Twitter user retention scrutinised as execs resign

By James Riches topicIcon Social Media

Two executive resignations in one day put Twitter in the spotlight

Twitter's user retention strategy has come under fire again, after two high-profile senior staff departures in the space of just a few hours last week.

Chief Operating Officer Ali Rowghani was the first to depart, tweeting that he would "cherish the memories" of his tenure with the company. Increasing Twitter's user figures was seen as a central part of his job, but this has proved a tough task since its high profile IPO in November.

Rowghani's efforts have not come close to CEO Dick Costolo's reported prediction that Twitter would hit 400 million users by the end of 2013. The actual figure was nearer 250 million 'active users' and saw Twitter's share price take a tumble from $73 dollars in December to around $36.

On the same day, Vice President of Media Chloe Sladden also stepped down. Her role was thought to involve encouraging the use of Twitter as a 'second screen' during live events, as well as creating partnerships with entertainment companies. It is rumoured that her close friendship with Rowghani may have been one reason behind her decision to step aside.

Analysts have suggested both roles were focused on user acquisition ahead of retention. Twitter has said that Rowghani will not be replaced and that his responsibilities will be reallocated to pre-existing staff members.

Senior departures a cause for concern?

These two resignations continue a trend of high profile departures since the turn of the year. Vice President of product Michael Sippey left in mid-January, while creative director Doug Bowman and engineering VP Chris Fry both quit during May.

Twitter is seemingly struggling to keep hold of its niche within the social world. The more well-established Facebook has slowly adopted many of its popular features such as hashtags and trending topics, and for many remains a simpler, more accessible experience.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn has cornered the market in 'professional' social media after cementing its place as indispensable tool for any serious jobseeker.

Newer tools such as WhatsApp and Pinterest have also arguably drawn user eyes away from Twitter, and the company is still searching for a solution to the retention problem identified by co-founder Jack Dorsey five years ago.

Kleon West, business development director at theEword, said: "A glut of senior staff departures is always going to attract attention, and Twitter's relatively poor user retention figures are undeniable. This is an issue they have been looking at for some time, and this is likely to continue as they reassess their top-level employee structure."