By Les McKeown, CEO of Predictable Success
As you’re no doubt aware, Twitter’s future is at stake. Having put out a ‘please buy me’ sign and had no takers, once golden-boy CEO Jack Dorsey has announced that the company will lay off 9% of its workforce and shutter (or sell off) its once-lauded video platform, Vine.
How did Twitter, one of the foundational pillars of social media, fall so far from grace?
While Facebook – once derided by Twitter users as a frothy upstart – now has over 1bn daily active users, and revenue of over $17bn (compared to Twitter’s 320m users and around $2bn in revenue)?
The Curse Behind Twitter’s Decline
Interestingly, the genesis of Twitter’s demise goes way back to its very earliest days, when it was run by the current CEO, Jack Dorsey, together with his co-Founder, Evan Williams. (The third ‘founder’, Biz Stone, wasn’t active in day-to-day management.)
From that moment on, Twitter has suffered the curse of co-CEOs: competing vision. Put simply, a company cannot survive with competing visions at the top, and Twitter’s entire history has been a succession of competing visions.
First it was Dorsey and Williams (Dorsey ‘won’, and Williams was forced out). Then it was Dorsey and Dick Costolo (William’s replacement). Again, Dorsey ‘won’, with Costolo leaving in mid-2015 and Dorsey being hired back by the board as CEO for the third time.
By now, Twitter surely deserved (and desperately needed) all of Mr. Dorsey’s attention and vision, but incredibly, the board allowed Dorsey to also remain active CEO of Square, his other start-up.
In an amazing act of hubris on Mr. Dorsey’s part, and stupefying denial on the part of the board, the company was relegated to being a ‘side gig’ for its CEO.
The Consequences to Come
The lesson? You can’t spend your energies fighting competing internal visions and hope to survive – just ask RIM and Yahoo shareholders, both of whom saw their companies crippled forever by early competing vision.
And for poor, unloved Twitter – what happens next? Watch for either a mercy sale (someone buys it for next to nothing and turns it into a ‘feature’ of some other product or service), or a quiet transition from product to ‘public service’ a la Netscape/Firefox. It sure ain’t going anywhere else.