Hardly any company has had as much influence on society in the past 10 years as Twitter. But the stock has been a flop since the IPO. How can that be?
Jack Dorsey has done a lot of things right over the past decade. As co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Square, he created two influential companies and brought them together to a market cap of just under $ 90 billion. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm on Wall Street is limited, especially on Twitter. Since the IPO 2013, the shares have lost around a third of their value. Dorsey is not alone to blame for this. He was no longer actively involved immediately before and after the IPO. But when the shares started to fall due to the management at the time, Dorsey came back as CEO in autumn 2015. This was followed by a rough roller coaster ride, in which until recently, however, positive signs could finally be seen again, the titles shot up. But then another disillusionment came.
A media revolution
One of the astonishing features of the Twitter stock slump is that a company with such great influence could not also develop successfully on the stock exchange. What started as a harmless experiment in March 2006 with Dorsey’s first tweet developed over the years into a media revolution. How central Twitter suddenly became was demonstrated, among other things, by the uprisings in North Africa when Twitter became the mouthpiece of the Arab Spring. Only a little later, the Americans felt their own version of the new Twitter policy when President Trump focused his successful election campaign on the short message service. Twitter also plays an increasingly important role outside of politics. For example, scientists communicate via this channel and thus accelerate the progress of scientific research. How can it be that the bottom line for investors is still nothing?
Reliability instead of sensation
Dorsey recently provided an answer himself. In his “Blue Sky Manifesto”, Dorsey outlined a strategy with which, in his opinion, the problems of social networks could be tackled. Although he speaks in general terms of social platforms, the suggestions undoubtedly refer to Twitter. Dorsey is targeting two key issues. On the one hand, “trolling” has to be solved. It is about the numerous actors who, through aggressive behavior and incorrect information, reduce the reliability and quality of the platform.
On the other hand, Dorsey demands better artificial intelligence to make good suggestions to users. It could not just be a matter of binding the user to Twitter with sensational headlines. Dorsey wants a healthier and more sustainable Twitter culture. And this is exactly where the worm sits in the Twitter story: The company wants to offer the user more quality and less sensation. But the bills are paid by traditional advertisers, who want more eyes and longer engagement. Exactly how Dorsey will walk this tightrope remains open.