Big Technology

The Story Behind Twitter’s Revival: A Conversation With Twitter Product Head Kayvon Beykpour

‘We were hyper-focused on doing very, very few things’

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Kayvon Beykpour is one of Silicon Valleys busiest product executives. As Twitter’s head of product, he’s survived for years in a formerly cursed role that seemed to turn over every few months. Now, Beykpour’s team is shipping. Twitter just released a Clubhouse clone, called Spaces. It bought Revue, a newsletter platform. And it announced Super Follow, a feature that wraps it all together by letting you pay for added access and content from people you follow on Twitter. This is new territory for Twitter, which spent the past few years with a seemingly stagnant product development process. Beykpour joins Big Technology Podcast for a wide-ranging discussion of all that and more.

Kantrowitz: Hi Kayvon. Were you waiting for the 2020 election to blow over before letting these products out of the barn?

Beykpour: I can appreciate how it might feel like that, but I promise you, that’s not actually how it works. It had nothing to do with us waiting for post-election. A lot of what we shared at our Analyst Day presentation has been in the works for quite some time. Like in some cases, over a year. These are very handy moments in time to do some storytelling around both what we have been working on for a while, what’s relatively new, what’s launched, what’s about to launch, and what’s a little bit further out.

But the short answer to your question is, we don’t do product development like that. We don’t wait for some election-related thing to then decide to announce a bunch of things, no.

Because we’re talking about Trump, it seems from the reporting that the Twitter policy team made a decision to ban Trump, and then they told Jack Dorsey. What does that say about Twitter’s culture that the process went that way? Are you so decentralized in your decision-making?

Well, how else would you expect the process to go? I’m curious.

Everybody on the outside thinks that, when it came to banning Trump, Facebook took it to Mark and Twitter took it to Jack and the CEOs made the decision. I’d love to hear what actually happened and what you think that says about Twitter?

I can’t speak for other companies obviously, but Twitter has always made policy enforcement decisions on the basis of having clearly defined rules and being able to make enforcement decisions that are commensurate to those rules. And what I just described sounds simple, but it’s actually incredibly difficult as you can imagine. The interpretation of rules and the circumstances around how enforcement decisions are made is really, really complicated. And that’s something that we’ve had our own process and evolution around being better, being more transparent, being more consistent about getting those enforcement decisions right. But the way we made this decision philosophically is no different than how we make any other decision, which is like, we have a set of rules and we need to enforce those rules.

Right. But banning the president of the United States has always been a different category of decisions.

It’s a different magnitude of decision, but it’s one that we’ve also tried to carve policy around, right? We’ve tried to craft policy to articulate why that circumstance, not like the U.S. president, but world leaders generally. And we’ve had our own process of evolution around that. So I don’t think we purport to be perfect. It’s difficult to get any policy right from the beginning, which is why you see us iterate on the policies themselves, as well as our enforcement against them. But that is how the process works. The engine of policymaking and enforcement is how we go about making our decisions. It’s not like, “Hey, let’s go get Jack to make a decision this way or that way.” That’s just never been how we work.

So it wasn’t Jack who made that call.

In terms of like who approved the decision, that’s been well-documented, like Vijaya. Vijaya is our lead for policy enforcement. I know that the world will find it juicy to be like, well, who made the decision and all that, but I find that to be a little bit overdramatizing honestly.

It’s a fair point. It’s also in the public interest to know how these choices are made.

No. It’s just that, right? We have a policy apparatus and an enforcement apparatus. And ultimately Vijaya, as our head of policy, made a decision and Jack is aware and supportive.

How often do decisions boil up to Jack Dorsey? I mean, Jack, sometimes will be at Square, sometimes he’s on vacation or in a different country that operates in a time zone where it’s day, where it’s night in California. Does Jack set a vision and you end up shipping? How does that work?

One of the things that I love about Jack, both because it’s something I admire about him, but also because I think it jives with how I like to work, is he provides a lot of trust and autonomy to his leadership team and for me, that’s everything around the product and development apparatus. I often — when it comes to big strategic changes or just gnarly product changes — will consult Jack. But Jack is immensely trusting of ultimately my decisions, even if he disagrees with them, there were plenty of times where Jack and I will have some fun product debate where we land on different sides. And I always know his perspective that he trusts me to make the call. And that’s a style of working, that is not a function of the fact that he has two jobs.

