Twitter co-founder Biz Stone is returning to guide the messaging platform’s internal culture, as it tries to turn around slow user growth and declining revenue in the face of increased competition.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter chief executive and co-founder who returned to try to revive the company almost two years ago, asked Mr Stone back during a relaunch of the company’s weekly Friday afternoon tradition of Tea Time for employees in San Francisco.
The 43-year-old Mr Stone said founders create the “personality of a company” and he wanted to bring that energy and feeling to Twitter, which he described as “the most important work of my life”. He will not replace anyone at Twitter but will work with Mr Dorsey and Leslie Berland, Twitter’s chief marketing officer.
“Jack coming back was a big step forward. And now, it’s my turn — I’m returning to full-time work at Twitter starting in a couple of weeks!” he said in a blog post. “I’ll shape the experience internally so it’s also felt outside the company.”
Shares in Twitter, which have risen 21 per cent in the last three months, were up 2.3 per cent to $19.66 at lunchtime in New York trading.
Mr Stone was one of three co-founders alongside current chief executive Jack Dorsey, who returned to run the company in 2015, and Ev Williams, a Twitter board member and now chief executive of Medium, the blogging site.
He played a key role defining Twitter’s role in the world, advocating for it as a free speech platform by creating its philosophy of ‘tweets must flow’.
Now, Twitter is facing a challenge to balance this freedom of expression with a crackdown on abuse and trolls on the platform. It is also playing a more central role in politics than ever before, as US president Donald Trump takes to the forum to make announcements, intervene in debate and spark controversy.
“As I truly believe, and as I’ve written before, the tweets must flow. Twitter has woven itself into the fabric of our global society,” Mr Stone wrote on Tuesday.
In a tweet, Mr Dorsey said he was excited to have Mr Stone’s “energy and heart” back at Twitter.
Investors have been worried that about the pace of user growth and falling revenues at Twitter, as it encounters increased competition from both the larger social networks offered by Facebook and newer entrants such as Instagram and Snapchat. Mr Dorsey returned to try to shake up the product and entice a larger audience.
Despite the underlying concerns shares in Twitter rebounded after its earnings report last month, when it beat analyst expectations on earnings and revenue and lifted daily active users by 14 per cent-year-on-year, lured in part by a surge in political and news accounts.