Twitter has a new head of product who barely uses the product

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.

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.

- Via: Jack Dorsey (Twitter)
- Source: Yes Inc.

Comments

He was probably too busy doing his job to waste time on Twitter.

Almost all of his tweets are retweets of various people, so he likely used it as a news feed rather than actively using it. No one is "too busy" for twitter. If you use it efficiently it’s still one of the fastest ways to get news.

No one is "too busy" for twitter

I am

But you had time to read this article and post that comment?

"news" in quotations, please. I hope you understand that the multiple articles on this very sight for which you moderate, are explicit in blaming the speed and lack of vetting as a main reason why Twitter is exactly the wrong place to get actual news.

Makes sense to me. One of the big problems with Twitter is actual user engagement. Who better to attempt to fix that problem than a person who is emblematic of it?

Not to excuse Twitter – because they have a pretty bad history of hiring execs that don’t use/understand the product – but just because you don’t tweet doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t use Twitter.

I’m a Twitter addict but I almost never tweet from my personal account. I’m mostly a read-only user. But that doesn’t stop me from understanding and valuing the product.

I took a look at @kcoleman’s follows and it seems like a fairly up-to-date, relevant, and curated list of users so maybe he’s in the same boat.

Also, there’s always the possibility that he has other secret accounts. For example, I run a humour parody account that has thousands of followers. It’s fun. But nobody would know it’s mine.

To add, most "regular" people have no reason to tweet. And I’d argue that they shouldn’t. It’s just pointless noise. I don’t care about your HOT TAKE on the latest whatever unless you’re actually the one who caused or broke news of the whatever.

And you might argue that the CEO of a tech company is not "regular" people. I would argue otherwise because any interesting news about the tech company (or whatever) would probably come from the company’s Twitter account instead.

Was about to say… Most of my twitter usage is just reading through my timeline and he follows a couple more people than I do.

Granted, I still do have a lot more tweets despite not having much reason to tweet (turns out I do have more followers than I would have guessed, probably mostly bots though…), most are likely to be replies but still.

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.

I think this shows a little bit of a misunderstanding of how these jobs work. You don’t have to use a product to know how it could be better – it certainly helps, but actually analyzing how other people use the product – in the aggregate – will always be a more valuable insight.

It’s sort of like saying "it didn’t bode well for newspaper that the reporter who was writing a story about the different uses of corn had never been a corn farmer." It might help if the writer was a farmer, but it certainly isn’t necessary.

While I agree with your opinion, I don’t think that corn analogy works.

In your analogy, it’d be more like hiring a newspaper reporter who had written about corn farming to improve harvesting techniques at a specific farm (though that still isn’t a perfect analogy since this guy already worked in the same sector). I’d say a reporter probably wouldn’t be the right person to hire for that.

Well, if he didn’t use Twitter much, he basically represents Twitter’s target audience for expansion. Hiring someone who loves Twitter and thinks it’s perfect as is wouldn’t necessarily be better. I’m not seeing the correlation between his Twitter use and his ability to do his job.

Many uses use the twitter but do not tweet to people. The reason that Coleman did not tweet was probably because he was busy with his work. Its not like the chief of a tech company will tweet people to increase the sales of his product. This is done by the marketers with the official product accounts.

So if Twitter’s Product VP doesn’t last more than a year, who’s Voldemort here?

I’m the marketing, art, and communications director where I work . . . I don’t use facebook, youtube, twitter, etc etc in my personal life – but I do it for a living. I use these services everyday, but anyone who looks me up finds that I’m not on any of them.

You don’t need to use twitter to understand twitter. It’s just a channel like any other.

I’ve been a Verge reader for almost 5 years — Vox, I’d like a VP role please.

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