Global Investor

Tweet goodbye

Meera Siva | Updated on November 22, 2014

Vivian Schiller, head of news at Twitter, is the latest in a string of high-profile departures from the company in the last year. Since early 2014, the company has lost many executives, including its heads of product, engineering and design and COO.

Giving notice

Schiller, who joined Twitter in January 2014, announced her resignation through three tweets. “Stepping down from Twitter so new global media lead can reorganise as she sees fit. Wish everyone at twitter nothing but best.” In the second tweet, she thanked two former executives. They were part of the long string of resignations at Twitter, a few months after its IPO in November 2013. Schiller thanked journalists and news organisations in the third tweet. Twitter hired her for the strong ties she had with major US news organisations. This was part of the company’s strategy to become indispensable to newsrooms and journalists.

Schiller’s earlier stints with NBC News and NPR, however, were steeped in controversies. At NPR, the issues were related to two politically inflammatory topics, which ultimately led to her exit. At NBC, she closed down a web site and was criticised for turning it off abruptly without providing access to archives. Prior to NPR, she was with the New York Times website.

Growth concerns

Schiller and other executive exits aside, Twitter is also grappling with the issue of low user growth. The company had an ambitious target of reaching 400 million monthly active users by the end of 2013, but has only so far reached around 271 million active users. That’s small compared to Facebook’s 1.3 billion users. Twitter added just 30 million monthly users in the first half of the year. The company may be eyeing acquisitions to add users, given it is sitting on a $3.5-billion cash pile.

Published on October 12, 2014

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