Twitter Inc held its annual meeting of shareholders last month. CEO Jack Dorsey tried to uplift the mood of investors by claiming that the ‘world needs Twitter’. He also said that it is all about ‘live’. However, the day ended up as being one when he had to again explain what Twitter is and why it still exists. ‘We believe the world needs Twitter,’ Dorsey said during the question-and-answer portion at the firm’s headquarters in San Francisco. ‘We believe it is and it can be the first place that people go to when they want to find out what’s happening in the world, when they want to get their news, when they want to have a conversation.’
Twitter Inc CFO Says ‘2016 Will be a Year of Execution’
Over the past three years, Wall Street has shown little faith in Twitter’s ability to grow its number of users. The firm’s base of 310 mn monthly active users pales in comparison with Facebook’s 1.59 bn. Just a day before the meeting, Michael Nathanson, senior analyst at the research shop MoffettNathanson, wrote that Twitter’s new initiatives were ‘too little, too late’ in his note about downgrading the stock from neutral to sell.
Twitter’s executive team is aware of the need for action. Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto closed his opening remarks to the audience by saying, ‘2016 will be a year of execution.’ Indeed, the firm has released product updates and inked partnerships that will improve the experience, attracting new users and retaining old ones, Dorsey said. What Twitter has in its favor is talent, with employees who are dedicated to building the product, said attendee Carter Mansbach, president of Jupiter Wealth Strategies. ‘Being there and talking to the employees, I asked them, ‘Do you trip out on the stock price?’ They were just a really motivated, young group. They talked about the NFL deal and the potential there. Every person I spoke to, they all had that gleam in their eye,’ Mansbach told International Business Times after the meeting.
The firm has made strides in each of the five priority areas, Dorsey demonstrated. A day before the meeting, the firm introduced four refinements to simplify tweets and conversations. The firm inked a deal with the National Football League to stream 10 Thursday night games. It is encouraging more celebrities to use the system. It has added new anti-harassment tools, such as reporting multiple tweets at the same time.
Twitter Will Dish Out More News
At the same time, Twitter Inc has cut some non-priority operations such as working on the ‘buy’ button carried out by its now-repurposed commerce team, BuzzFeed reported. Still, bugs are evident, and the morale of some stockholders has been low. Dorsey said ‘We have plenty of moderation tools.’ He also attempted to showcase the app’s GoPro integration with a Periscope from a drone, but it quickly cut out. ‘That is the risk you take any time you demo anything live,’ he added.
Meanwhile, Twitter claims to be an expert in live. Rumors of an acquisition constantly fly around Twitter, and one stockholder chose to ask whether she could expect such a deal. The short reply: no. Dorsey said he sees a future as an independent company. ‘I think we have a lot more focus on what truly matters to move our needles and the usage,’ he said. So what is the ‘catalyst’ going forward?, one stockholder asked. Twitter needs to tell its own story better. ‘Every public firm puts out news. You change the conversation. You change the communication,’ Mansbach said. Shareholders and publishers can expect to see more press releases in the coming years, Dorsey said.
Additionally, Twitter Inc has recruited new board members, some of whom were in attendance at the meeting: BET Networks CEO Debra Lee, PepsiCo Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston and internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox. The NFL partnership may be the first of many TV deals to come. ‘We’re not going to stop with sports. We’re in an election year. You should expect something from that as well,’ Dorsey said.