Twitter Officially Names Jack Dorsey CEO -- Again

Social Network's CEO Carousel Continues to Spin

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Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter, at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July, 2015.
Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter, at the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July, 2015. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Twitter's new CEO is its old CEO, who also had been its recent interim CEO and remains the CEO of another company.

Jack Dorsey, the former Twitter CEO who helped found the company and famously published the social network's first public tweet, is officially returning to his old post, the company said Monday morning. He had been interim CEO since June, when then-CEO Dick Costolo stepped down. He continues as CEO of mobile payments company Square.

Re/code first reported last Wednesday that Twitter would name Mr. Dorsey CEO.

Mr. Dorsey's appointment finally ends months of speculation over who would ultimately get the gig, with Mr. Dorsey and Twitter revenue boss Adam Bain widely considered the frontrunners, and whether Twitter's board would rethink its earlier position that it wanted a CEO who wasn't still running another company.

With both questions answered in Mr. Dorsey's favor and Mr. Bain promoted to COO, the new question is whether Mr. Dorsey can make Twitter more palatable for normal people.

While Twitter has a global user base of 304 million people that use it every month, not including the 12 million monthly who use Twitter by text to follow accounts without registering their own, there are allegedly three times as many former users. According to one of Twitter's biggest investors, Chris Sacca, nearly 1 billion people have used Twitter and then stopped using Twitter. By comparison, Twitter's main rival Facebook counted more than 1 billion people that used its social network during a single day last month.

So what is Twitter's problem? It's not revenue, which grew 61% year-over-year in the second quarter to total $502.4 million. Twitter's problem is its product. People don't understand why they should use Twitter or how to use it, as Mr. Dorsey explained during the company's earnings call in July. "People all over the world know of the power of Twitter, but it's not clear why they should harness it themselves," he said at the time. During that same earnings call, Mr. Dorsey tried to distill an answer.

"You should expect Twitter to be as easy as looking out your window to see what's happening. You should expect Twitter to show you what's most meaningful in the world, delivered first before anyone else, straight from the source. And you should expect Twitter to keep you informed and updated throughout the day," Mr. Dorsey said.

People may already expect from Twitter much of what Mr. Dorsey outlined, save for a few important keywords, such as "easy." Using Twittter requires people to sift through an always-updating, reverse-chronological stream to find the tweets that would be of most interest to them and to do so regularly in order to keep themselves in the know.

"We've been reviewing our roadmaps to make sure we're making Twitter easier for everyone around the world," Mr. Dorsey said during a call with investors on Monday morning. "Currently the product makes people do a look of work to realize the value."

Twitter has added some product features that are designed to help. It sends out notifications when there's a tweet it calculates you might find interesting. It shows you tweets you might have missed since the last time you opened Twitter. And it's getting ready to roll out a feature called Project Lightning that organizes tweets around live events. But time will tell whether Mr. Dorsey is able to make Twitter easy enough for normal people to use, and keep using.

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UPDATE: This article has been updated to include not only Twitter's mobile and desktop users but the 12 million people who use Twitter's SMS Fast-Follower function.

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