I think that also is one of those juicy things that people, for understandable reasons.

Well, it’s untraditional.

Of course, it’s untraditional. And I think that’s why he’s one of the most interesting leaders of our time. He’s built two amazing companies out of a nontraditional way of working. And I have a lot of respect for him. But one misunderstood thing about Jack is, though it’s, again, easy to talk about the fact that there are constraints on his time, I have never ever needed something from Jack and had him not be there for me regardless of time of day, time zone. I don’t even know what he’s focusing on that… It doesn’t seem like he has any other job other than being there for Twitter, which is just my perspective.

Now, people have talked about this culture in the past, and they’ve pointed to that as the reason for Twitter’s slow pace of product shipping. Has something changed?

The cause for our slowness in the past extends far before Jack’s return to CEO. There just was a lot of churn at the company. I mean, just take my role at the head of product role. When I got this job—

It was a cursed job before you took it.

When I got this job, I had 12 predecessors in the last 13 years, which is crazy. Literally, when I got this job, people were like, “Okay, whatever, tell us what you want to do.” Like, “Let’s see how long that lasts,” which is kind of a weird role to step into.

Welcome.

Right. But thinking about that more organizationally, when there’s that much historical churn with an important role, like the product leader role, the organization builds callouses around that — where people don’t want to work on things that get killed. People want to work on things that see the light of day. And so organizationally, over time, the entire org gravitates around things that are most likely to be seen through. And that tends to be really iterative smaller things that are less controversial.

So that’s one thing. Two, there was a period of time at the company… and this was right around when I joined. As you know, I was very focused on Periscope for the first two years of my time at Twitter. The stated company product strategy at the time was refine the core. We were hyper-focused on doing very, very few things. And the one main thing we were focused on from a consumer standpoint was refining the relevance of our own timeline and all the recommendations.

And honestly, at the time, I was on the sidelines casting stones. Just as a fan of Twitter and as an employee of the company, I wish we would have taken bigger swings. And so I was a critic at the time. Looking back on it now, as much as that was frustrating as a phase for customers because they perceive that Twitter wasn’t evolving very much, what I appreciate about that time now, and I have a lot of respect for the leaders who made this happen was, that period of a year and a half or two years where we literally did nothing other than make our recommendations better, return the company to user growth, return the company to revenue growth, and gave us the wind in our sails and the oxygen that we now have to take bigger swings and bigger bets that will take time to pay off. We did not have that luxury five years ago, six years ago when I joined the company. And I think the unfortunate thing about that is there was a period of time where our customers were like, “What’s going on at Twitter? The product isn’t changing.”

The customers or your users? Those are two separate things.

It’s interesting you bring this up. We don’t consider them different things. We internally in our nomenclature, we’ve tried to stop using the word users because it’s less empathetic and… what is it?

We don’t pay you guys though. The advertisers pay you.

Well, people pay us with their attention, which is something we have to be respectful of. And the fact that people aren’t paying us with their dollars doesn’t change the fact that they are customers who come to Twitter to fulfill some need that they have. You’re right that advertisers are a different form of customer. They have different needs and different problems that we try and solve for them.

It’s a really untraditional way of looking at it.

That’s another one of those Jack things. Jack feels very strongly about framing all of our focus around our customers and solving customer problems, not users.

Sometime last year, Elliot Management, an activist investor, comes in, tries to oust Jack, and wants to make big changes inside the company. Was that like a kick in the butt that was like, “Oh, we really need to get these products out?”

I would say, for 99% of the company, that whole period of time had no impact. People had no visibility into that.

But maybe you were part of the 1% that it did impact. So what was it like for you?

Honestly, it wasn’t that time-consuming for me either. I can tell you, honestly, it was distracting hearing news cycles around lack of faith from a cohort of shareholders about the CEO. That sucks to hear and that’s distracting emotionally for sure. But ultimately the decisions that were made and a lot of the hard work in and around that period of time was not something that I was spending time on. Certainly, certain members of our management team and the board were very involved. I’ve been focused on building the product, so it’s not high leverage time for me to get involved in those dynamics. And I’m happy with where things ended up.

