It started 2016 with the departure of top 4 of its executives — engineering head Alex Roetter, top HR executive Brian Schipper, media chief Katie Jacobs Stanton, and product head Kevin Weil — an ominous way to start the year, to say the least. A little over three months later, in May, 2 more of their top brasses decide to leave — business development head Jana Messerschmidt and head of media and commerce Nathan Hubbard. And the mass exodus didn’t stop there. In November, their Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain resigned. And in December, the last to go was Chief Technology Officer Adam Messinger.
The company’s value continued a downward trend throughout the year too. Was it a result of the mass resignations, or was it the company’s declining value that caused the resignations? Whatever the cause was, the end result was disturbing. Twitter shares closed at $16.30, down by over $6.00 per share, or nearly 30 percent.
At some point, Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) appeared to be in the midst of a sale process. But it didn’t pan out. Rumored potential buyers Disney (NYSE:DIS), Google-parent Alphabet, Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) and Softbank all decided against pursuing the purchase.
After the failed sale, Twitter’s manpower loss persisted. Towards the last quarter of the year, the company had to let go of approximately 9% of its workforce (around 300 – 350 employees) in an attempt to cut down on its expenses.
Its revenue did grow, though. As of its third quarter report, Twitter earned $1.81 billion, higher by about 20% compared with what it earned in 2015. It just pales in comparison with competition. Specifically, Twitter lagged by 36% behind Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) which earned almost $19 billion within the same period, up by close to 60% compared with its 2015 revenues.
It earned higher revenues, but not enough to turn into profit. The company still incurred losses. But at least the figures were lower than its net loss in 2015.
Features-wise, Twitter went through some alterations too. Some were good changes — striking a deal with the NFL to stream live football games; expanding the number of characters allowed in tweets; integrating Periscope’s live streaming capabilities directly into the Twitter app; and introducing live 360 degree video.
And some were clear challenges — shutting down Vine, the app that allowed people to share six second videos; banning irresponsible Twitter users who engaged in hate campaigns; and figuring out better ways to manage incidents involving offensive users and harassers.
All in all, Twitter as a company would probably prefer to look forward to 2017, rather than dwell on 2016. Especially because many agree that something drastic has to be done this year.
Having incoming president Donald Trump as one of its loyal followers might be a step towards the right direction. But Twitter has to figure out breakthrough ways to spark not just significant user growth, but also its appeal as an effective advertising medium. Otherwise, they might not just continue to slide but also never be able to rise up again.