I joined Twitter in 2009 by the prodding of one of my closest friends. I can’t recall exactly why she suggested I join, but I remember sitting on her couch and following her along with my sisters, my high school friends and one of my favorite bands.
At the time with little knowledge of the platform I tweeted, “WHAT IS TWITTER?”
hanging out with caroline lassssorsaaa and eating peanut butter ice cream- WHAT IS TWITTER?
Kerry Flynn (@kerrymflynn) April 12, 2009
Seven years later, I’m still asking this question despite the thousands of tweets I’ve sent, hours I’ve spent each day browsing and favoriting, and years I’ve had reporting on the highs and lows of the company.
For me, in writing, the easiest description is a microblogging site or a social network. But either way that’s often accompanied by the word “struggling.”
The reasons are plentiful, when you look at the numbers: Twitter’s isn’t adding many more users and cannot retain others. The company has yet to turn a profit. The stock fell from an all-time high of $74 in December 2013 to an all-time low of $13.90 per share in May (That’s now up to $24, bumped repeatedly by reports of impending acquisition bids).
But it hasn’t been a quiet year for Twitter. Exactly one year ago, the board of directors chose to reinstate Jack Dorsey as CEO. The once-ousted leader and product visionary who back in 2006 was “just setting up my twttr,” was put in charge of fixing the platform.
He promised changes, and changes came. In his first week, the company released Moments, editorially-driven and human-curated collections of tweets and videos. The 140-character count was lifted from direct messages and subsequently tweaked for tweets. Hashtags received more emoji, and hashtags became stickers.
Dorsey has simultaneously pushed a narrative that he thinks answers the question, “What is Twitter?” following a trending hashtag #RIPTwitter.
Twitter is live. Twitter is real-time. Twitter is about who & what you follow. And Twitter is here to stay! By becoming more Twitter-y.
jack (@jack) February 6, 2016
Days later, he put out a priority list among one of the company’s most disappointing earnings. Twitter wasn’t just not growing; it had lost users.
“Each is critical to us strengthening our platform and audience around live,” Dorsey wrote in a shareholders’ letter.
Live for Twitter is no longer tweets it’s video. While Dorsey and Twitter haven’t come so far to say that Twitter will be “all video” in the future (unlike Facebook), the company has taken major stops to transform itself into a one-stop TV network by landing streaming rights.
First, it was 10 Thursday Night games of the National Football League. Then came other sports league like the MLB, NHL, NBA and Pac-12. Next was politics with the Republican and Democratic national conventions and later the debates, in partnership with Bloomberg Media. Some of these streams pull in a new revenue source for Twitter with its syndication of TV ads and available inventory.
Twitter might be in the midst of a turnaround plan, but a year into his second-time tenure, Dorsey, as an independent leader, may be out of time.
What Twitter needs
So the question now isn’t just, “What is Twitter?” It is, “What does Twitter need?”
Some say the company, again, needs new leadership. Chris Sacca, once the largest shareholder for Twitter, has been selling off his stock. While he tweeted in support of Dorsey as full-time CEO, Sacca revealed Wednesday that he sees value in an acquisition. Dorsey reportedly wants to keep his company independent.
“I don’t see how it gets materially better over the next two years without fresh blood,” Sacca said on Bloomberg TV.
Others, including former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, oppose an acquisition. “I think Twitter can be a successful, independent company,” he said earlier in the week to Bloomberg.
None of the partners are perfect. Neither is Twitter. Google and Salesforce are interested in a potential bid, CNBC first reported, along with Disney.
Inside the company, the most desired bet may be Disney. When Nick Bilton, author of the company’s origin and coming-of-age story Hatching Twitter and correspondent at Vanity Fair, asked executives earlier this year who is the dream buyer, one said, “Its a small world after all,” the lyric for an attraction at Disney Parks.
Brad Slingerlend, manager of global fund Janus Capital Group, also suggested Disney as the best-case scenario to Bloomberg. Citigroup evaluated the potential bid and claimed it would not be in Disney nor Twitter’s best interests.
If the future of Twitter follows Dorsey’s narrative of live, each of those suitors could play a part.
If the future of Twitter follows Dorsey’s narrative of live, each of those suitors could play a part. Google has its own live offering and video network through YouTube. Disney owns ESPN and has a stake in Vice Media.
The connection gets murkier with Salesforce. Salesforce is not focused on news or entertainment, but it is the largest integrator for brand to customer engagement which Twitter is so famously known for.
In fact, Twitter released a study conducted in partnership withApplied Marketing Science Wednesday that showed the value of businesses using Twitter. For example, if an airline responds to a customer’s tweet in less than six minutes, the customer is willing to pay $20 more in the future.
Salesforce investors are not pleased by the potential spend, however. The company’s stock dropped by 6 percent following a Wall Street Journal report on Benioff’s interests. He later went on CNBC, in part defending his claim.
“It’s in our interest to look at everything,” Benioff told CNBC. “We have to go deep on everything. We have to understand what is possible for our shareholders and what isn’t.”
And so does Twitter.
Originally found athttp://mashable.com/