You mentioned it being a kick in the butt. I think that there’s not a single person on our management team who, for the last two years, hasn’t understood that if we don’t deliver for our customers and our shareholders, that we would not be the right people in our jobs. So we don’t need any more external pressure to understand that. And I think, in another one of the convenient narratives I’ve heard in the last week have been around like, “Oh, look at the pace that Twitter is picking up. It must be because of all these changes to the board.” And I can promise you, that has nothing to do with it. We have been working really hard over the last three years to make progress and build the momentum that people are seeing now. We did not start that work a year ago.

Good on us if we could have achieved something like that in the last two months or even year. We’ve had to reshape our leadership team, hire new people across product engineering and design research. We’ve had to set new strategies in place. It’s taken a while to shift this cruise ship that is Twitter and aim it in a different direction and at a way faster pace. And we’re starting to just see the results of that. Well, the world is starting to see the results of that. For us, it’s been a long multiyear journey.

Let’s talk about products. A few months ago, Twitter seemed to just be sending me different apps or different experiences. Every other tweet was “join this Clubhouse,” “sign up for my newsletter,” “watch this TikTok.” Now, you’re building some of those elements into Twitter. Spaces is a dead ringer for Clubhouse. Revue competes directly with Substack.

Were you just sick of seeing people build audiences on Twitter and then make money from them elsewhere?

It’s less reactive to the competition than it may seem at the surface area. The competition definitely is relevant in the sense of driving urgency for us, which I think is great for any ecosystem to have that urgency. But the motivation to answer your question stems back a year and a half when we started publicly talking about how we have this focus on our conversation strategy, which to us has always boiled down into a few different subgoals. One is enabling new use cases. For the longest time, we’ve been describing Twitter as a place where people can talk about what’s happening and yet we’ve been very slow to evolve the actual form factors that people can use to talk about stuff. Like you can only accomplish so much with the…

Your conversation strategy. You mentioned that. Can you just very quickly elaborate on what that means?

To us, what the conversation strategy means is, the thing that makes Twitter unique — relative to some other platform or service that you can use to find out what’s happening — is that Twitter relies on someone somewhere in the world using their voice to say something, whether that’s 140 characters or 280 characters or publishing a link. It’s a user-generated platform that’s predicated on people feeling comfortable talking in public. If we do not create a service with capabilities and features and incentives that people use to say stuff in public, then there is nothing for people to consume. This isn’t the New York Times where we have publishers that are employed to create content, right?

So the conversation strategy for us is essentially the umbrella of work that allows us to build the capabilities and the functionality that motivate people to create content on the platform. For us, that boils down into a few different things. One, we want to enable new use cases for conversation. Twitter is better tuned for short-form quips and short-form broadcasting than it is thoughtful discourse. And we’ve built an amazing service that’s very valuable to the world, out of a very narrow form factor. But therein lies the opportunity. And that’s why we’re focused on things like Fleets.

Which is essentially Snapchat stories copied.

Was that your way of sneaking in a zinger, Alex?

You guys don’t get shit for copying Snapchat stories. Facebook started that. We might be able to talk about you copying Clubhouse, but let’s keep the list going…

To keep the list going, Spaces for us is pursuant to the same goal of enabling new use cases. But it’s really focused on long-form, audio-based conversation which is both at the surface level is a huge departure from Twitter because people are like, “Wow, we had tweets and now we have these audio-based conversations.” But fundamentally to us, this use case is Twitter. This is people talking in public.

Yeah. It also looks exactly like Clubhouse. So now we’ll zing you. How did the two products end up looking so similar?

Well, we’ve been thinking about audio for quite some time. And it’s funny, actually, the code name for the project internally is called Kaleidoscope because when we started working a year ago and winding down Periscope, we knew that there were aspects of Periscope that we wanted to live on from a use case standpoint, putting aside the technology. And so we called it Kaleidoscope because it was like a multi-prism, future manifestation, incarnation of Periscope.

I think we took some twists and turns to get to what is now Spaces. Like the first bet that we worked on, it was more broadcast than it was conversational, right? The voice tweets product, which we launched on iOS, I think November of last year or September of last year, I can’t remember, was the first project that that team worked on, and it morphed into the more conversational format that is Spaces. We’ve been focused on this problem for a while.

