Yesterday it was widely reported that Twitter had bought Yes, Inc., and that Kieth Coleman, the latter’s CEO, would be installed as the new VP of Product.
Nick Statt for The Verge:
The head product job at Twitter, known for its short-term residencies, has been officially vacant since June, when former product head Jeff Seibert returned to his role of running the company’s developer platform. Ed Ho, now the VP of engineering, held the interim role while the company sought out a full-time replacement. Prior to Seibert, Kevin Weil ran product at Twitter before he resigned in January and joined Instagram.
The more interesting tidbit, however, is Coleman’s Twitter history — it’s pretty much nonexistent. Despite being the chief of tech startup, Coleman has tweeted just 143 times. That would be reasonable if he hadn’t joined Twitter in June of 2007. In fact, there’s about a seven-year gap in his timeline, starting in November of 2007 and lasting until a retweet of The Verge’s own Walt Mossberg in 2014. It’s followed by a second retweet and then another two tweets in the entirety of 2015.
This seems to be a common problem with Twitter. No one seems to know what Twitter is supposed to be, and therefore they can’t figure out what direction to take the product. Late last year in a New York Times report about a new board member, noted that investor Chris Sacca was unhappy with the fact that too many Twitter board members don’t use Twitter.
I Understand that Twitter is a difficult service / product to understand. It took me 3 years to begin using it regularly and 5 years to really get my head wrapped around how it could be useful. Now it’s indispensable as a source of information and general snark. However, Twitter has had 10 years to figure itself out and still can’t find a clear direction.
Pile on top of that the ongoing abuse and harassment issues, and the continued difficulty for new users to understand what to do and it’s hard to see how Twitter makes it another 10 years.
Here’s Nick Stat again:
Neither of Yes, Inc.’s apps seem to spell out exactly what the company plans to do in the future, or how the startup it just acquihired to get its hands on a new product chief will influence future Twitter updates. But there is always hope that Coleman will be the product VP that lasts, at least longer than the one-year tenure his predecessors have established.
I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but things look grim.