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The Daily Grind

A Lesson in Leading During Uncertainty: Jack Dorsey

dorsey1Twitter, a live sharing platform used to share news, has been in the news itself over the past few months. Most recently, it reported disheartening first quarter earnings and no significant increase in monthly users from the previous quarter. Shares are falling and may continue to fall. This is a continuation of the bad omens surrounding Twitter since Jack Dorsey took the reins in October 2015. He cut 8% of the staff, and five executives have departed in the months following his promotion to CEO. An article in The Economist titled “Clunky Dorsey” criticized the platform’s performance, saying it “will never become the giant it was supposed to be.”

Dorsey has played a crucial role in Twitter’s development. He served as CEO when it first took off and is credited as the creator of the 140 character limit. In a return to their roots, investors and employees were hopeful that Dorsey could turn around the sluggish growth in monthly users and revenue. This turnaround as yet to come to fruition. Last year, Twitter co-founder and board member Evan Williams stated that the company was in need of a CEO with a “defining vision.” Following Twitter’s fourth quarter earnings announcement, Dorsey put forth that vision and a plan to implement it.

Dorsey defined what Twitter brings to the social media space and how they plan to increase their number of monthly users. “Twitter is live: live commentary, live conversations, and live connections,” he said. “Twitter has always been considered a ‘second screen’ for what’s happening in the world, and we believe we can become the first screen for everything that’s happening now.” Dorsey believes live video can help Twitter maintain relevance. Periscope, a live video streaming app owned by Twitter, will most likely lead the company in this effort. A more integrated video experience could also mean more advertising revenue considering one third of their current managed marketing clients use video ads.

Twitter will also have to revamp its current timeline to make it more user friendly and engaging, and Dorsey emphasized that this will be the biggest product focus. He has already overseen the implementation of a heart-shaped like button in place of the previously star-shaped favorite button. The platform, which posts tweets in chronological order, also recently introduced a new algorithm that surfaces the most liked and retweeted content from a user’s following. Dorsey also plans to change other aspects of the timeline such as the structure of the replies and conversations.

Although some analysts and investors are anxious after Dorsey’s first full quarter as CEO yielded no significant improvement, he has laid out a definitive plan and actionable goals for the company. He is hopeful that new innovations will attract and keep new users and generate as well as generate revenue for the social platform.

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