And then Clubhouse came out and you said, “Okay, let’s just do that.”

Clubhouse undoubtedly encouraged us to focus and move way faster with more urgency. And I think what the Clubhouse team has done is awesome. Every half-decade or so, someone uncovers some new use case or mechanic that changes how people communicate on digital platforms. And I think Clubhouse was really the first to visualize that for what is the audio conversational format. I don’t think these things stay exclusive to one platform. We saw this with ephemeral content. We saw this with live video on Periscope, by the way, right? A year after Periscope launched, every platform had essentially a carbon copy. So I think that this is a natural evolution where there is a company or a startup that usually uncovers some mechanic first and then other platforms think about how to adapt them to their mediums in different ways.

What is Super Follow?

Super Follows is a feature that we’re building, not released yet, that will allow creators or influencers, anyone who has a Twitter account, to be subscribed to by their biggest fans. So rather than just following Alex to get his tweets, you can Super Follow him to get access to a subset of whatever content that Alex might want to publish for just his subscribers.

So that’s mechanically what it is. The why behind this is, for years, people have built followings on Twitter and have had to really leverage other tools and services outside of Twitter to be able to be supported directly by their audience and to provide exclusive content to their subscribers. We’ve seen platforms like Patreon and OnlyFans and many others build these capabilities that fundamentally are just helping creators make money and helping creators have a new type of relationship and back and forth with their biggest fans. And we think it’s a huge opportunity, both for creators and for Twitter to help offer that as a layer within Twitter. Particularly one that allows us to stitch together for creators and influencers, many of the capabilities that we’re adding onto Twitter right now.

So if you had a super follower capability, Alex, you would be able to publish newsletters using Revue to your super followers, you’d be able to host subscribers in the Spaces, subscriber-only DMs, subscriber-only tweets. Imagine every capability that exists on Twitter right now in terms of how you might create content and share it with the world, but then add to it the ability to narrowcast and target that content to either everyone or just your super followers, and be able to create your own custom definition of what you will provide your super followers, whether that’s the price point that you choose or how much content and what type of content they should expect from you on a periodic basis.

This one is particularly interesting to me because I did leave BuzzFeed to start my own newsletter, Big Technology, and of course this podcast. And I tweet a lot. So I’m kind of doing all the things that you guys are getting into. What’s the convincing argument though, for me to leave the services I like and then bring them to a centralized platform and then essentially bet everything on Twitter?

I’m not sure you need to. Our intent here is not to be winner-takes-all. There will be many platforms that allow creators to be rewarded by their audience. And I think we imagine a world where Twitter can be a part of that ecosystem and actually play quite nicely with that ecosystem. I think that there are specific capabilities within Twitter that we are uniquely well-positioned to provide, like being able to have a conversational layer, a public conversational layer between you and your followers, and your biggest super fans or super followers. That is something that we are uniquely positioned to excel on.

But I don’t think in order for us to succeed, we don’t need you to stop podcasting and move to use Spaces exclusively. You can create a podcast just like you normally do right now, and then use Twitter as a layer to have either a conversation beforehand. Like, “Hey, what should Kayvon and I talk about.” Like, “Do you want to influence what the agenda of this conversation is going to be super followers?”

I did just ask that in a tweet right before we got on the line…

We’re less thinking of this as a… we need to create the one and only way where people can create the subscriber graph. That’s not how we’re thinking about this. I think it would be foolish for us to be so narrowly centered. We’re going to create the best and only thing rather than how do we build something that uniquely leverages the strengths of Twitter and also can play nicely with the rest of the ecosystem in a way that ultimately helps creators. Our goal here is to incentivize creators, to be able to have more interesting conversations on the platform.

Yeah. And it is interesting to me, Revue will take 5% of subscriber fees, whereas Substack takes 10%. So I think you will have a convincing argument that you’re going to be able to make to a bunch of people in my position.

How do you think about that? What are the pros and cons and the dimensions of that decision for you?

Twitter is a compelling use case for what I’m trying to do. I think Revue has a lot of work that it needs to do in terms of design. But if you guys get a parity there, and I’m able to bring subscribers into the same experience, I think that would make a lot of sense. In fact, when people unsubscribe from Big Technology, I have a little form “Tell me about why you’ve decided to leave.” And people have just said, “well, I’m just going to read your tweets.” So there is a tension. I’d always want to keep a free element, but there’s definitely something intriguing about taking everything that I’m doing and bringing it under one roof, charging one fee, and trying to make this something that potentially has long-term staying power.

