Friday, December 2, 2016
Twitter bought a small, virtually unknown startup to get a new chief of product
Almost a year after its last product VP jumped ship, Twitter has finally found a replacement to take on the challenging job of rekindling the service's stalled user growth.
Twitter's new VP of Product is Keith Coleman, a longtime Google product manager who has been working at a small, little known startup called Yes for the past few years.
Twitter took an interesting route to hire Coleman: it acquired his seven-person startup.
Coleman announced that his team is joining Twitter on Thursday in a blog post. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that he'll join the company as VP of Product and report to CTO Adam Messinger. Twitter would not provide financial details of its deal to acquire Yes.
Twitter's product has long been criticized for being too difficult to use for average users and the company's head of product role has a reputation for carrying something of a curse: Coleman will be the fifth person since 2014 to fill the head of product role at Twitter.
Twitter's last product VP was Kevin Weil, who left in January 2016 to be head of product at Facebook-owned Instagram.
With Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey also considered the company's unofficial product visionary, finding someone willing to take the job has not been easy. One source close to the company told Business Insider that Twitter has struggled to fill the role since Weil left in January. Jeff Seibert served as consumer product boss in the wake of Weil's departure for a short time before he was taken off the position over the summer.
Before founding Yes in 2014, Coleman worked at Google for over a decade and led product management for Gmail and Gchat.
His startup's two apps, Frenzy and WYD, will be shut down in the coming weeks. It's not clear how successful Yes was as a company, nor if it raised any venture capital.
Coleman does not appear to be a heavy Twitter user. Although he joined the service in 2007, he has tweeted only 143 times to date.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Messinger welcomed Coleman and his team in a pair of tweets on Thursday: