After being “exiled”, Jack Dorsey has officially returned to Twitter to head up product development – a move being widely hailed. The question is whether Dorsey can save Twitter, which appears to have lost its way despite having close to 200 million users.
Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter, returns to a company still searching for a viable business model. At the same time, Twitter doesn’t seem to be sure whether the army of developers using its API are friends or foes.
Recent changes in how developers should use the API struck many as a move of desperation because it seemed counter-intuitive given how the work done by third-parties have played such a key role in making Twitter more useful and interesting in contrast to the ho-hum, no-frills approach embraced by Twitter itself.
Maybe Dorsey’s return will help Twitter find its mojo. Perhaps it will bring Twitter back to a time when innovation was a key ingredient of Twitter’s corporate DNA as opposed to user growth and the search for a business model.
If Dorsey had a check-list, it should probably include the following:
1. Make nice again with developers. Then, create an API policy that is win-win as opposed to restrictive and controlling.
2. Reignite innovation within Twitter. To be blunt, Twitter is boring when it comes to features. This explains why enthusiastic and hard-core Twitter users migrate away from Twitter.com. It has been disappointing to see Twitter watch from the sidelines while developers do all kinds of creative things with the API.
3. Focus on strategic acquisitions to enhance the Twitter platform. While TweetDeck has already been snapped up by Bill Gross’ UberMedia, there are many interesting start-ups (e.g. TwitPic, HootSuite) that would be good strategic fits. Maybe even provide seed capital to startups that show a lot of potential.
4. Create an advertising model that will generate revenue but, at the same time, enhance and not tarnish the user experience. Once this has been established, Twitter should aggressively launched it. It would be a different approach than Promoted Tweets, which has been cautiously unveiled – a move that suggests Twitter is uncertain about its viability.
For more on Dorsey’s return, check out GigaOm.