Perhaps the most persistent narrative about Twitter over the years since going public is that it has lacked a vision. The Wall Street Journal outlined former CEO Dick Costolo’s struggle with defining the service to the world in 2014. Last year Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder and board member, said the company needed a CEO with “a defining vision” for the company.
Now, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey can say he delivered that vision. His comments on Twitter’s fourth quarter earnings call Wednesday evening were clearer than ever before about how he and his executive team define Twitter: “Twitter is live,” he said. “Live commentary, live conversations, and live connections.”
“Watching a live event unfold is the fastest way to understand the power of Twitter,” he added. That bodes well for Periscope, the video livestreaming app Twitter acquired last year.
Of course, Twitter’s plan to tweak its timeline from chronological to one more based on the importance of individual posts could threaten the live nature of Twitter’s fast-moving stream. But Dorsey assured listeners in the earnings call that the new algorithm, which is now available in the Twitter apps, merely surfaces the best content on Twitter, but does not diminish the “electric,” speed of the platform.
Dorsey’s vision is the best thing to come from Twitter’s quarter. The company’s financial results weren’t great: It didn’t add new users, and it missed revenue forecasts. Shares fell 3% in after hours trading. They may continue to fall— turnarounds take time.
But at least, after years of confusion, the company’s team, investors, advertisers, and users know what Twitter is all about. Its strength has been in its speed and immediacy. Now the challenge is for Dorsey, who says his top priority at the company is recruiting engineers, product managers, and designers, is to turn that strength into a success story.