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Reports of Twitter's demise may be premature

Steven Max Patterson | Nov. 13, 2015
At the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco, Twitter's product chief highlighted the company's strengths as it enters a new era under founder and new CEO Jack Dorsey.

Weil echoed Dorsey's homage for Twitter's 1 million independent developers. Former CEO Dick Costello was criticized for disrespecting developers. The forced shutdown of Twitpics became the poster-boy of this controversy, unifying many developers against Twitter. Now Twitter has a hidden revenue opportunity that will come from righting the developer relationship. Twitter Fabric is a portfolio of tools used by 225,000 developers and installed with their apps on 1 billion devices. Fabric is very useful to developers. It reports back to the app's creators very granular causes of app crashes that developers find very useful in fixing bugs. Twitter also offers ad serving as part of the Fabric portfolio. Twitter stands to gain ad revenues if developers opt in to advertise using the Fabric crash reporting software developer kit (SDK) installed on all their users' devices.

Weil explained that Twitter's video properties Vine and Periscope are maturing as independent properties that attract users to Twitter. Vine, with over 200 million monthly active users (MAU), is a mobile video app that lets users create six-second videos often used by millennials as a social network. Celebrities (particularly those made famous on Vine) regularly interact with millions of followers.

Periscope's 10 million and growing celebrity and ordinary users broadcast live-stream video from smartphones. Private and public events are broadcast and watched for every reason that can be imagined, and then some: model Tyra Banks entertains, SportsCenter anchors chatter during commercial breaks, and people share personal, one-to-one, real-time experiences, like a sunrise.

Whatever value Periscope and Vine might provide for broadcasters and viewers, these products attract MAU growth and build traffic on Twitter by merging the increasingly popular medium of video into the tweet stream.

At the event, the audience heard about a company that in a short period of time has increased engagement in its main product line, appointed a motivational founder as CEO, recruited a top talent to return to Twitter from a dream job at Google Ventures, and has two fast-growing video properties. These resonate as the right steps forward to meet public investors' demands for growth. With nearly $3.5 billion in cash, Twitter isn't about to fail.  

Dorsey is in the same position as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was three years ago, as he embarked on the mobile-first turnaround that has made the company a star on Wall Street. Hopefully, losses and mistakes under Costello's watch have been written off, giving Dorsey better odds and more time. Weil's report concludes it is too early to write off either Dorsey or Twitter.


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