Dick Costolo On User Growth: Twitter “Will Reach Many More People” In 2014

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo answered repeated questions this afternoon about the company’s user growth. His big point seemed to be that (despite what appears to be a decreasing number of new users joining the service), “We feel very well-positioned for growth,” and the company “will reach many more people” this year.

For one thing, Costolo offered some justification for the 7 percent quarter-over-quarter drop in timeline views, which Twitter provides as a measure of how much content users are consuming. He suggested that some of the user experience changes that Twitter made recently, such as threaded conversations, have reduced the number of timelines that a user needs to load.

At the same time, Costolo argued that each timeline view is actually becoming more valuable — something that’s certainly true from the perspective of ad revenue.

Analysts asked if there were similar mitigating factors in terms of Twitter’s monthly active users (a number that only grew 4 percent quarter-over-quarter), but Costolo didn’t mention any. Instead, he suggested that until last year, Twitter’s growth was “viral and organic.” In other words, “growth was something that happened to us,” rather than something it actively pursued. However, starting in the final quarter of 2013, Costolo said Twitter has been introducing more features to increase user engagement. He added that the early results are promising, so the company plans to continue introducing more features in areas like new user on-boarding, content discovery, and one-on-one conversations.

Ultimately, Costolo said there’s a “collection of these things that we want to do over the arc of the entire product,” which together will “develop the change in the slope of the growth curve” that the company is hoping for.

Another analyst asked if Twitter might consider releasing a variety of different apps (something that Facebook seems to be doing). Costolo replied that, rather stealing users from each other’s apps, a successful social app “carves out a use case and tries to do that job better than anyone else.” He suggested that as long as Twitter stays focused on that idea, he doesn’t need to have “any particular religion” on a strategy of one app versus multiple apps.