Just a month after heavy-hitting Twitter investor Chris Sacca penned a critical (yet aspirational) open letter to the social media platform, another one of Twitter’s own is giving his take on the company’s direction. In an interview Tuesday morning with journalist Walter Isaacson about the future of Twitter, Evan (Ev) Williams revealed that his hope is for Twitter to become a real-time news platform.
Williams explained: “I think Twitter is primarily a news system. From early on, we didn’t know what it was: a social network; microblogging was a thing a lot of people called it. In 2009, we made the distinction internally and the way we started talking about it was as a real-time information network. Since then, [there have been] many applications of that [including] personal components and public components. What is news? Twitter excels at that.”
So what does the company need for that to happen? More developers, says Williams. A couple years ago, Twitter rather infamously enraged the tech community by restricting its access to the company’s API. Now, Williams told Isaacson, the company has recognized this move as a mistake. “We had an API really early and we didn’t have a platform and people conflated those things and people built apps or clients for Twitter or things that were ostensibly on top of Twitter,” he said. “But it wasn’t a well-designed platform and it didn’t create a win for developers or users or the company. It was a strategic error that we had to wind down, and the company [received] a lot of critiques for that.”
Williams also gave a couple teasers as to what the company is looking for in their new CEO (Dick Costolo recently vacated the position), saying the company needs “An exceptional leader … who can make things happen.” But there may be such a thing as too many cooks in the Twitter kitchen, as the board is filled with ex-leadership, including Costolo, Williams (an ex-CEO of Twitter himself), and Jack Dorsey, the current interim CEO. Regardless of who ultimately lands the job, Williams said that it would be critical for him or her to “see the potential of the platform and … [decide] what to focus on, aligning the organization toward that purpose.”
While Williams’ conversation with Isaacson was generally candid, he did remain tight-lipped on what users and investors could expect product-wise from Twitter in the coming months. Though he confirmed that “new products and new sources of revenue coming,” he then quickly shut the conversation down, laughing, “I’ve already said too much.”
So stay true, Twitter loyalists. The tides may finally be turning in your favor.
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