Kevin Weil is out at Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and expected to take his talents to Menlo Park.
The former Twitter product head is reportedly joining Instagram to run its product team. The Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)-owned company apparently liked what it saw from him even though Twitter has struggled to move the needle with its various product updates since he took over the position a little over a year ago.
Weil received a lot of praise as Twitter's product head from the likes of everyone from angel investor Chris Sacca to CEO Jack Dorsey himself -- who praised him in his efforts of taking Twitter from $0 in revenue to its current $2 billion run rate. Perhaps some of his biggest praise comes from Instagram, which has mimicked some of his product features -- such as curated Moments -- in its own product. Now, the company has the man himself.
Instagram hasn't had much trouble growing its user base. It last updated us in September, letting us know it had 400 million monthly active users. It took about the same amount of time to add its fourth hundred million users as its third -- nine months. Comparatively, Twitter took over two years to go from 200 million to 300 million users.
Of course, the next hundred million users will be harder. And the hundred million that come after that will be even harder to attract. With Facebook moving Instagram's former product head, Peter Deng, to Oculus earlier this month, the subsidiary needs someone to take the reins. With the similarities between Twitter and Instagram -- reverse chronological timeline, unilateral following mechanism, and so on -- Kevin Weil is a perfect fit.
What's more, Instagram is just getting its feet wet with advertising. It opened its ads API to businesses last summer, enabling all businesses to place advertisements on its network. Previously, Instagram limited advertising to select partners that required pre-approval before posting an ad, but now that the floodgates are opening, Instagram is seeing a ton of demand for ads. Instagram ad impressions have increased 13-fold since September, according to Brand Networks' data.
With Dorsey's endorsement of Weil's capabilities growing an ad product, Weil's skills will be put to good use as Instagram is just starting out. The changes to Instagram's ad products will mostly happen behind the scenes, as they're -- by their nature -- targeted toward businesses. But investors should be on the lookout for improvements to the photo-sharing services ad options over the next year or so, as Facebook aims to make it a real revenue source.
Not a disaster for Twitter
Although Twitter is losing one of its top talents in Weil to one of its biggest competitors, it's not a complete disaster for Twitter. While Weil's resignation (along with three other top execs at Twitter) reflects poorly on what management is doing over at Twitter, Twitter already has a pretty good product guy. His name is Jack Dorsey, and he's the co-founder and CEO of the company.
COO Adam Bain will be sharing product responsibilities with CTO Adam Messinger (revenue products and consumer products, respectively) after Weil's departure. But Dorsey is the real product visionary at the company, and he'll probably have even more leeway with product changes now that Weil is out. Dorsey is also in charge of finding a replacement for Weil. That is, if he wants one.
Twitter investors who have continued to hold shares through the turmoil of Dorsey's takeover have probably done so because they believe in Dorsey's capability to turn the company around. Now's his chance to prove it.