Mediante un rimbalzo di feed, mi sono imbattuto in questo lungo, ponderoso e documentato post (più un saggio, direi) di Fortune sullo stato dell'arte di Twitter, curato da Jessi Hempel.
Oltre che un compendio di storia della stra-nota piattaforma di micro-blogging, il post analizza anche lo stato attuale di salute del network, mettendone in risalto alcuni segnali forse non troppo confortanti.
L'inizio del pezzo mette subito le cose in chiaro, in quanto al clima che circola in questi giorni nell'azienda:
"There's no shortage of drama at Twitter these days: Besides the CEO shuffles, there are secret board meetings, executive power struggles, a plethora of coaches and consultants, and disgruntled founders"
e tutto questo sembra
"[...] have contributed to a growing perception that innovation has stalled and management is in turmoil at one of Silicon Valley's most promising startups".
Anche certi trend ed atteggiamenti sembrano essere mutati:
"Just two years ago Twitter was the hottest thing on the web. But in the past year U.S. traffic at Twitter.com [...] has leveled off. Nearly half the people who have Twitter accounts are no longer active on the network [...] It has been months -- an eternity in Silicon Valley -- since the company rolled out a new product that excited consumers. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg used to watch developments at Twitter obsessively; now he pays much less attention to the rival service"
Uno dei problemi principali appare essere
"[...] a board and top executive team that don't always appear to have control of its wide-ranging cast of characters, including founders who have attained near-celebrity status [...] headstrong and divisive managers, and investors used to getting their way".
Ad esser sinceri
"Twitter's founders didn't set out to build the next Facebook: Consumers turned it into a social phenomenon and kept signing on to see what it was about"
"Unsure of what they'd created, the founders basically turned Twitter over to its users -- initially a bunch of techie early adopters -- and watched what they did with it. The result was a bit of anarchy: The crowd developed an unintuitive language all its own (the hashtags and retweets and other abbreviations all came from users); an ecosystem of independent "dashboard" companies such as TweetDeck and HootSuite emerged to help consumers manage their Twittering -- a development that would prove to be a mixed blessing for Twitter".
"When [Williams] took over as CEO in 2008, Williams faced huge challenges. The company had just 20 employees, almost entirely engineers, and during the first six months of his tenure, Twitter jumped from 5 million registered accounts to 71.3 million"
"migrated Twitter to a new data center and revamped its technology; moved headquarters as the company grew, landing in offices in downtown San Francisco; made six small acquisitions; and hired another 280 employees, including most of the current management team".
Però Twitter ha una particolarità rispetto ad altri "social-cosi":
"[...] you have to develop a feel for using Twitter. Many users never do, signing up to try it and then giving up. But for those who commit, it's addictive, entertaining, and cool. It's emerging as a real-time news reader, offering users a sampling of what's going on in the world. [...] to the uninitiated, the service is a bit of a mystery"
e questo fcontribuisce al fatto che il numero di utenti sia solo una parte (piccola?) della capacità di fare soldi:
"[...] garnering new users and boosting traffic to Twitter's website are only one piece of the moneymaking equation. Many believe that Twitter's search results, which increasingly show up on other sites, are its real jewels. For anyone striving to see events as they unfold, there are few better places to turn".
Per quelle "strane bestie" però che sono gli investitori pubblicitari, purtroppo, Twitter non è (ancora?) così appetibile come potrebbe; infatti
"[...] advertisers have limited options on Twitter. There are ad-sponsored tweets that appear at the top of search results [...] and relate to the nature of the inquiry. [...] Then there are promoted accounts, basically paid ads that sit in the right-hand corner of Twitter.com. Promoted Trends, the most expensive option of the bunch, can appear just once in a day and occur when a company pays to place its topic [...] among the most organically popular topics".
Tutto questo non vuol dire che la piattaforma non sia appetibile per gli altri giganti del settore; infatti
"Last fall Microsoft, Google, and Facebook itself all considered buying the company. Microsoft never made an offer, according to sources, but Facebook is believed to have offered $2 billion for Twitter, and Google, by far the most serious, offered as much as $10 billion"
nè che il management board non sia all'altezza, visto che annovera, accanto ai padri fondatori Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey e Dick Costolo personalità del calibro di
"[...] venture capitalists Peter Fenton, Fred Wilson, and Bijan Sabet, former Netscape CFO Peter Currie, former Doubleclick CEO David Rosenblatt, and Flipboard founder Mike McCue"
Ora, mentre tutti questi personaggi
"[...] disagree about a lot of things, according to many sources, [...] they all agreed not to sell Twitter"
Ma, e qui il mistero si un pochino più fitto, la company ha racimolato ulteriori 200 milioni di USD da Kleiner Perkins.
Che c'è di strano? Nulla, se non fosse per il fatto che
"[...]Kleiner partner John Doerr [...] is a board member at Google, which is a potential acquirer of Twitter, and a source of future employees".
E quando si tenne il board a gennaio, proprio Doerr fece capolino, senza sapere chi lo avesse invitato e senza che nessuno lo eispedisse a casa :-)
Come si dice in questi casi: chi vivrà, vedrà!
[Photo credits: Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], attraverso Wikimedia Commons]