fenton’s profile directing us to his LinkedIn page, it tells me that the leadership at Twitter does not view @twitter as a venue to recruit talent. As an investor, I think this is a huge mistake.
There are so many talented people on the Twitter platform. And the bonus for Twitter is that this talent pool is full of monthly active users who have that deep understanding of what makes Twitter great and what could improve it and draw new users. At the very least, Twitter could leverage this talent and create an innovation advisory board that meets regularly with the decision makers.
If passion is important, then Twitter needs to look no further than @twitter for the remedy.
Disclosure: The author is long $TWTR