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As Twitter Lost Talent This Fall, It Shipped a Slew of New Features

By Maya Kosoff

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

What makes the timing of Jack Dorsey’s exit particularly interesting is that it follows several other high-profile exits at the company, but it also comes at a time when Twitter is shipping and launching an astounding number of new features — features that are expanding what Twitter is and can be.

This week, Twitter experienced something that hadn’t happened in the past six years: Jack Dorsey once again stepped down as CEO of the social network. “I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders,” he said in an internal memo that he then posted (where else?) on Twitter.

Elsewhere at Twitter, succession plans are in motion. Twitter’s CTO, Parag Agrawal, has assumed the role as CEO and has been unanimously named a member of the Board of Directors, effective immediately this week. Dorsey’s Chairman role on the board will be inherited by long-time board member and newly appointed Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor.

What makes the timing of Dorsey’s exit particularly interesting is that it follows several other high-profile exits at the company, but it also comes at a time when Twitter is shipping and launching a frankly astounding number of new features — features that are expanding what Twitter is and can be.

In recent months, Twitter has lost several other high-level and high-profile folks from its ranks, many of whom had spent years at the company. In October, Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, announced that she was leaving the company after nearly 13 years. “Saying this is a difficult decision would be an understatement. That said, it’s also the right decision,” she tweeted. “Right now, I need (and want!) to focus my time and attention on my family; equally, @twittersafety needs (and deserves!) someone who can focus on leading them.”

Paul Stamatiou, a Twitter product designer responsible for helping to design everything from Fleets to the Tweet Composer, announced last month that he was leaving after 9 years at the company to move into the crypto/web3 space.

Jen Prince, who spent about the same length of time at Twitter as Stamatiou and most recently served as its VP and Head of Global Content Partnerships, also departed at the end of last month. She’s now the Chief Commercial Officer of the Los Angeles Rams.

The fourth longterm employee to leave the company this fall, Mike Park, announced in October that after 10 years at the company he would be leaving to explore other opportunities. Most recently VP of Product, Park tweeted: “Twitter is full of genuinely good humans – past and present – whose friendship and mentorship I will always cherish. I still feel as lucky as I did the day I first walked into @TwitterNYC.”

But these employee exits don’t seem to have had any negative impact on Twitter’s ability to ship new features. As these employees were leaving, Twitter was busy rolling out a slew of new features — some rumored to have been years in the making.

In a move clearly intended to cater to its power users, Twitter launched Twitter Blue last month — a $3 monthly subscription service that buys its subscribers access to additional features, including an undo button and ad-free news articles. Twitter Blue seems intended for the 25 percent of Twitter’s user base who send 97 percent of all tweets. Its “labs” feature is like a sandbox for experimental features it plans to make available to Twitter Blue subscribers before rolling them out to a broader user base, such as the ability to pin specific chats to the top of your DM inbox.

A mix of Facebook Groups, Discord, and Reddit, Twitter’s Communities launched in September to help users tweet with others who share specific interests. Though Communities launched as invite-only, the gist is that each Twitter Community will have moderators who can set group rules and invite or remove people. Initially, Twitter invited a handful of users to create the first Communities and will let anyone apply to create their own Community on its website.

Earlier this year, in May, Twitter began rolling out its Tip Jar feature for some users. This let creators easily receive money from their followers. Then, in September, Twitter made the feature available for all mobile users — and even broadened support beyond fiat currency to crypto.

Not willing to be left out of the audio-only wave Clubhouse was briefly best known for, Twitter launched its own version, Spaces, in May to allow select users to have live audio conversations on the platform. The capability was broadened to all users in October, and it’s grown increasingly sophisticated — hosts of Twitter Spaces can now record and share their broadcasts as tweets.

It remains to be seen what Twitter looks like under new leadership, but one thing it will not be any longer is made in the image of its founders. "There's a lot of talk about the importance of a company being ‘founder-led,’” Dorsey said in his memo announcing his departure. “Ultimately I believe that's severely limiting and a single point of failure." But although he may be leaving one company he founded, Dorsey will continue to lead Square, the digital payments company he founded.

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