SAN FRANCSCO, USA – Twitter is betting that the second coming of co-founder Jack Dorsey as chief executive will bring blockbuster growth that has eluded its grasp and disappointed investors.
The one-to-many messaging service said Monday, October 5, that Dorsey, who has been interim CEO since June, will stay permanently at the helm while also remaining chief executive of Square, the digital payments firm he founded.
Twitter quickly became a global sensation after its launch in 2006, but the social media platform’s growth has slowed and it has yet to turn a profit.
Its board is likely hoping Dorsey’s return will have the same winning effect on Twitter as the return of another Silicon Valley wunderkind, Steve Jobs, did for a once floundering Apple.
“Twitter has its work cut out for it for the remainder of this year and beyond,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson.
“Jack must work quickly to restore confidence in the company. The question is: Can Twitter soar again?”
The soft-spoken Dorsey, who will turn 39 next month, promised as much in a tweet after Monday’s announcement.
“Our work forward is to make Twitter easy to understand by anyone in the world, and give more utility to the people who love to use it daily!” Dorsey tweeted early Monday.
The nomination of Dorsey, who ran Twitter in 2007-2008 and served as interim chief executive for the third quarter after Dick Costolo resigned in June, brings the messaging company full circle.
Dorsey was pushed out of the chief chair his first time around. He was said to have made a better engineer than a boss at the time, known to leave early for personal pursuits such as sewing or yoga classes.
Sporting dreadlocks and a nose ring back then, he was accused of poor management and was finally replaced by another Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams.
Twitter is counting on an older, more experienced Dorsey to be better at decisions from hiring and marketing to adding new features that will ramp use of the service.
“Now that Twitter’s CEO drama is out of the way, the company can get back to doing its job: Building products people want to use,” said Forrester analyst Nate Elliott.
“The key phrase there is ‘building products’ — something Twitter hasn’t done nearly enough of.”
The analyst maintained that Facebook has grown apace by offering new features and experiences at the social network while Twitter has stagnated, looking pretty much the same as it did when it first launched a decade ago.
“If it launches enough new features, some will surely find a wider audience,” Elliott said of Twitter.
“And a wider audience is exactly what Twitter needs.”
Dorsey sent the first ever “tweet” on March 21, 2006. His account, @jack, now has more than three million followers.
His return at the reins of Twitter comes as it struggles to expand its user base above 300 million people.
There are currently no plans to provide Dorsey with “direct compensation” for his role as chief, Twitter said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Investors applauded Dorsey’s permanent comeback, pushing up Twitter shares more than five percent to $27.75 by early afternoon in New York.
Dorsey taught himself how to write computer code by the time he was a teenager. He spoke of being fascinated by maps and trains, and of how listening to emergency service radio dispatchers as a boy got him intrigued with the power of communicating with short bursts of words.
Like many Silicon Valley celebrities, from Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates or Michael Dell, Dorsey dropped out of college – twice – in his native Missouri and in New York.
Dorsey is credited with coming up with the idea for Twitter when Williams gave workers at blogging startup Odeo two weeks to work on fun new projects as a way to break up the daily routine.
The platform let people fire off one-to-many text messages limited to no more than 140 characters.
Dorsey went on to found Square in 2009 and is the payments firm’s largest stakeholder, with a share of about 26%, according to a Square filing.
Today the dreadlocks are gone, and Dorsey has a net worth of $2.2 billion according to Forbes. He holds slightly more than 3% of Twitter’s shares.
In addition to his appointment, Twitter named Adam Bain as chief operating officer. Bain, 42, has overseen Twitter’s effort at monetization, including advertising.
Twitter also said Costolo had resigned from the company’s board. He had guided the San Francisco-based firm through its IPO in November of 2013. – Glenn Chapman, AFP/Rappler.com