What you just touched on this question of how much of… this class of creator we’re talking about.

The middle class, that’s what I call it. We’re not the big influencers, but there’s enough people paying attention that — I mean, that’s the bet that I’m making with Big Technology — that there’s a chance to make a living off of it.

Yeah. I think one of the super interesting questions is like, what subset of my content goes as part of the free layer versus the subscriber-only layer. I think it’s a fascinating one and something that we’re also thinking a lot about. Because there’s podcasting as one medium, there’s long-form newsletter as another medium. And with Super Follows. We’re adding a bunch of other mediums to this where tweets have their own formula of like, “Well, what do I tweet to my super followers versus everyone?” I’m super interested to see how that evolves. Don’t purport to have the right answer, but we want to build the product with the flexibility to let everyone figure out what that formula means to them.

I’m going to seriously consider migrating. We’ll see where things go when you roll it out, but it is definitely interesting. What strikes me also is that it’s not just paying for tweets. It’s paying for tweets, but also you pay for the stories in the newsletter and you pay for the community with Spaces. And that’s much more compelling than just paying for 280 character missives.

I definitely agree. I don’t think paying for tweets is the right take. It’s paying for community and paying for a relationship that is different than the relationship that creators already have with their audience. This is a different type of relationship that can take new forms and be a little bit more intimate, just as a natural function of how much smaller the community that will be.

Totally. Before you guys bought Revue, which is the newsletter platform we’ve talked about, people were saying you were interested in buying Substack. Did you guys try to buy Substack?

I’ve long admired that team and I met the team a couple of times. I think they’re really awesome. And just like we were talking about with Clubhouse, I think Substack has done a really amazing job of willing this new form… it’s both not new, but also in the way Substack has really grown, they’ve made this a movement.

But you had acquisition discussions with them.

I’m not going to comment on M&A, but I can tell you I’ve met that team and really love what they’re doing.

All right. We’ll read between the lines. Then they said, “We’re not selling to Twitter.” They thought the opportunity was bigger on their own. Now, you and Andrew Chen, the guy who funds Substack and is also funding Clubhouse from Andreessen Horowitz, are kind of head to head.

I’ve already reached out to Andrew over DMs and complimented him. I think he’s very good at his job. And he is supporting some awesome companies. I definitely admire —

Obviously, you’re following his roadmap in some ways, which is interesting.

I wouldn’t quite frame it like that, but I appreciate the observation.

Okay. I will.

Go for it.

What’s interesting about you guys and them is that the Andreessen investments are hostile to journalists, maybe implicitly. Whereas it seems like you guys are working with journalists. How do you think about that?

Journalists are our customers. That’s one of the most important demographics of people who use Twitter. And so it’s instrumental for us to make sure that we’re building a product that is valuable to journalists, both from a consumption standpoint and particularly in the case of Spaces, like creation, mechanic… I long for the day that journalists as a natural course of their work are able to use a product like Spaces on Twitter to communicate about their research, the pieces they publish, and to talk about what’s happening in the world. I think that that will make Twitter a better ecosystem if journalists, along with many other types of customers, have that capability.

So it’s just invaluable for us to have folks like you and Kate Conger of the New York Times using the product in the early days and helping us shape how it works. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think that… I know Marc Andreessen and a16z has their own views, I think. I don’t see Clubhouse as necessarily being anti journalists either. The product has that same promise. I think how certain people leverage their block list is different than what the product’s intent is.

I hear you. Maybe I was a little bit overboard on that one. But it certainly is — you set a tone, you set a culture, and that gets reflected.

Yeah. For us, the tone we’re trying to set with Spaces is, we are building in the public and we want to hear from all of our customers and that is inherently messy and chaotic, but it’s so Twitter. We’ve always, at our best, we’ve built in public and we’ve shaped the product through the intent and will have our customers. It’s how the retreat was born, it’s how the app mention was born, it’s how the hashtag was born. What we’re doing with Spaces in that same spirit is obviously developing in public. What’s different about Spaces is we are building very, very quickly. We are taking action in days and weeks. We don’t use the units of time with months and quarters. And we’re trying to build this product really quickly and bring it to our customers.

