NEW YORK, Feb 14 — Twitter Inc Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said there’s “strength” in the social-media company remaining independent, deflecting renewed speculation that it may again be an acquisition target.
“There’s a lot of strength to our independence because we can work on every device, work through every medium,” Dorsey said yesterday at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco. “We’re not constrained by the particular whims of one platform versus another.”
Twitter shares, which rose 8.1 per cent at yesterday’s close in New York, jumped on several trading days last month on takeover speculation. In a January note to investors, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield predicted that Twitter will be acquired this year, saying it has become too valuable to remain independent. Reports of acquisition talks regarding the microblogging service first emerged in 2016, with potential suitors including Walt Disney Co and Alphabet Inc’s Google.
Twitter has made significant improvements since those talks fell apart without a deal. The company’s shares have more than doubled in the past year, driven by stronger financial performance and changes to the app that are bringing users back to the platform more frequently. Earlier this month, San Francisco-based Twitter reported its first revenue growth in four quarters and its first real profit.
Amid the positive momentum, Chief Operating Officer Anthony Noto announced his departure, and the company didn’t name a successor, leaving investors questioning Dorsey’s ability to juggle his role at Twitter with the CEO position at Square Inc. At the conference, Dorsey said he manages both jobs with the support of strong teams at each company.
“I have gotten to a much more steady state where I can be less reactive to things that happen,” Dorsey said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without strength of the teams around me.”
Over the past year, Twitter has focused on making the service easier to use. Dorsey admitted that many new people who come to Twitter are “disappointed” with their experiences because they have trouble finding topics they’re interested in. To address this, Dorsey said Twitter is focused on using artificial intelligence to personalise timelines and identify content that’s relevant to individual users. Twitter is trying to get away from being considered a social network, Dorsey said, focusing on the real-time nature of the platform that differentiates it from rivals.
Despite reaching profitability and stemming sales declines, Twitter has been berated by lawmakers and users for being slow to recognise how Russia-linked accounts — including automated bots — influenced content on its platform around the 2016 US presidential election. Dorsey said he’s often asked why Twitter didn’t act on the bot problem earlier. “Our infrastructure wasn’t in place where we could act faster, but now we can,” he said. “It’s also about prioritising.” — Bloomberg