Twitter adds former Facebook CTO to its board of directors

Steven Loeb · July 5, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/465a

Bret Taylor, the co-creator of Google Maps, is just the latest new addition to the board

Jack Dorsey has tried many things to shake Twitter of out its doldrums. He has made efforts to reengage users, apologized to the developers that the company has pissed off years ago, and made overtures to his employees, giving them a huge amount of his own stake, to make them happy after announcing the biggest layoff in the company's history.

Perhaps one of the most important things he has done is to completely revamp the company's board of directors, letting go of numerous long-time members, who had overseen the company's period of stagnation.

That process continued on Tuesday with the addition of Bret Taylor, a veteran of Google and Facebook.

Taylor started his career as a Group Product Manager at Google in 2003. He spent four years there, where he co-created Google Maps, Google Local, and the Google Maps API. In 2007 he left to found FriendFeed, a real-time feed aggregator FriendFeed that was purchased in 2009 as one of Facebook's first major acquisitions (Facebook held onto the company for five years, before shutting it down in early 2015).

Taylor spent three years as Chief Technology Officer at Facebook, leaving in 2012 to found Quip, a mobile word processing company. 

Give Taylor's experience with consumer products, and with social media specifically, it's easy to see why he's a good fit for Twitter's board. 

"Bret brings to our Board a great mind for consumer products and technologies that will be invaluable to the company as we execute our plans for 2016 and beyond," Omid Kordestani, Twitter's executive chairman, said in a statement.

"His skills also complement those of our other recent Board additions, who bring expertise in finance, media, and entrepreneurship."

Twitter's new board

As I noted above, Taylor is just the latest new addition to the board of directors at Twitter, as Dorsey tries to shake things up. The company has been especially comitted to increasing diversity.

The first new addition was Kordestani, who was added in October, only a week after Dorsey officially took the job

Kordestani has deep ties to Google. He was employee number 11 at the company, where he led business operations. He left Google in 2009, but returned in August of 2014 as its Chief Business Officer, a position he held for a year. Kordestani is now listed as a Senior Advisor to Alphabet and Google. 

In April of this year, Twitter added two new members: Martha Lane Fox and Hugh Johnston.

Fox, co-founder and managing director of lastminute.com, was only the second woman to be appointed to Twitter's board. The first was Marjorie Scardino, former CEO of Pearson, who was appointed in 2013.

Johnston is Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of PepsiCo.

They replaced Peter Currie and Peter Chernin, whose terms were expiring this year and who both requested that they not be nominated again. Both of them will remain on the Board until the conclusion of the annual meeting.

In May, Twitter continued with its diversity push by appointing Debra Lee, CEO of BET, to its board. She was also named Chair of the company's Nominating/Governance committee.  Lee is the first African American board member that Twitter has ever had.

The other members of the board include David Rosenblatt, CEO of 1stdibs.com; Marjorie Scardino, Chairman of MacArthur Foundation; and Evan Williams, founder and former CEO of Twitter. 

Benchmark VC Peter Fenton is also on the board; his term will be up in 2017, and he, like Currie and Chernan, has already reportedly told the company that he will be leaving. So Twitter is certainly not done with this overhaul.

(Image source: businessinsider.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.