June 11, 2015

"The situation at Twitter must be much worse than it appears, as replacing the C.E.O. is such a big step,"

"Pressure on [Dick] Costolo grew in recent weeks after Chris Sacca, an early Twitter investor, went public with an 8,500-word analysis of what Twitter could be and how it could get there...."
Mr. Sacca’s manifesto calls for a much deeper rethinking of Twitter’s service, which is still focused on 140-character text messages, to attract new users beyond the 302 million active users it reported for the first quarter....
Isn't weird that a service that's all about cramping us forever into this tiny number — 140 — is desperately pressured to get ever bigger and certainly cannot be allowed to stagnate at 302 million?

ADDED: Here's the manifesto. I was interested to read:
New user growth has stalled.
Almost one billion users have tried Twitter and not stuck around....

Twitter can be indispensable, engaging, and fun for everyone on the planet, and make even more money in the process. So why isn’t that happening?

1. For most people, Twitter is too hard to use.
2. For most people, Tweeting is scary.
3. For most people, Twitter feels lonely.

None of this is a surprise, as Twitter was mostly built by and for its power users....
AND: Here I was last month emoting in the manner of one of Chris Sacca's "most people":

37 comments:

YoungHegelian said...

Isn't weird that a service that's all about cramping us forever into this tiny number — 140 — is desperately pressured to get ever bigger and certainly cannot be allowed to stagnate at 302 million?

Not half as weird that an incredibly popular service with 302 million users can't seem to come up with a business model where it can turn a profit.

Rob said...

Twitter is hard to use? How much easier could it be?

readering said...

I find it hard to follow.

Coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rockport Conservative said...

I am not really interested in what everyone thinks at every single moment. That is what twitter thinks I should be interested in. I am not. I do not care.

Ron said...

Twitter is excellent and it is helping me a lot right now.

Patrick said...

Jerry Maguire, call your office.

Rusty said...

I sold my stock when it doubled .

Yancey Ward said...

I for one welcome the first Twitter novel.

sydney said...

To me, Twitter is just a bunch of noise. Aptly named. I stopped paying attention to it because it was too distracting.

Laslo Spatula said...

Twitter has hordes, not members.

I am Laslo.

CWJ said...

"Twitter can be indispensable, engaging, and fun for everyone on the planet, "

Indispensable? everyone? ...on the planet? I've not read anything so jejune since 78% of all high school commencement speeches. Is this guy an actual adult?

Paco Wové said...

4. For most people, Twitter is stupid.
5. Stupid people post stupid things on Twitter.
6. Something about Twitter causes even non-stupid people to post stupid things on Twitter.
7. I get enough exposure to the stupidity of the world through Facebook. Why in God's name would I want stupidity distilled to its essence and concentrated?

David said...

Twitter is for the self promoting narcissists and the people who watch them. That it explains the large number users.

tim in vermont said...

I think that twitter might be good for some things. Following sports teams or golfers or whatever, but I kind of like the illusion that 10 million people haven't said the same thing I am about to say already.

So many tweets are just "Hey look at me!" If you get a hashtag that is "trending" then people jump on it. For instance #EscapeFromNewYork, or whatever the tag is for the prison break is probably has some guy saying "Hey, our band Aris is about to drop a new album, watch for it! #EscapeFromNewYork"

"The problem with Twitter is that there are no gatekeepers" Who said something like that?

Æthelflæd said...

Robert Wright looks like a sad cocker spaniel. Twitter is not particularly user friendly, but it can be fun. If nothing else, follow Dave Burge.

Birches said...

think that twitter might be good for some things. Following sports teams or golfers or whatever, but I kind of like the illusion that 10 million people haven't said the same thing I am about to say already.

Yep. I follow sports stuff and political people and Iowahawk too. But I don't actually care about having a lot of followers myself. Actually, I'd prefer that no one follow me. And I will never tweet. Ever. Retweeting seems risky enough. I've seen way too many people destroyed over an innocuous tweet. I leave the witty to the professionals.

richard mcenroe said...

In Twitter's defense, I frequently learn about events and people I'm interested in through people's tweets significantly sooner than I do waiting for the "respectable" media to give those events their imprimatur.

eddie willers said...

I find it hard to follow.

It baffles me completely.

Who is saying what?
Who are they saying it to?
Is it your quote or someone else's?
Who started the thread?
Is it going from new to old or vice versa?
Am I supposed to click the links?
If so, which one?

I just wait for someone to post something Iowahawk said.

Such as: I'm so anti-metric that my speedometer is set for Furlongs per Fortnight

jr565 said...

What's the use of Twitter? It's typing. I can type elsewhere and am not limited by 302 characters. The only thing I see a benefit I'm is if you were using Twitter to say advertise new products your business was selling. But do you want that lost in a Twitter feed?

Renee said...

Great for local info. I follow the local police/local reporters.

It's like an emergency broadcast system, when you put these things on "notify" and not simply follow.

Rusty said...

I used it once. I realized it's mostly just a bunch of people jerking off on the web.

Robert Cook said...

Maybe because there are only so many people in the world who don't experience Twitter as a baffling, frustrating and pointless means of communication.

Robert Cook said...

That is, "maybe" growth of Twitter use is stalling "because there are only so many people...etc."

damikesc said...

Twitter has become simultaneously vicious and pathetically whiny. The service has famous people routinely blocking large swaths of people, many having never dealt with that person, making the service even more useless.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

In ten years Twitter will be bigger than Apple.

