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Despite all of Jack Dorsey's efforts, turning around Twitter is going to take a long time
It was easy to get swept up in all the changes that Jack Dorsey is trying to make to Twitter. Some of them are small, some of them pretty major, but they are all in service of getting the struggling network back on its feet. It's been a bit of a whirlwind.
Now comes a reminder that, oh yeah, there is a lot of work to be done. And this is going to be really, really hard.
Twitter's stock fell 4.16 percent on Thursday, losing $1.01 to $23.31 a share. The reason that's noteworthy is that is the lowest price it has ever closed at. In fact, in its entire now now more than two year life as a publicly traded company, it has never, at any point been that low.
It is now down over seven percent from $25.23 a month ago, and down 36 percent from $35.57 a year ago. Twitter has now dropped around 17 percent since Jack Dorsey was named CEO back in early October.
It has been trending down this way for a while; in August the stock ended trading under $30 for the first time ever, and except for a few days in October, has never been able to come back up.
The company had a $26 IPO price and debuted at $45 a share in November of 2013.
Of course this is not the news that Twitter, or Dorsey, want to hear right now. That does not mean, however, that his plans for the future of the company will not bear fruit.
Right from the start he said his goals would be "ambitious" and "bold." So far they have included thelaunch of Moments, a feature that is designed to curate content by aggregating Tweets and photos from live events and breaking-news situations, something that Dorsey has called "a real, fundamental shift in our thinking."
The company has started experimenting with reordering the timeline, and reports have also come saying the company is looking into breaking the traditional 140-character limit, which would allow Twitter users to publish long-form content to the service.
Beyond changes in features, Dorsey has also attempted to reverse years of animosity between the company and developers by reaching out to them and asking them to come back to the platform. He also gave a third of his stock in the company, which amounts to $211 million, back to employees.
Keeping employees and developers happy is important, but the biggest thing that Dorsey has done so far has been to, finally, start showing ads to logged out users, something the company has been talking about doing for over year.
This represents a big opportunity for Twitter. Average Monthly Active Users (MAUs) were 320 million for the third quarter. According to Twitter, the number of people who visit Twitter each month without logging in is 500 million, 56 percent more than the number of people who have accounts. That number also includes people who click on links to Tweets in Google search.
The move temporarily impressed investors, but it has not been enough. Honestly, if Twitter is going to survive, Dorsey better figure out a way to get them back on board as well.
Shout out to Re/Code for first noticing this.
(Image source: psychiclibrary.com)
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What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests.
Where did the idea for Twitter come from?
Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.
How is Twitter built?
Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes.
We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.
How do you make money from Twitter?
There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.
In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet.
At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.
Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.
What's next for Twitter?
We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users.
We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.