Vine boss, other key executives depart Twitter

CEO Jack Dorsey is trying to counter investor concerns about the company's flagging growth

jack dorsey
Jay Alabaster

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Twitter is facing the exit of key managers, even as the company struggles with flagging growth in its user base.

CEO Jack Dorsey said in a tweet late Sunday that senior vice president of engineering Alex Roetter, vice president of global media Katie Jacobs Stanton, senior vice president of product Kevin Weil, and Brian Schipper, vice president of human resources were quitting the company.

“All four will be taking some well-deserved time off. I’m personally grateful to each of them for everything they’ve contributed to Twitter and our purpose in the world,” wrote Dorsey in the message.

Jason Toff, general manager of video-sharing app Vine, also announced in a Twitter message that he was leaving Vine to join Google to work on virtual reality.

Dorsey said Roetter and Weil had during their over five years tenure with the company scaled the ads product and engineering teams from generating near-zero revenue to an over-US$2 billion run rate it has now, while Stanton helped expand content operations and started international offices such as in Japan, the U.K. and Ireland. Schipper had scaled recruiting and HR functions globally, Dorsey said.

Earlier news outlets reported that in a shakeout in top positions at the company, Roetter, Stanton, Weil and Toff were leaving the company. At least one of them was asked to leave, according to The New York Times.

A Twitter spokeswoman said the company had nothing to add beyond Dorsey’s message, which was in response to what he described as “inaccurate press rumors.”

COO Adam Bain will be taking over temporarily additional responsibilities  including for revenue-related product teams, the media group and the HR team, Dorsey said. CTO Adam Messinger will take charge of “all of engineering and consumer product, design and research, user services, and Fabric into one group,” he said. “And I will be partnering with him day and night to make sure we are building the right experiences.”

A Twitter co-founder,  Dorsey stepped in as interim CEO in July to replace Dick Costolo. Dorsey, who is also CEO at mobile payments company Square, has since been also named CEO of Twitter, raising questions as to whether he can handle both jobs effectively.

In October last year, the company’s board approved a restructuring and reduction in workforce of up to 336 employees, or about 8 percent of its global workforce. The restructuring was said to be part of an overall plan to “organize around the Company’s top product priorities and drive efficiencies throughout the Company.”

In a bid to attract more users, Twitter has introduced new features including Moments, which stitches together related tweets on key topics for users, and replaced the star button with a heart button for users to like tweets. Dorsey has hinted that the company may also allow users to go beyond the current 140-character limit in its tweets. It already allows video and pictures in its tweets.

The site faced last week a severe outage that disrupted service for a large number of disappointed users, which served as an indicator of how closely tweets are linked to the culture of the Internet, but was also a reminder of many earlier failures that had frustrated users. Twitter’s monthly unique users rose 11 per cent year-on-year to 320 million in the third quarter. Its latest results are expected on Feb. 10.

News reports on Monday said Twitter would announce the appointment of a new chief marketing officer and also name new members to its board of directors.

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