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Twitter India head quits, more exits to follow in major shake-up

business Updated: Nov 02, 2016 09:53 IST
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The Twitter India head, Rishi Jaitley’s exit is the beginning of a larger exodus, Twitter employees said on conditions of anonymity. (Hindustan Times)

Rishi Jaitly’s resignation was not surprising for most Twitter India employees, who knew that the domestic market will be impacted by the micro-blogging site’s global restructuring programme, as the company failed to get new users and generate higher advertising revenue, giving way to Facebook, Google and Snapchat.

The company said last week it would cut 9% of its global workforce, affecting more than 300 employees as part of a broader restructuring. It has also been in talks with various companies for a possible stake sale.

The Twitter India head’s exit is the beginning of a larger exodus, Twitter employees said on conditions of anonymity.

“Rishi Jaitly’s resignation is possibly just the beginning of the end of the current leadership in India and more resignations might follow,” a person in know of the developments said.

After Jaitly, Parminder Singh (managing director of middle east and north Africa or MENA/Southeast Asia/India), Arvinder Gujral (senior director, business development) and Raheel Khursheed (head of news, government, tech and other portfolios, India market) might also resign from their individual positions, said the person quoted above.

Khursheed declined to comment. Singh and Gujral did not respond till the time of going to press.

According to reports, Khursheed is already looking out for opportunities outside Twitter.

A twitter executive said “there was a bigger story in this”. Twitter is looking to focus on higher advertising revenue, with a leaner and flexible team focussing on building a sales and marketing team in India, in line with the company’s global strategy.

“Twitter has struggled to generate ad revenue as it is 50% to 60% more expensive than Facebook. Advertisers have moved to outcome-based models, rather than brand recall, which was the earlier norm – something that Facebook is very good at,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder and chief analyst of Greyhound Research.

In its new avatar, Twitter will focus on building traction in multi-format videos, also an important area for Facebook and Google. It has also moved away from its 140-character limit, it no longer includes videos and pictures within that.

India is the silver lining in Twitter’s operations,and the company’s co-founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, doesn’t want to let go. According to data from San Francisco-based app intelligence firm App Annie, Twitter’s monthly active user base grew 35% in the country in September, compared to the previous month, while in the US it increased only 4%. The total time spent by Indians on the micro-blogging site also grew 60% in September.

Incidentally, Jaitly had helped popularise Twitter in India, especially its adoption among government departments to respond to citizen queries.