Twitter made the headlines recently – even on Sri Lankan media – when its CEO, Dick Costolo, stepped down rather abruptly on Thursday. Costolo’s decision brought the company to light in a way many users never expected: unhappy investors, unmatched Wall Street figures, a slew of “this should have been done betters”.
In the wake of the media firestorm, several investor opinions have emerged to show why Dick may have decided to quit. In two now-famous essays on his blog, Twitter investor Chris Sacca went into overwhelming detail as to what Twitter was doing right and what Twitter was doing wrong (see “I bleed aqua” and “What Twitter can be” ). Perhaps spurred by frustration, Sacca’s detailed suggestions underlines some of Twitter’s biggest problems: it wasn’t doing enough new things, and it wasn’t making enough noise about what it did.
“I am a proud Twitter shareholder and Twitter user. I want this company to succeed. I want the people who work at Twitter to win. I want this stock to be worth more. I own more of it than virtually anyone working at the company. If at any point I do sound critical or impatient, it is because I believe Twitter can be so much more than it is today. I assume each one of you who owns Twitter shares, and every single one of you who works at the company would agree,” wrote Sacca, before going on to detail a whole set of changes he believes the team should build – including human-edited content streams, new ways of engaging with people and the Twitter equivalent of VIP accounts.
Sacca is not alone. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who invested $300 million in Twitter in 2011, is said to be unhappy about the replacement CEO – Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square (who, for the record, was ousted by the management before).
Some of the most often cited problems is that, compared to Facebook, Twitter isn’t retaining enough users or providing enough value for advertisers (Facebook has 1.4 billion users: WhatsApp has 800 million; Twiter has 302 million). “When you talk to Twitter, you can throw some great ideas on a whiteboard, but there seems to be a lack of urgency,” Adam Epstein of AdMarketplace is reported to have said.
However, Twitter’s Q1 earnings report is still impressive (despite failing to hit Wall Street’s expectations): a Q1 revenue of $436 million, 74% growth over the last year. Time will tell what happens at Twitter now.