Any product creating the angst and envy displayed here by the out-of-touch old folks has a promising future among the more limber minded.

I view ***TRIGGER WARNING***Iowahawkblog daily and am better looking, taller, and wealthy because of it.

tim in vermont said...

Any product creating the angst and envy displayed here by the out-of-touch old folks has a promising future among the more limber minded.

LOL. You invest your money then come back and taunt us when you are "Rich! RICH!"

Peter said...

"For most people, Twitter is stupid"

Twitter is for twits? Can they trademark that? (It's catchier than "Twitter is for the easily bored," although that may be more accurate.)

Tibore said...

Twitter is too hard to use? Compared to what, a light switch? A chair? A coffee cup?

lgv said...

About 1/10th of the time the first person nails my thoughts.

YoungHegelian hit it on the head.

If you have 302 million users and can't turn a profit, step 1 is not the billion users you lost. Step 1 is find a business model that makes money at 302 million users, then figure out how to get to 600 million users and remain profitable once you get there.

I wonder what the original business plan had for its breakeven user count.

Thirty + years ago I went to work for a startup that had a $100 million first year projection. It did $4 million. It had built an infrastructure for a $100 million operation. The next owner turned into a success once he wiped out the old infrastructure. It's very well known today.

At some point a company has to have positive cash flow. Revenue growth without positive cash flow leads to what is called investor fatigue. I not surprised we don't see more of it the dot.com arena.

lgv said...

Oh, maybe if they go to 154 characaters, they can expand their user base by 10%

One reason for Twitter fatigue is the number of people that have burned themselves. Regardless of how many tweets you have done in your lifetime, one wrong tweet and you can lose your job. E.g. the president of the PGA.

Tibore said...

Hmm... from that linked manifesto:

"What’s Not Going Well At Twitter?
1.New user growth has stalled.
2.Almost one billion users have tried Twitter and not stuck around.
3.Direct response advertising has fallen short of hopes.
4.Wall Street’s confidence in the management team has diminished.
5.Twitter has been unable to convince investors of its potential upside."


My goodness, forget first world problems, talk about moaning over how the company he's invested in hasn't achieved total world domination when it's already one of the top services out there. Only someone with unrealistic expectations can come up with that list.

1. It's stalled because it's not a replacement for other communicating technologies (I'm getting sick of the term "social media", so I'm coining my own). It's strength is in how it augments other ones. Some of the most successful uses is how it combines with various other services for, say, public events like pro sports, or concerts, festivals, etc. It's not a replacement, nor is it a standalone tech save for some very narrow uses, so suggesting it's got room to grow is just counting human population rather than identifying who'd truly use it. And among the crowd with the potential to truly use it, it's already achieved saturation.

2. This is just another angle on the same core problem that's resulted in #1. If there's any who'd use it if it just had more features, or a better experience, that's likely a pretty small number.

3. What does he expect? People hate advertising; why would they choose to be interactive with it?

4. This I can't respond to; I don't know anything about that aspect of the company.

5. To what degree? Even he notes the ridiculousness of the expectation by stating "It’s worth noting that Wall Street is the only place in the world where 300 million people using a service and an additional 500 million people visiting a site each month lead to charges that it isn’t “big” or “mainstream". Saying that a service hasn't met expectations or their own predictions is more about how executives inside and pundits outside just outsmarted themselves. It doesn't say anything fundamental about the technology's current capabilities, it's place in the internet, and how well or ill it does what it's supposed to do. Which means that it's paying the price for being oversold to investors, not for failing to meet it's technological potential.

I know that he's written what he believes to be a truly constructive and forward-looking manifesto, but this feels like a first, unintentional step towards damning an already wildly successful company for not being 1000x more wildly successful. And this from me, someone who uses it but has a fundamental loathing of what it represents: The oversimplification of communication and dumbing down of the internet commentariat. I wouldn't shed a tear if Twitter disappeared tomorrow, but that doesn't stop me from recognizing it's already crazy successful in it's niche. And I hate to criticize a piece that has some excellent observations in it; he's dead on regarding the recency vs. quality problem, and I feel his idea of channels is FAR better at categorization than the groaning-under-it's-own-weight metadata setup Twitter has in hashtagging (have channels, then use hashtags within it to find specific content; that would be best). But all the same, is he accidentally damning an A+ grade for not being a straight shutout 100%? It sure feels like it.

Henry said...

Twitter has lost $1B since going public.

The graph at the link is pretty brutal.

I still haven't conceived of any reason I need to follow twitter, let alone create my own account.

Henry said...

Paco Wove's #6 is right on the money. Nobody is clever all of the time, not even professionally clever people.

Renee wrote: It's like an emergency broadcast system, when you put these things on "notify" and not simply follow.

This is an interesting comment. This is the idea of using Twitter like an RSS feed. I love RSS for winnowing down the news to the important stuff -- like baseball no-hitters -- but not even Google could monetize it. If the point of the feed is to be notified, you're not going to put up with the notification leading with an ad.

chillblaine said...

Twitter has 300 million users? I doubt that very much. I am always getting offers for 10,000 followers for ten bucks.

tim in vermont said...

I wonder what the original business plan had for its breakeven user count


1) Spend a fortune on bandwidth, servers farns, and acres of terabytes of fast storage.

2) ????

3) Profit!!!

Loren said...

And more and more the twitter suspension process has been hi-jacked by the "Shut -up, he said " crowd. People get banned, because they don't follow the progressive line. ie Steve Goddard.