As Twitter appears to be making its way to compete with Clubhouse and Substack, one wonders if the beleaguered social media company is finally ready to move beyond its terrible track record of seizing opportunities.
The pace of Twitter’s product ambition has certainly seemed to pick up in recent months, following shareholder action to oust CEO Jack Dorsey last year. They’ve finally rolled out their fleets of Stories products, embraced audio in both traditional stream and with their Beta Spaces functionality, and they’ve taken some high-profile action to rule out misinformation and content moderation issues. (although there is always plenty to do there).
In recent weeks, Twitter has also made some particularly interesting acquisitions. Today it was announced that they are purchasing Revue, a newsletter management startup. Earlier this month, they purchased Breaker, a podcasting service. Last month, they bought Squad, a social screen sharing app.
It’s an aggressive turn that follows Twitter’s announcement of the shutdown of Periscope, a live video app bought and long neglected by Twitter despite the company’s current product manager as its founder.
TikTok’s wild success in 2020 in fully realizing Vine’s larger vision, which Twitter shut down in 2017, appears to be a particularly embarrassing blot in the company’s history; It’s also the most crystallized example of Twitter shooting itself in the foot for not taking risks. And while Twitter was ahead of that curve and just didn’t, Substack and Clubhouse are two examples of competitors Twitter could have prevented from reaching their current stature had it simply been more aggressive in recognizing. opportunities in the adjacent social market and kicked into action.
It is particularly difficult to see in the shadow of Facebook’s growing isolation. Once a staunch enemy of any social upstart, Facebook finds itself hopelessly complicated by global politics and antitrust issues in a way that might never bring it down, but has seemed to slow its maneuverability. A startup like Clubhouse may once seem like a prime acquisition target, but it’s too complicated a buy for Facebook to even attempt to attempt in 2021, leaving Twitter a potential competitor that could grow to its full size.
Twitter is a much smaller business than Facebook, although it is still very large. As the company aims to move beyond the 2020 US election which has absorbed its attention so much and broaden its ambitions, one of its most relevant challenges will be to re-energize a product culture to recognize opportunities and compete against competitors. emerging – although another challenge may be getting its competitors to take it seriously in the first place.