Twitter Inc. (TWTR) hired Google Inc. (GOOG) executive Daniel Graf to be its new vice president of consumer products, sending the microblogging company's stock soaring the most since its first day of trading.
The shares jumped 11 percent to $45.52 yesterday, stemming a decline that started when the company reported a slowdown in new member growth in February. Graf, who was a director at Google’s mapping unit, is replacing Michael Sippey, who left the position at San Francisco-based Twitter in January.
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo is betting that changes to the company’s products will enhance its appeal for more mainstream users. The microblogging company has been adding bigger images to the site and giving users different ways to organize information, making the service easier to use. Some of Twitter’s product rollouts have been rocky, said Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner Inc.
“Twitter has had some issues with user retention and 2014 is going to be the big test for them,” Blau said. “Google Maps has done really, really well. When you have someone of Daniel’s caliber maybe you can solve some of these problems.”
Twitter’s monthly active users during the fourth quarter rose 30 percent to 241 million, slower than the 39 percent gain posted in the prior period. Facebook Inc. has 1.2 billion monthly active users.
“Followed Maps to find that the flock was just around the corner -- excited to take wing with the @twitter product team,” Graf tweeted. He started using Twitter in 2009 and has tweeted three times and follows five people, according to his account.
Costolo sent a Twitter post saying that he was “looking forward” to having Graf join next month.
Earlier yesterday, Twitter said that it would acquire longtime data partner Gnip Inc., getting deeper into the business of selling analytical data. Gnip is one of the few partners with access to Twitter’s data firehose of more than half a billion Tweets a day, along with Topsy Labs Inc. and Datasift Inc.
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