Twitter’s ceaseless search for someone to tell the social network where to go and how to get there has come to a momentary pause. The company announced today, on Twitter of course, that it has hired startup founder Keith Coleman as vice president of product.
Coleman, according to his Twitter bio, is the CEO of Yes Inc., a relatively unknown Bay Area startup responsible for two social apps called Frenzy and WZD. Frenzy offers a way to make quick plans with friends, while WZD is a blend Facebook and Snapchat that lets you share what you’re doing with friends by posting photos and videos layered with emoji and text. Because Yes is joining Twitter alongside Coleman, both apps are being shut down, according to a note posted to Yes’ website. Prior to Yes, Coleman was a product lead at Google overseeing services like Gmail and its chat companion.
The head product job at Twitter, known for its short-term residencies, has been officially vacant since June, when former product head Jeff Seibert returned to his role of running the company’s developer platform. Ed Ho, now the VP of engineering, held the interim role while the company sought out a full-time replacement. Prior to Seibert, Kevin Weil ran product at Twitter before he resigned in January and joined Instagram.
The more interesting tidbit, however, is Coleman’s Twitter history — it’s pretty much nonexistent. Despite being the chief of a tech startup, Coleman has tweeted just 143 times. That would be reasonable if he hadn’t joined Twitter in June of 2007. In fact, there’s about a seven-year gap in his timeline, starting in November of 2007 and lasting until a retweet of The Verge’s own Walt Mossberg in 2014. It’s followed by a second retweet and then another two tweets in the entirety of 2015.
what?— Keith Coleman (@kcoleman) July 14, 2007
Coleman is more active now, not surprisingly. It’s likely he’s been more engaged with Twitter in the run-up to taking the job. Yet it doesn’t bode well for Twitter that the new pilot of its product ambitions doesn’t have much of a history on Twitter. The company is increasingly turning its eye to video as it struggles to make money and grow its user base, including its Periscope live-streaming platform and a number of TV-focused initiatives to turn the Twitter timeline into a place to hangout and discuss sports and entertainment. Its core challenge, however, is getting people who’ve never signed up — or those who, like Coleman, don’t really use it that much — to engage more.
Neither of Yes, Inc.’s apps seem to spell out exactly what the company plans to do in the future, or how the startup it just acquihired to get its hands on a new product chief will influence future Twitter updates. But there is always hope that Coleman will be the product VP that lasts, at least longer than the one-year tenure his predecessors have established.
Twitter’s head of product continues to have the life expectancy of a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) January 24, 2016