Jack Dorsey: New Timeline Improves "Pretty Much Every Metric"



Twitter‘s user growth is flat and the company’s stock has been in the toilet, but CEO Jack Dorsey said during the Q4 earnings call Wednesday that the platform’s much-maligned new timeline should help pull the company out of its rut.

Twitter officially announced its introduction of an algorithmic timeline prior to the call. The feature is now available to general users on an opt-in basis. 

“We saw some really promising growth with the test of the timeline that we just announced this morning is rolling out today for everyone to try out. We’re really excited about this because it does improve the experience fundamentally,” said Dorsey.

He said an initial rollout of the feature with a select group of users showed improvement in “pretty much every metric across the board”:  more tweeting, more retweets, more likes. He said the timeline “balances that sense of live and a sense of recency.”

“It continues to show that we need to continue to invest in our core around the timeline, specifically.”

When news broke last week that the algorithmic timeline was to be introduced, users responded with criticism that the change would conflict with popular real time uses of Twitter like live tweeting and tweetstorms. But analysts agree introducing an algorithmic timeline will not necessarily destroy Twitter’s more temporal functions.

Still, with Twitter’s performance in the fourth quarter, it’s unclear whether a revamped timeline is enough to impress investors as the company struggles forward through a recent restructuring of leadership.

User growth continues to be stalled. Twitter added no new users in the last quarter of 2015, which Re/code notes is a first for the social network. The company actually saw a decline in users who do not receive tweets by text message, from 307 to 305 million.

The relatively flat growth drove down Twitter’s stock in after hours trading, but the stock rebounded after Twitter tweeted that its active users had returned to Q3 levels during the first quarter.

Twitter’s overall plan going forward is to “fix the broken windows and confusing parts” according to a letter to shareholders released prior to the call, which took the place of opening comments. The call instead started with the question and answer period for investors. Twitter plans to improve safety on the platform and address harassment concerns, and yesterday announced a new “Trust & Safety Council.” Investment in developers is also a key focus going forward.

Dorsey said that as he balances duties as CEO of both Twitter and payments company Square, he will use the balance of his time running Twitter to recruit talent especially in engineering.



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February 10, 2016

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