Former senior executive at Twitter Inc
- Elon Musk's bid cancellation efforts and influence on Twitter (NYSE: TWTR), including executive and employee turnover
- Impact of an uncertain/recessionary global economy on Twitter, noting potential risks and opportunities
- Performance vs brand advertising, and dynamics surrounding Twitter’s ad tech stack
- 1-3-year outlook, addressing potential areas of focus
Despite all that’s gone on over the last few years, it seems Twitter as a service has largely remained the same. How would you describe the service and how has it evolved over the last couple years?
How has the macroeconomic backdrop been impacting the digital and social media industry, and Twitter more specifically? Many people see related risks, but do you see any positives? For example, could Twitter gain some share on the performance advertising side, especially after it finally completed the work on its ad tech stack? It seems the company finished that, and then there was one issue after another externally impacting its ability to gain some traction there.
You make a great point that, during times of uncertainty when people are seeking information, they’re increasingly going to Twitter, especially when other media options might cost some or a decent amount of money. How does the current environment play out when more and more people might be going to and engaging with Twitter? What are people not doing instead? You mentioned a couple of different options such as TikTok or Facebook. You didn’t highlight Instagram, or Pinterest. It’s fair to say that of those, Twitter is definitely seen as the most serious and the most real-time of the options. As Twitter benefits, who do you think loses out?
What do you say to the argument that during uncertain and difficult times, people don’t want to spend their time on a Twitter, as digging into the news reminds them of the current state of the world? That’s been used as a reason for why Twitter has, in some cases, been more of a niche product and has appealed only to certain users, whereas other platforms are used as an escape.
IDFA [Identifier for Advertisers] is something that all digital and social media players knew about a year or two before it was deployed, and it seemed to negatively impact many services – it still seems to be having a negative impact. How would you assess Twitter’s response and how its positioned going forward? Will it be a continuing problem? Has the company mitigated some of the challenges?
How would you think about CPMs at Twitter vs major competitors? Was the CPM level typically lower, and did the company like that because then it would incentivise more buying?
You noted brand vs performance advertising. I also mentioned that it took Twitter a long time to get its ad tech stack up and running. It seems the work that was necessary on that made it harder for the company to fulfil opportunities when it came to performance advertising. Do you think Twitter has a real opportunity when it comes to performance advertising, given that process is complete and its competitors can’t benefit from the third-party data it was using?
You made this reference to performance vs brand advertising. What is the mix between those two at Twitter? Where do you think it could go if everything goes right with the ad tech stack?
There have been many dynamics with Elon Musk making an offer to buy Twitter and the accompanying issues. Initially you said that leadership at Twitter didn’t necessarily have strong conviction and didn’t necessarily make bold decisions. When the deal to buy Twitter was announced, Musk was talking about shifting from human to algorithmic moderation, and from an advertising model to more of a subscription model. Do either of those things resonate with you, or do you think that was more pie in the sky?
Musk has been pretty vocal about Twitter’s continuing assertions that fake and spam accounts are 5% of total accounts, which has been reiterated quarter after quarter, year after year. Is that a reasonable assessment by Twitter or is it something to the company should pay more attention to? In reality, is that number not just higher, but maybe materially higher?
It’s fair to say that the Musk bid and situation in a lot of ways has done damage to Twitter. Many employees have left – General Manager of Revenue Bruce Falck said on Twitter in May 2022 that he was fired. Kayvon Beykpour, General Manager of Consumer Product, made a similar claim around the same time. What do you think is the lasting effect of these incidents on the morale at the company, and what can and should current leadership do to get the company back on track?
You have this core Twitter leadership group that feels like it can go it alone, but that still doesn’t get to some of the issues that we’ve been talking about, and all this assumes that Musk is not going to be in a position to buy the company. What’s next? What could or should the core leadership do to right the ship? Prior to the Interview, we discussed consensus estimates of mid-single-digit revenue growth in 2022, and then that growth is seen accelerating annually in 2023 and 2024 to around 15-20%. Are you confident that the company will able to do that, especially given the hollowing out of the employee and executive base?
You noted Twitter’s debt and how it could work if it’s able to keep its user base steady to a large extent. Could Twitter go on the offensive? Some people believe the outcome involving Musk will be some type of settlement where Twitter ends up receiving a payment from Musk. There is a break-up fee of USD 1bn on the table and the offer to buy the company is for USD 44bn, so there’s a belief that Twitter will get paid something in between. Where do you think it should commit that capital, assuming it gets an amount in that range? You mentioned this concept of ancillary products. What’s interesting is Twitter has a lot of times been in the right place but at the wrong time or executed wrong. Vine, Periscope and MoPub were all bought by Twitter, and it no longer owns and operates those to a large extent. Do you think it makes sense to invest in more R&D or M&A for ancillary products?
You mentioned that Twitter hadn’t quite completed the Goldbird project or ad tech stack. Was the expectation that it would complete in 2022? How much longer till that is ready and the company can start using that engine from a revenue generation and monetisation perspective?
Where do you see Twitter in 2025? What do you see as its biggest opportunity and risk?
Is there anything additional you’d like to highlight regarding Twitter?
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