I was on CNBC on Monday talking about who would be the next CEO of Twitter. On that hit, I explain why Adam Bain is the next CEO. I thought I would expand upon my thoughts on Twitter in this 2,000 word essay, because it seems no one else has any thoughts.
At the end of the day, Wall Street ran Twitter’s CEO out despite my piece explaining why this would be a mistake back in January.
[ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): http://ctt.ec/Y4lTQ ]
Technically Dick resigned, and is leaving next month, ending his five-year run as the CEO of one of the five greatest Internet companies ever created — Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Amazon lead that group.
Here is what I would do if I were CEO of Twitter. Or, said another way, here is what Adam should do:
Explain to Wall Street explicitly that Twitter is Not Facebook
Wall Street keeps comparing Twitter to Facebook, hoping that Twitter will become less complex, less intimidating, and more accessible to common folk. These analysts on Wall Street are wickedly smart when it comes to grouping and analyzing things, but in the case of Facebook and Twitter, this is a huge mistake.
Twitter’s users, the ones who are logged in and contributing content to the service, are the politicians, celebrities, business leaders, and journalists in the world who drive massive consumption of culture by passive, non-logged in users.
On Facebook, everyone is the celebrity of their own lives, which is exceptionally boring to everyone on the planet, except maybe the dozen or so people who are part of that life. That’s why, on Facebook, the trending stories in your feed are birth announcements, and on Twitter, it’s what you’re going to read in the New York Times and TMZ tomorrow.
Steady Growth is Good Growth & The Reddit Paradox
Twitter has grown exactly 5-10% quarter over quarter since inception. The fact that it has not tanked, been disintermediated, or otherwise copied is due to the small miracle of network effects and Dick’s steady hand.
While the analysts might want to see dramatic action to run Twitter from 300m to 1b users, there is a strong case that doing so would drive away Twitter’s already brilliant community.
This is the so-called “Reddit Paradox” in full effect: live by your core community, die by your core community. In Reddit’s case, they’ve built a huge, engaged community of primarily highly intelligent, technically savvy, and frequently precocious boys (it’s mainly male) to a scale no one believed would ever be possible — and then you put the most polarizing female figure in Silicon Valley in charge of it! In the middle of the highest profile sexism case in our lifetimes!
How is that working out for Reddit? Can Ellen Pao convince a large portion (but not all) of the core users, who have defined Reddit for the past decade, to stop their gallows humor in the comments, their politically incorrect pugnaciousness, their hilarious-and-sometimes-scary criticism of people and their obsession with p0rn?
Sure she can!
[ insert Facepalm meme here saying “Ellen Pao, the fearless leader Reddit wants!” ]