Daniel Graf, Twitter’s head of product, is out after only six months. He’s keeping the title — VP of Product — but he has been demoted to work on “strategic initiatives” instead of running the consumer product team, according to a Wall Street Journal source. Kevin Weil, a longtime Twitter employee and current head of revenue products, will be stepping into the product lead position. Graf’s demotion comes only a day after news that two of Twitter’s top engineers, including its head of Analytics, had resigned.
The revolving door of key employees, constant since Twitter went public (and arguably since Twitter was founded), has not markedly improved the company’s big problem: slowing user growth. There has been tension over the best way to tackle the issue — see the controversy over algorithmic filters, among other experimental features.
As Mathew Ingram noted on Twitter, the fact that Twitter is stationing its head of revenue as its concurrent head of product says a lot. The company needs to make investors happy, and that means aligning the long term vision of the consumer application with what’s going to make the most money.
It’s possible the company is resolving disagreements over such endeavors by saying goodbye to the internal dissenters. Or, the continued staff departures could be a sign that the product vision is still wildly in flux. Twitter hasn’t publicly discussed the matter, but on its earnings call this week CEO Dick Costolo emphasized that the company’s key priority right now is increasing the pace of its product execution.
Weil will be Twitter’s fifth head of product in the last half decade, taking a job that seems about as jinxed as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professorship at Hogwarts.