I think it can do really good things for journalism. Because unfortunately, journalists have spoken to the public in tweets. And that’s done them a lot of harm because it takes the nuance and the thoughtfulness that’s inherent to the job and strips it out. And when people do see reporters on Spaces having a conversation, it will reveal some of that thoughtfulness that exists in the work. And for journalists, that will be good to hear from people who disagree with them.

I couldn’t agree with you more. I would just copy, paste everything you said, but that’s true for not just journalists.

That’s good for everyone. Probably.

Jack, over a year and a half ago, said we’re rethinking the incentives of the service. And what that refers to is exactly this conversation. The mechanics of Twitter have long incentivized a certain type of discourse. And that discourse is way more tuned towards witty quips that can get lots of likes and retweets. And that is useful for some—

And outrage.

Yeah. Outrage tends to do well sometimes when you’re optimizing for reach. And that has some positive… the mechanics have some positive outcomes, right? Like news can travel very quickly. People can stay informed about things that are happening in the world very quickly. But it has a lot of downsides too. It does not lead to empathetic, thoughtful discourse. Like it’s no wonder why the depth of any conversation on Twitter through tweets doesn’t go particularly deep. It’s really hard to have a substantive back and forth. And that’s a product problem. That’s a mechanics problem.

I view Spaces as an ice bath. Right after pretty intense practice, you jump in the ice bath and cool off, and maybe Spaces can be like the ice bath of Twitter. Instead of yelling at each other, you go in and talk it out.

A lot of it’s the medium, audio specifically. And when we first started Periscope, we always used to say we chose live video as a medium for our teleportation goal because live video can build truth and empathy. And the empathy bit is very voice-specific because when you hear someone when you hear the intonation when you hear the emotion behind their voice, it’s a level of empathy you can build with them. That’s very different than seeing an avatar and 140 characters of texts.

And I believe that that’s a really big part of what’s gonna make this medium on Twitter change the tone of conversation on the platform. Not to suggest that there isn’t value for asynchronous text-based back and forth, but it’s the compliment of the two together that I think is really fascinating.

I think they work well together. There’s something inside Substack, they call it the Baschez number. I don’t know if you know about it?

No.

It’s named after Nathan Baschez. He used to work there and he’s now doing his own newsletter. And they basically take the number of Twitter followers that somebody has and they look at their engagement and they can tell pretty well whether they would make a successful newsletter writer or not. And I believe they go try and recruit. This didn’t happen with me. I did this on my own. But they tried to recruit them and say, “Hey, you could make a better living, more stable living if you were just writing a paid newsletter.”

So, how do you think that this feature will change modern-day newsrooms? Because superstars who have long gone in and they’ve gotten paid well and felt comfortable may actually be able to make more money doing something like a Revue, Spaces, Super Follow combination. I’m sure people are going to leave the New York Times to try this out. So what do you think about that?

I think we’re already seeing it. The tools that now exist both help the tools that help you build your own audience, the tools that help you publish with minimal investment and a minimal team behind you, and the tools that help you make money to support yourself to continue your craft. It’s never been more rich. And so I think that’s true. By the way, broadly, well beyond long-form publishing, like this is the best time for an entrepreneur to start a company and go build some new technology-based products on AWS and you don’t need to hire a 30 person infrastructure team to go build some tools.

Never been cheaper to start a company.

It’s never been cheaper.

And you’ve never been able to do it as quickly.

And you’ve never been able to reach an audience as quickly. Helpful in part due to platforms like Twitter and IG and all the other platforms that help you get distribution. So I think that we’re absolutely going to continue seeing this across all verticals, not just journalism. And I think it will be interesting to see how traditional publishers evolve and how the platforms like Twitter evolve and how this burgeoning ecosystem of tools evolve around it.

What other use cases do you see?

With what?

The Super Follow. When you say it’s not just journalism, what are you thinking of in your mind?

