Twitter’s epic bust up with developers several years ago was one of the bigger bumps in the company’s rocky history, so now, as the social media company is working to reboot the business under new CEO Jack Dorsey, it kicked off its big developer event with a key message: an apology for Twitter’s past behavior and a commitment to try to make it better.
In reference to the years when Twitter first courted developers, only to then cut off certain features as it grew and tried to find its own business and platform feet, Dorsey said: “Our relationship with developers got confusing, unpredictable. We want to come to you today and apologize for the confusion.”
The big question is: can developers trust Twitter this time?
Dorsey went on to talk about how the company, turning over a new leaf, now wants “to make sure we have a great relationship with our developers… that we’re fulfilling and serving everyone’s needs….We need to have a better conversation with our developer community, with everyone in this room… We can’t stand alone. We need your help.”
Of course Twitter is not riding as high as it once was. Just today, the company was downgraded by Morgan Stanley, which cited limited engagement and limited user growth, and concerns about the company’s advertising business: the downgrade sent the stock down nearly 7 percent in morning trading.
Unsurprising, then, Dorsey’s decision to dial back that relationship to a better time, when Twitter had the support of developers to grow rather than an adversarial relationship.
Going forward, the company says it will improve its communication with developers. “We want to make sure that we have a great relationship with our developers, an open and honest relationship with our developers,” he said.
He even called out some of the apps that have been the subject of some of Twitter’s ire, and some of its more controversial actions. “We have a responsibility to continue to power organizations who want to bring transparency like Politwoops,” Dorsey said. (Recall that Twitter once shut down this account, which tracked politicians’ deleted tweets, for ToS violations.)
He ended with an invitation: “Tweet at us what you’d like to see at Twitter. Tweet with the hashtag #helloworld, we will take all of this information and input to make decisions over time to make sure the platform is something you’re proud of and will use more and more,” Dorsey said. “It won’t happen overnight, but I’m convinced we’ll make the right decisions.”
Let’s see if Twitter follows through.