September 25, 2013 Kevin Erb

Twitter goes to Wall Street


You guys! Twitter is going public! You may have heard the news – or, perhaps, saw it in in your Twitter feed – when it popped up late a couple of weeks ago. It’s a move that’s been in the rumor mill a long time, so the only surprise was when Twitter actually, finally made it official.

The big question – what, if anything, does this change for us Twitter users? How will it change the user experience for me, whether I’m an individual or brand/organizational user?

The easy answer is nothing, at least for now. It will be a while (a couple of months, at least) before Twitter actually goes public, so nothing drastic will change in terms of user experience in the short term. And even after that, it’s unlikely Twitter will make any drastic changes or alterations to how people use the site.

After that, however, is where things are more up in the air. Wall Street will see Twitter as a growth stock, and the single biggest growth metric will be its total users. This could cause Twitter to change or oversimplify the user experience in an attempt to attract new users to the site who previously may have been intimidated by the steep learning curve the site can be known for.

Indeed, the primary goal of any public company is to make money for shareholders. That can lead to various bouts of tunnel vision or shortsightedness in the ongoing battle to maximize profits and shareholder value, especially when it comes at the expense of the people actually using the site.

Fortunately, at least in our opinion, Twitter’s leadership team is pretty smart, and has already done a very good job turning the site into a moneymaker without altering the user experience too much. This gives us hope that that will continue to be the case after the IPO – that they’ll continue to explore and experiment with ways to generate revenue while keeping the overall user experience largely unchanged. That they’ll continue to think long-term about the site its user base instead of short-term about the site and its investors.

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