There were a lot of them.
Who is left at Twitter?
The social communications company has always done a poor job of establishing continuity in its most senior ranks. But even by Twitter’s standards, 2016 was a tough year for turnover.
If you look back at the company’s list of top executives on Jan. 1 of this year, 60 percent have departed. That doesn’t include a number of other key VP-level executives running important parts of Twitter’s business who also left in the past 12 months.
Twitter’s 2016 in a nutshell. http://pic.twitter.com/E43vJ8CXrG
— Seth Fiegerman (@sfiegerman) December 20, 2016
The revolving door at Twitter’s highest ranks is not just a newsy storyline. It’s a serious problem for a company trying to navigate a turnaround. A lack of continuity makes it harder to recruit other top talent, and it hinders things like product launches and media deals to have new leaders continually shuffled through the top jobs.
Most of the company’s highest-profile departures this year seem to have been voluntary — that is, people are choosing to leave Twitter.
Yes, some folks who left, like CTO Adam Messinger, had been there for a few years and this kind of movement isn’t uncommon, especially in the tech industry.
But people don’t usually leave a fantastic work environment. And it isn’t a coincidence that the Valley’s most successful companies, like Facebook and Google and Apple, have kept their executive teams largely intact over the past decade.
Stable leadership usually means direction: A clear path outlining where the company is headed, and what the expectations are for getting there. Beyond livestreaming video, Twitter doesn’t seem to have that right now. And it’s tough to win a game when you don’t know what game you’re supposed to be playing.
So how have Twitter’s top ranks changed over the past year? Here’s the list of key departures:
- Kevin Weil, VP of Product (now at Instagram)
- Katie Stanton, VP of Global Media (now at Color Genomics)
- Alex Roetter, VP of Engineering
- Jason Toff, GM of Vine (now at Google)
- Skip Schipper, VP of Human Resources (now at Yext)
- Nathan Hubbard, VP of Commerce/Global Media
- Jana Messerschmidt, VP of Business Development
- Natalie Kerris, VP of Communications
- Adam Bain, COO/Head of Sales
- Rich Alfonsi, VP of Global Online Sales (now at Stripe)
- Adam Messinger, CTO
- Josh McFarland, Product VP (now at Greylock)
Woof. That’s a long list, and one that gets extra attention given Twitter’s very public nature. (It’s tough to hide these kinds of departures when each executive tweets publicly on the way out.)
The obvious challenge for Twitter heading into 2017: Create some continuity at the top.