Super Follows is not going to displace an existing type of conversation that’s going to move from public to private subscriber-only. It’s going to create a new avenue for conversation that isn’t happening right now. There’s this funny back and forth where someone tweeted… I don’t remember who it was, but someone tweeted like what would this person need to tweet for you to… which of these tweets would you be willing to pay for or something. And Scott Belsky, who’s an old friend and one of the first investors of Periscope had this great response. He replied with, “You’re super following them for the things that they don’t tweet.” Which I think is so spot on.

Oh, fascinating.

I think this layer, if done correctly, will allow a new type of relationship and a new type of conversation to flourish between creators and their audience that doesn’t really flourish today on Twitter at least. And maybe it flourishes through other mediums.

Well, now I got to ask the OnlyFans question. Do you see this as competitive with OnlyFans?

I think there are certain use cases that I would hope people would choose Super Follows for rather than OnlyFans, but I think OnlyFans will continue to exist. I mean, they have also a particular demographic of usage that we’re not shooting for on Twitter. But I think any time a capability like this gets built at a bigger platform, there are certain use cases that it competes for and there are certain use cases that it doesn’t compete for. So I think time will tell.

But we’re not really thinking of this through the lens of, “Hey, let’s go after OnlyFans and Patreon.” We think of this from a first principle standpoint. Like how do we build a product that allows creators on Twitter to get more value out of Twitter and be able to develop a new type of relationship with their audience? And it just so happens that that will intersect with some use cases that other third-party tools fulfill today. And in some cases, will allow for use cases that aren’t fulfilled by any tool.

Yeah. I like that. It’s the stuff that people aren’t saying out loud, but might say to a small select group of people who are willing to pay and be part of a private community. That’s really interesting.

Okay, at your Analyst Day, you said you’re going to add or you expect to add 123 million users in the next two years. You only have about in the 200 million range now. Why does Twitter set such high expectations? It seems like this is what happened with the IPO. And then it took years to dig out of the gulf between the expectations and reality. Isn’t this just creating a similar situation?

I can’t speak to the IPO and what decision-making went into expectations setting then. I can tell you that… well, a couple of things. One, I would actually argue that people have low expectations of Twitter. Over the last five years, I think people have had insanely low expectations.

No doubt. Right. But you’re ramping them up again.

Yeah. And I think rightfully so for a couple of reasons. One, these are our expectations and I think there’s a power to being transparent about your own expectations because it is yet another way that you can be held to account, right? It’s one thing to have your own intrinsic motivation to do something, but when you put it on the public record, it really puts a fire under you. And I think that’s terrifying, but it’s a good quality to instill in a team. So I think that’s one of the benefits.

The other, and I suspect this is somewhat different to Twitter of yesteryear is, we’re not making shit up. This is our strategy. We have goals around that strategy that we want to hold ourselves accountable to. And we’re not pulling things out of a hat. This is a strategy that… we didn’t publish this last night or a week ago. We’ve been focused on this strategy for quite some time. We have some momentum under our belt and we’re intent on seeing it through. Sorry if you’re hearing my dog’s barking in the background.

That’s okay. We always have dogs in this work-from-home podcast era. Dog’s up here on every show.

Millie. Millie, come here. Millie…

[Editors note: Millie does not come to Kayvon.]

Okay, so to me, it’s both important for the world to know where Twitter is going because we are building a public conversation platform. It would be ironic if we were not public about our own strategy and ambitions. I think it is uniquely Twitter to be leaned in and transparent about the work that we’re doing. So I don’t see it as a distraction. I think it’s an added layer of complexity, which I think is a feature. Not a complexity, it’s an added layer of accountability, which to me is a feature, not a bug. And we’re going to try really hard to not let ourselves and our customers and our shareholders down.

The last question I was going to ask you is how did Jack show up at the beginning of your Analyst Day in a sweatshirt and what looked like a yoga lodge, and then end up with a hunter hat in some other location later in the day. He’s a man of mystery.

I lost power for the entirety of Analyst Day, which is the worst possible time for the utility company to ruin the neighborhood’s power. So I actually wasn’t able to watch our videos. I didn’t see the transformation, but I will say, I think Jack has earned the right to wear whatever the fuck he wants.

Okay. Well, we’ll end it with that. That was a good exclamation point for a really interesting conversation. Kayvon, I appreciate you joining.

I write the Big Technology newsletter. Sign up here: https://bigtechnology.substack.com.

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