Twitter lures Leslie Berland over from AmEx to be its CMO

Steven Loeb · January 26, 2016 · Short URL:

Berland could be a key hire as Twitter looks to rebuild its executive team

The executive shuffle at Twitter continued on Tuesday, but at least this time it was a bit of good news for the company, which has recently seen many of its executives departing for greener pastures.

The company has hired Leslie Berland, Executive Vice President, Global Advertising, Marketing & Digital Partnerships at American Express, as its new Twitter chief marketing officer, it was revealed in a Tweet from CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as one from Berland

Berland had been with American Express since 2005, where she led a global team responsible for creating marketplace demand and driving commerce through products, marketing and customer experiences. She was also a member of the company’s Global Management Team, where she oversaw advertising, media, sponsorships, content, brand identity and digital partnerships for the enterprise.

Prior to American Express, Berland led PR and online communications strategies for global brands on the agency side.

Rumors of Berland's hiring began spreading earlier this week.

Twitter is a service like no other. It has and continues to change the world, shaping how we communicate and connect, how we're entertained, informed and inspired. It represents everything that's relevant at each and every moment – to me, there's nothing more powerful," Berland said in a statement provided to VatorNews.

"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Jack and the Twitter teams to bring the magic of Twitter to life, broaden its reach, and deepen its impact as the company enters this incredibly exciting new chapter."

Getting a big, splashy hire come on board is a nice change of pace for Twitter, which has lately been seeing the exact opposite happen.

Twitter lost five high profile employees on Sunday: Katie Jacobs Stanton, the company’s VP of global media; Kevin Weil, it's SVP of product; Alex Roetter, who is and SVP of engineering, and Brian “Skip” Schipper, Twitter's Vice President of Human Resources, and Jason Toff, general manager at Vine, all of whom chose to leave Twitter. 

As a result of that news the company saw itself get downgraded, and its stock sink. 

Those were far from the only recent departures for Twitter. Mike Davidson, Twitter's Head of Design, announced he was departing in December. In the two weeks prior to that Twitter had also lost engineer Utkarsh Srivastava, who helped the company build its ads business, and it also saw the departure of Glenn Otis Brown, who has been heading up Twitter’s video ad program. Srivastava left for Google, while Brown went to Betaworks.

The biggest departure of the past year, was, of course, that of CEO Dick Costolo in June. After struggling mightily to get Twitter back on its feet, and to get its user numbers back up, he was forced to resign his position over the summer. 

Twitter's stock has taken a big hit as a result of all of this, losing over a quarter of its value since the beginning of the year. This latest news doesn't seem to be moving the needle much, though, as Twitter's stock is only up 0.65 percent on Tuesday, sitting at $17.13 a share.

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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, 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, 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 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.