Twitter CEO: Future uncertain for the @ sign, but the hashtag is here to stay

Share prices fell 9 percent, and Twitter is looking at ways to cut out the "clutter"


Sarah Gray
May 1, 2014 7:21PM (UTC)

On Tuesday, Twitter's first quarter earnings were announced and the stock market was #unimpressed. Twitter went public with shares trading at $74, but on Wednesday, according to NPR, they opened at under $38.

Twitter may be the darling of the media, the entertainment industry and protesters worldwide, but that doesn't mean it is turning a profit. Or at least one that gets stock market juices going.

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Yesterday, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo spoke to NPR, and he doesn't seem too worried about growing its user base. (Twitter has 255 million active users, a 25 percent growth from last year.) What Twitter is focused on is cleaning away the "clutter" from the social media platform. Costolo told NPR:

"Well, the hashtag, for us, is absolutely here to stay. People understand it globally. I was in Shanghai recently where Twitter is blocked and yet there were ads and billboards across town with hashtags on them.

I think the @ sign is some of the scaffolding that I talk about within Twitter that sometimes makes it harder to navigate in specific cases. So let me just give you a simple example: When I'm having a conversation with six or seven people on Twitter ... some of the 140 characters start to be consumed by the six or seven @ usernames in the tweet, that leaves me very little space left in which to navigate. So those are the kinds of things I'm talking about when I publicly say we need to push the scaffolding of Twitter to the background and bring the content forward and allow people to navigate more freely."

The goal, Costolo said, is not to compete with Facebook, but to bridge the gap between Twitter's ubiquitousness, and actual user interaction. "I think about us at Twitter as being a public, real-time conversation," Costolo explained. "And that has made us this companion experience to whatever else is happening in your world."


Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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Clutter Gadgets Hashtag Ipo Technology Turkey Twitter Twitter Ban

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