Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey spoke on stage with COO and CFO Anthony Noto at the Goldman Technology Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. The leaders of the social media giant reiterated Twitter’s mission as a real-time information platform and spoke of its latest accomplishments, but also talked about the challenges of growing what is already a widely-used site.
“We have a long way to go,” said Dorsey, about improving the user timeline experience and making it more relevant to its 319 million active users. Originally known as the platform for instant news coverage, the company has been experimenting with ways to make sure that the most interesting tweets are shown, whenever someone logs in. Using Twitter “still requires a ton of work to find and follow the right accounts,” he said.
Dorsey spoke of Twitter’s global influence, which has garnered significant attention lately, in part because it seems to be the U.S. President’s favorite way to communicate with the American people. There’s “a lot of dialogue about policy shifts and what’s happening in this country and around the world.”
The protests and the firestorm and of controversy reminded him of the “Arab Spring” situation, which unfolded on the platform in 2011. Dorsey is seeing “a lot of the same patterns that we saw in the Iranian revolution.”
Noto also spoke of the obstacles for monetization, claiming that Twitter is often held to a higher standard than its competition. Because the company has already become such a force in attracting ad budgets, it’s a “much higher bar to get the next dollar of revenue,” he said. Twitter recently disappointed investors with its earnings.
Twitter wants to extend beyond news and become known more for sports and entertainment. They touted some of the early successes of their video efforts, saying that they recently had 5.1 million unique viewers for the Grammy’s.
It’s been a rocky road as a public company, with Twitter seeing its shares rise and fall since its 2013 IPO. Because of the volatility, there has been regular speculation as to whether the company is an acquisition target.
Dorsey also serves as the CEO and co-founder of Square, and has faced criticism for simultaneously running two public companies. Some have suggested that it would be easier if he just focused on one.
But Dorsey’s committed to running them both and in a signal that he’s bullish on Twitter, he recently purchased $7 million in shares.
Said Dorsey, Twitter is “still the best place to get a sense of what’s going on in the world.”