Twitter cofounder and interim CEO Jack Dorsey said Tuesday that the social network, in an effort to more effectively attract and retain new users, could move further away from a strictly reverse chronological timeline of user posts.
“You will see us continue to question the reverse chronological timeline,” Dorsey said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call. He referenced two recent Twitter products that move away from the site’s original format. One, called Project Lightning, is set to launch this fall and will involve curated, live streams of updates on breaking news events—a product that “tells a better story,” according to Dorsey. The other, called “While you were away,” was introduced in January and brings popular, recent tweets to the top of a user’s timeline.
“Through experiences like ‘While you were away’ and experiments like Project Lightning, I believe we have struck the right balance of recency and relevance,” Dorsey said.
That balance has been a struggle for Twitter, a fact that CFO Anthony Noto also acknowledged during the call. “Non-users continue to ask, ‘Why should I use Twitter?'” Noto said. “The product remains too difficult to use. We need to simplify the product so everyone can get value from Twitter faster. This is both a product issue and a marketing issue.”
Dorsey became the interim CEO of Twitter on July 1, after former chief executive Dick Costolo stepped down. Dorsey is currently also the CEO of mobile payments company Square, which filed for an initial public offering late last week. During the earnings call, one investor asked about the status of the search for Twitter’s permanent CEO, and Dorsey declined to provide an update.
Twitter reported that its second-quarter revenue was $501 million, up 61% from the same period last year. It had 304 million active users as of June 2015, which means the social network’s user base has grown just 12% since last year.
Twitter has traditionally had a high barrier to entry for new users, who must find and follow many people before they can get real value from the site. In recent months, Twitter has tried to solve this problem by creating an automatic timeline for new accounts, but the social network has still failed to scale at the level of Facebook, which has more than a billion active users.