If you follow the stock market, you may know that Twitter's (NYSE:TWTR) stock is struggling. For example, in late 2013, the company closed an amazing first day of trading with a market capitalization of $24.4 billion, and subsequently ran up as high as $40 billion. As of the time of this writing, the company's market capitalization is $24 billion, as the company has failed to impress investors.
The knock against Twitter, whether right or wrong, is the company is an unfocused, operationally deficient entity. And while that's not totally true, as the company did grow revenue 74% year on year in the last reported quarter, in the rough-and-tumble financial markets, perception is reality. In the end, this [mis]perception ended up costing CEO Dick Costolo his job, with CFO Jack Dorsey taking over for Costolo on an interim basis while the company searches for a permanent CEO.
Unfortunately for long-term investors, Twitter's CEO search could not be any more "Twitter-like," and actually adds to the perception that Twitter is lacking leadership. And while Costolo and Dorsey are partially at fault, Twitter's investors decidedly deserve blame, as well.
Two letters, two different tones
Perhaps the final straw for Costolo was a nearly 9,000-word missive from large shareholder Chris Sacca. That letter, entitled "What Twitter Can Be," is mostly supportive of Twitter's management, but blames management for "failing to tell its own story."
Sacca goes on to give prescripts for improving and growing the service after clearly stating that he's "not an activist investor." The piece spread like wildfire throughout the blogosphere, and Costolo was out of a job two weeks later.
So it was somewhat surprising when Sacca penned a somewhat patronizing follow-up regarding the company's transition plan. Building upon the gentle criticism of failing to tell Twitter's story, the new letter referred to the transition statements as "sloppy and confusing." And while he has a point that the transition has not gone smoothly, his letter draws attention to the failures, making it hard for Twitter to quickly move forward and change its narrative.
Let's remember that this is a transition process... as in transitory. In the event Twitter exceeds Wall Street's forecasts for a few quarters, these comments will be forgotten. In my personal opinion, the sentiments of this letter should have been expressed directly and privately to Costolo and Dorsey.
Another large shareholder has a negative opinion... or maybe not
In another weird turn of events, its seems one more Twitter investor has something to say about the transition plan... or maybe not. Early reports are that Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal did not want founder Jack Dorsey to return to the company. In an interview with the Financial Times, the 5% stakeholder encouraged Dorsey to remain at Square, and not return to Twitter -- a company he founded.
However, very soon after the comment was made, the prince had an apparent change of heart. Writing to Reuters, the prince expressed support: "[I] know Dorsey well and that as one of the founders who knows the company very well he would bring the needed continuity. And I will add now that Mr. Dorsey wish to take on the CEO role, I would support him." And while the situation was resolved quickly, it was simply more unwanted attention that the company doesn't need at this time.
In the end, these public statements questioning management -- or, in Sacca's case, management's actual choice of words -- have the potential to harm the company more than it helps. And that's especially true with a company in transition, and one with a narrative of poor execution. Twitter's transition plan has been rocky, but don't blame it all on Costolo and Dorsey.
Jamal Carnette owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Twitter. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.