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Twitter, Inc. Just Beefed Up Its Home Page

By Daniel Sparks – Feb 3, 2016 at 9:00AM

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But it's not the feature itself that stands out -- it's the way the company rolled it out.

It's been a volatile and unfortunate ride for Twitter (TWTR -1.35%) investors over the past 12 months. Shares are down 60% during this period. The main reason for the market's negative sentiment during this time has been the social network's slowing user growth. Making matters worse, the company hasn't done much to reverse this pattern. But Twitter's most recent move to help the service appeal to new users may signal the arrival of the faster-moving, more daring tech company investors have been waiting for.

Twitter launches a logged-out experience for mobile
The new feature, which it rolled out on Tuesday, is simply a mobile homepage experience that leans on the platform's strengths: live updates, conversations, and developing stories.

In a blog post announcing the feature, Twitter said:

Before today, you could see individual Tweets but it was hard to discover stories and conversations happening on Twitter without signing in. Now, you can check out a news story as it unfolds, dive into the play-by-play discussions around a game, and then come back again to see that exchange between two rappers everyone's been talking about. It's real-time and straight from the source, just like the Twitter experience for those who log in.

Twitter hopes its logged-out experience on its home page appeals to website visitors who don't have an account. The company says that over 500 million people visit Twitter every month "to see what's happening around the world." This figure is well above its 320 million monthly active users. 

The company is aiming for logged-out experiences to boost ad revenue by monetizing the experience. But Twitter also hopes it can engage potential users and eventually get them to sign up.

This adds to the company's growing list of features aimed at getting new users. Key features aimed at attracting or retaining new users last year include its Instant Timeline and its Moments product.

Why this move could signal a new Twitter
Beyond the feature itself, what was telling was the extent in which it rolled out. The company introduced the mobile timeline to 23 countries -- a far more aggressive launch than the snail's pace of its refreshed desktop homepage unveiled last year, which launched last year and was only available in the U.S. and Japan until this week. Also supporting the case that the company may be executing more rapidly, Twitter simultaneously made its desktop homepage available in these same 23 countries on Tuesday.

Twitter's homepage for logged-out users on desktop. Image source: Twitter.

So far, Twitter has developed a reputation for being slow to execute on new features and on the evolution of its platform. But Twitter's new CEO, Jack Dorsey, has said he wants to change this.

Dorsey specifically emphasized its plans to speed up its pace during the most recent earnings call. 

[W]e'll continue to increase our pace of execution and ship faster and ship more meaningful things as we continue to really simplify what we're working on and really making sure that we have a small, nimble team focused on the right things.

While its notable that Twitter seems to be moving a bit faster, there's nothing here yet that changes the story for investors. The company will need to prove it can execute more rapidly on a range of features and changes over a longer period of time before we can confirm that a much-needed shift in its culture toward faster and more meaningful innovation is finally underway.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends 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.

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