Around this time last year, the big question about Twitter was how much would the social network and the company’s culture change after going public. The answer is that it would change quite a bit, especially in 2015.
Lately, Twitter enjoyed its precious time with Wall Street in its first three months as a public company, with the stock briefly soaring above $70. That came to an abrupt end the day that Twitter released its first earnings report in February. Twitter beat Wall Street estimates for revenue and earnings, yet user growth came in below estimates. The stock fell by more than 20% overnight.
Some version of that episode has repeated itself after multiple earnings reports since then, forcing Twitter’s top execs to stress user growth above all else and prove to investors that it is a mainstream service like Facebook. Twitter’s CEO deputised and then replaced a series of execs to help reignite growth, but with minimal results. Meanwhile, executives pressed for more product ideas.
The result of those efforts will increasingly be seen throughout the next year.
The new Twitter
During Twitter’s first Analyst Day event this month, the company’s executives attempted to renew investor confidence by laying out plans to speed up product development and release a wide range of new features.
Twitter plans to introduce an upgraded timeline for new users which reduce the friction of having to find people to follow when first signing up on the social network, perhaps for existing users who just haven’t found the most engaging conversations to follow. This way, Twitter hopes it can improve user onboarding and retention.
The social media company will also begin highlighting tweets users may have missed while away, introduce native video editing and sharing features and more breaking news alerts. All of them may designated to boost user engagement and pave the way for stronger advertising options.
It’s all part of Twitter’s strategy to expand on its service as much as possible without undermining the fundamentals of what makes Twitter.
“Obviously, Twitter will always be a real-time network. That is our No. 1 priority when we think about the user experience,” Anthony Noto, Twitter’s recently hired CFO, said during the company’s most recent earnings call. “But there are time periods when something incredibly relevant to you as a user could have occurred hours ago before you open up the Twitter app. And we will see unique opportunities like that to give you content that’s incredibly relevant, even if it’s not based on what happened most recently.”
Facebook has been pushing hard to release more standalone apps in order to be more effective and cater specific uses. Now Twitter plans to follow suit.
Dick Costolo, Twitter’s CEO, told analysts at the event this month that the company plans to introduce more standalone apps. He didn’t provide more details about what types of apps there may be, though the team suggested some might make use of Twitter content framed in a different way. Some obvious candidates, based on pure speculation, might be messaging apps or news-focused applications.
“Like Vine, we believe there are complementary applications that can live outside of Twitter that will help us grow [to the] largest daily audience in the world,” Costolo said.
So far, Twitter has had mixed success with its standalone apps. Vine has gained a strong following. On the other hand, Twitter Music was killed off earlier this year.
As expected, Twitter has made several notable acquisitions after its IPO, including social TV analytics companies, a commerce startup and an Android lock screen app. This action may continue in 2015. In September, Twitter raised $1.8 billion in a convertible debt offering, roughly the same amount it raised from its public offering a little less than a year earlier. The additional capital gives Twitter more cash on hand for future acquisitions, though still far less than the cash available to rivals like Facebook and Google.
Costolo said that Twitter will be “opportunistic” about acquisitions.