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Twitter Announces New Board Members, More in the Offing

On Friday, Twitter, Inc. TWTR appointed two new members – Hugh Johnston and Martha Lane Fox – to its board with immediate effect.

Johnston, CFO of PepsiCo PEP and Lane Fox, a British entrepreneur, will replace Peter Currie and Peter Chernin whose terms expire in May. Lane Fox also co-founded travel website

This is another high profile management rejig after the departure of four top executives at the beginning of the year. Twitter in order to retain staff has reportedly been giving away additional restricted stock and cash bonus.

Perks like these are a smart ploy because it is difficult to have a completely new set of people running the show when just about everything from products to customers to strategy is being overhauled.

Twitter’s challenges are plenty with no immediate solution in sight. The user base has stagnated at 320 million. In order to attract more users while fully monetizing the existing ones, the company has been implementing a lot of changes. A new way to display tweets was introduced, live video streaming app Periscope was integrated in its feed and the star icon that stood for favorites was replaced by a bright red heart shaped button for likes.

Moreover, Twitter would now make tweets available on Google search to woo the 500 million users who do not log in but keep a track of tweets. Last December, the company launched ads for logged out users. Earlier, its news curation tool, Moments, was a step in the same direction.

It recently won the rights to stream NFL, outbidding the likes of Facebook FB and Amazon AMZN. There are pretty big events lined up for 2016 like the Olympics and U.S presidential elections which also bode well for Twitter. Plus, there is tremendous hope that Jack Dorsey, co-founder and second time CEO will pull it all together for Twitter.

BUT, despite Dorsey being at the helm for almost 6 months, there hasn’t been much change in Twitter’s fortunes. Shares have lost over 46% of their value in the past 6 months. Though the plans look good on paper, execution remains a challenge.

Despite numerous challenges, Dorsey’s tweet on Friday which stressed to “bring diversity and represent the strong communities on Twitter" should make activists happy.

American companies have come under fire for being less diverse at the higher corporate rungs. Activists like Jesse Jackson have long fought for increasing involvement of women and African American and other populations at higher management levels. Twitter with an all-white dominated board and just one woman representation, Marjorie Scardino, has been criticized for long. 

Earlier, soon upon his appointment as CEO in Oct 2015, Dorsey had brought on board, Omid Kordestani, an Iranian American entrepreneur who like Dorsey is keen to address the diversity issue at Twitter.

At present, Twitter carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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AMAZON.COM INC (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
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