Jack Dorsey hasn't been shy about shaking things up at Twitter (TWTR). Clearly, what the company was doing under his predecessor, Dick Costolo, wasn't working well, as user growth began to sputter well before Dorsey took over last summer. Several executives left quickly after Dorsey's appointment as CEO, and the Twitter co-founder made the decision to lay off hundreds of employees late last year.
Now, several more key executives are parting ways with the company. Product head Kevin Weil, engineering chief Alex Roetter, VP of human resources Skip Schipper, head of global media Katie Stanton, and Vine's general manager Jason Toff all announced their resignations the same weekend.
This mass exodus can be seen in two ways: either what those guys were doing wasn't working, so it's good they're gone and Dorsey and Co. can start fresh; or Dorsey and COO Adam Bain's management isn't sitting well with top executives, causing the company's best talent to leave.
Kevin Weil was promoted to product head in October of 2014, the sixth man to hold the position in five years. At the same time, Alex Roetter took over as head of engineering. Together the two accelerated the product roadmap.
New features like Moments -- which Stanton was deeply involved with -- have generated a lot of excitement among management, which believes they will reinvigorate user growth and engagement. The problem is that those metrics are lagging indicators of whether Weil and Roetter are doing a good job. Management won't know if a product is a success until several months after it's released.
Meanwhile, Twitter has been forging new relationships with media companies, led by Stanton. Previously in charge of international market development, Stanton was instrumental in getting media companies on board with Moments and pushing television, sports, music, and entertainment businesses to engage more with fans on Twitter. Again, these initiatives can only be measured months after implementation.
So, judging Weil, Roetter, and Stanton's performances after just one year in their positions is nearly impossible, but it seems like par for the course for Twitter's product chief to leave after just a few months.
Early Twitter investor Chris Sacca praised Weil and Roetter's work last summer when he was petitioning for Jack Dorsey to be named permanent CEO. Jack Dorsey also noted that the two were instrumental in scaling Twitter's ad business from $0 to $2 billion in his farewell tweet. Indeed, these two were very valuable to Twitter's operations, and it's unlikely Twitter will be able to find replacements that measure up to their achievements and efficiency in rolling out new products.
Heard through the Vine
Vine boss Jason Toff is also leaving the Twitter family to rejoin Google, this time to work on VR. He previously worked at Google as part of YouTube. Toff had been in charge at Vine since 2014.
Under Toff, Vine changed its focus from users to total audience, echoing its parent company's total audience strategy. That said, unique Vine viewers grew to more than 200 million per month during Toff's tenure. That's an increase from the 100 million unique viewers Twitter reported at the end of 2014.
Vine represents a potential growth avenue for Twitter with video, but the company hasn't done much to grow the user base or monetize it. It simply integrated Vine videos into user's timelines, a strategy it recently repeated with Periscope.
The exodus of these five executives indicate something is going wrong at Twitter. Considering its lack of user growth over the last few quarters, we already knew that. The question investors must ask themselves is whether these departures will ultimately benefit the company.
Certainly something needs to change in order for Twitter to get back on track. Whether these execs' replacements will prove more valuable in the long run is unknowable. Again, the lagging indicators of product changes and user reactions to those changes makes it hard to tell how well the replacements are performing. Therefore, investors should stay away from making sudden transactions on Twitter stock over the next few quarters as new hires get their feet wet.