2016 has certainly not been the Year of Twitter. Product shutdowns and layoffs followed an attempted corporate sale, which ended with all parties walking away from the conversation. It looked like the year was going to end on that note, but then Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain left the company, and he was not the first.
Before Bain, VP of Product Kevin Weil left the company, the sixth person to walk away from that post since 2007. With that much turnover in the person who decides the direction of the product, it raises an interesting question about why the company is having trouble. Is Twitter flailing because they can't find someone who understands the idea of the product, or is the upper management so overbearing that the director is incapable of directing the product?
It is likely that we are going to find out soon, as Twitter announced this week that they have purchased their next VP of Product through the acquisition of a startup. The company, Yes Inc., produced apps that, like Twitter, enforce a random and unnecessary content limitation. That is not why Twitter purchased them, however, as the founder of Yes, Keith Coleman, will be Twitter's VP of Product effective Monday morning.
Coleman worked at Google before leaving to found Yes. Twitter is hoping to leverage that knowledge, and the success of a company in a similar space, to drive success in the position. This will mean that he and his employees will no longer be able to focus their energies on their previous product offerings, and within the next few weeks, Yes's products will shut down.
It will be interesting to see if, over time, Coleman is able to take his previous experiences and use them to bring some sort of focus to Twitter, possibly even forcing the company to decide who they are and what it is that their product does. On the other hand, Twitter may always become part of the Disney behemoth, so it may not matter.