If you’ve been wondering who will replace Twitter’s departing head of product, Kevin Weil, now you have your answer.
Or, put another way, Jack Dorsey.
Twitter revealed on Monday that the company will not appoint a direct successor to Weil, who is one of the five high-level execs that are leaving the company. Weil has overseen Twitter’s product since October 2014, a period during which the company’s user growth has basically ground to a halt.
Twitter said it was not hiring a new head of product, confirming a report first reported by the Wall Street Journal. And in a tweet on Sunday night, CEO Dorsey noted that the consumer product group will now fall under CTO Adam Messinger, as will the engineering group.
The move will unite the product and engineering teams, which might help Twitter move faster. But Messinger has a lot of other stuff on his plate, and according to the WSJ, is known for his expertise in back-end engineering infrastructure, rather than consumer product vision.
That would seem to leave Twitter at something of a disadvantage in exactly the part of its business that needs the most help.
Fortunately, Twitter already has a famous tech product guru on staff.
Dorsey was one of the creators of Twitter. He also created Square, the digital payments company which popularised the credit card swipers used by every coffee shop and food truck.
One of the main rationales for Dorsey’s return to Twitter as CEO was that he would be able to inject the bold product innovation that has been so sorely lacking at the company. And as a founder of the company, the thinking went, he would also have the moral authority to execute fundamental changes to the core product, whether that be abandoning the 140-character limit, the timeline’s reverse-chronological order or something even bigger.
In other words, there’s no need for a dedicated product boss anymore, since that’s basically Dorsey’s strength. In fact, having a dedicated head of product boss might create more internal confusion and problems, given that Dorsey is really the company’s product person.
Dorsey has his hands full, as he’s also the CEO of Square. That doesn’t leave him as much time to focus on the product as someone doing that as their only job.
So Twitter is taking a gamble by putting all its product chips on the very thinly stretched Dorsey. But that die was already the cast when Twitter hired a CEO that had another full time job.
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