Poor Jack Dorsey. Last week it emerged the Twitter founder is no longer a billionaire and now it seems his execs are deserting his company like rats throwing themselves off a proverbial sinking ship.
This morning (last night in Silicon Valley time), Dorsey confirmed the departure of Twitter’s head of product Kevin Weil, its head of engineering Alex Roetter, head of media Kate Jacobs Stanton and HR boss Skip Schipper. ‘All four will be taking some well-deserved time off.’ Dorsey tweeted (of course), adding that departees ‘have chosen to leave the company’. Jason Toff, head of Twitter’s video service Vine is also heading off. The departures follow a period of turmoil for Twitter, which is struggling to turn its big user base into meaningful amounts of cash.
It’s often unclear in these situations whether those moving on had jumped or were pushed. The departure of five people in one go does rather imply the latter, especially in light of Dorsey’s earlier cull of 8% of the company’s workforce.
Twitter only lists 10 people in its executive team; getting rid of four of them is a pretty radical clearout. It’s particularly awkward timing given that Twitter is reportedly holding an executive retreat later this week – somebody better alert the caterers that they won’t be needing as much food anymore.
It’s not just on the personnel front that Dorsey has been radical – and with good reason. The 39-year old was brought back as CEO in October in a bid to revive the ailing social network’s fortunes. He has tinkered with the order Tweets are displayed in – something that may sound like a minor change to an outsider but that has caused great consternation among the social network’s hardcore users.
The new regime has also floated an even more controversial measure: increasing Twitter’s 140 character limit to 10,000 characters, a move that could radically change the nature of its whole purpose. The company has also launched a new feature called 'moments', a compilation of 'the best of what’s happening on Twitter', reception of which was lukewarm at best. All of this experimentation is a bid to attract new users after the company’s growth slowed down, disappointing its expectant investors.
There are few signs that disappointment has faded. Twitter’s shares rallied a little in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of Dorsey’s appointment, but have since gone further south; falling below the price they floated at in November 2013. Dorsey had better bring in some seriously good replacements for his fallen comrades if he wants Twitter to soar again.