For most of you that only know me as The Product Poet, who loves branding and haiku, while writing about products, charities, travel and food, let me just say that there is more to me than meets the eye.
For over the past three plus years I have managed to send out nearly 73,000 tweets and I have a very good sense of how difficult it is for Twitter to effectively compete in an over-crowded social media network marketplace. I now have 15 social media related applications on my iPhone, so even for me, managing my social networking network is challenging in-and-of-itself.
More importantly, back in my investment banking days, I used to provide strategic advice to companies like Twitter. I’ve represented companies in initial public offerings (“IPO’s”), mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”), debt-and-equity financings and joint-ventures, as well as I have been the CEO and board member of a publicly traded technology company.
In my current capacity, I advise and mentor companies on social media “engagement” not strategies, as well as invest in companies like an angel investor and I believe Twitter is a very immature company in the development life-cycle of a publicly traded entity.
What Twitter is going through now in my opinion was an ill-fated attempt to be a publicly traded company.
Simply put, Twitter wasn’t ready to be publicly traded and just as I worked on Wall Street during the technology bubble where there was a rush to get the latest dot bomb public, quickly and not-so-quietly, many of those companies have failed.
In my opinion, many of those dot bombs failed because of the market pressures faced on quarterly results, lackluster products (hint hint) and more investor capital being spent on the unintended costs of being a publicly traded company. For a small capitalization company (I’d define that as a sub-$500.0 million market capitalization company), we would estimate that just the cost alone of being a publicly traded company were about $2.0 million per year.
For a company that might only be generating $10.0 million of net income, that can be a sizable amount. And for what? The angst of shareholders and analysts? Liquidity for investors?
Companies make decisions to “go public” for all sorts of reasons, yet when product adoption continues to erode and financial performance continues to slide, perhaps the right strategy would be to either sell the company to either a strategic investor (such as perhaps Google) or a going-private transaction with a cadre of private-equity firms.
I can readily admit I have not read Twitter’s financial statements, but perhaps the expectations and hype that was expected during Twitter’s IPO simply were unrealistic and management setting expectations for their employees, investors and users simply never materialized.
But I do love Twitter. I think Twitter is by far the best social network for engaging people and this is where I believe that Twitter and its’ users, including the brands I interact with, simply are missing the boat.
Personally I find that there is no other social network that gives me access to almost any person that is active on Twitter. Key word: active. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not hear either a radio advertisement or television show that doesn’t use a hashtag for tracking.
I am hearing less and fewer ads where people are saying “Like me on Facebook,” instead hashtags seem to be ruling the majority of these conversations. Conversations. Yes the heart of Twitter.
Clearly now was the time to announce a management transition, but there are still some key core elements that are missing with the integration between Twitter, and its’ related Periscope and Vine.
If I was on the board of Twitter, what I would be looking for in a new CEO is not a new leader that is awesome at product development. You hire for those positions if they are not inside Twitter already. If I was on the board of Twitter, I would look to hire a new CEO that is considered a “power-user” of Twitter, perhaps someone like myself.
Having a CEO that intimately understands how to best keep and engage Twitter users and what it is that we need to make the user experience that much better.
Yes, Vine was a great addition to the Twitter family and Periscope has the potential to be incredibly impactful, yet I’m still quite surprised I’ve yet to see them monetized with advertisements similar to how YouTube allows partners to monetize their videos.
Yet, what I would be figuring out now is how do I keep the Periscope live stream directly within Twitter versus another app. I dislike the fact that in order for me to effectively use Twitter, I need to use three distinct apps. Just like Instagram has Hyperlapse and now Layout, scrap the multi-apps and just give me one app to do everything.
Make it easier to sign up, make it so I can curate lists easier, such as a news, sports, etc., versus individual followers. I already have made nearly 20 lists of importance and if an individual follower isn’t in any of those lists, it is impossible for me to see any of their tweets because I never, ever, ever pay attention to my home feed.
I could go on and on as far as all the other things that I would fix with Twitter, but I’ll save that for myself.
So to all the Twitter users as well as the board of Twitter, I’m ready to apply for your CEO position, but I will warn you in advance, I’m not just a “yes kinda poet”, I believe in challenging my colleagues to be active listeners, not just “hearers.”
I challenge my colleagues to be innovators, not accepting complacency; I challenge my colleagues to be the biggest champions of our company versus them individually; yet, I also allow my colleagues to fail, tinker, get back up, fail again, experiment, erase whiteboards and throw jello on the wall to see if it sticks, because one you have the right formula, you can put a frame around the jello on the wall and admire from a far as it will be far more valuable in the future to the right collector.