Can Twitter Make It?

Courtesy of Fortune:

People outside the technology industry will be puzzled to read Erin Griffith’s outstanding article in the current issue of Fortune about Twitter.

They will learn about a company worth a “mere” $12 billion (about half its one-time value) that has more than 300 million users (a fraction of Silicon Valley’s truly successful companies, like Facebook FB 1.30% and Google GOOG 1.47% ) and that has insinuated itself into the global media dialogue (but still isn’t used by enough average folks).

Twitter TWTR -3.27% is the poor little rich kid of an entitled, success-worshiping, good-is-never-great-enough business culture. Only 10 years old, it has gone from curiosity to talking point to phenomenon to much-admired to doormat.

 Make no mistake, Twitter’s problems are real. It doesn’t make money, which isn’t okay because although its revenue is growing rapidly, its user rolls are not. It has suffered employee turnover at every level, particularly the very top. Its current CEO, Jack Dorsey, was an early chief executive who went away and came back. He has effectively grown up at Twitter, watching its rise and fall and now hoping to engineer a new rise.
There is much for any company to learn from Twitter’s mistakes. Managing expections is critical. Product development must keep pace with business growth. Believing one’s own press coverage is perilous.

And yet, there’s also much to learn from Twitter’s successes. Indeed, some are betting on Twitter’s turnaround, including former Microsoft MSFT 2.05% CEO Steve Ballmer. He has amassed a 4% stake in Twitter, and I plan to ask him about it Wednesday night when I interview him at a Brainstorm Tech dinner in San Francisco.

Can Twitter make it? I defer on that matter to Griffith, who writes that in “its decade of existence Twitter has survived enough drama and dysfunction to kill 100 startups of its size—it has taken every punch possible … and is still standing. If Dorsey can transform ‘crafty, hack-y’ Twitter into a focused, product-execution machine, the missteps of the past few years should give way to stability and growth.”

From her pen to Twitter’s product developer’s keyboards.