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Twitter’s Jack Dorsey keeps CEO role following scrutiny

According to a decision made by a Twitter board committee, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will keep his role at the social media company. Yahoo Finance's Dan Roberts discusses.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Now, one stock in particular that we are watching today is Twitter. Those shares are up about 5%, and that's after an independent panel said that the governance structure and the management structure at Twitter was A-OK. That is Jack Dorsey's dual role there and at Square-- was kosher. Dan Roberts is joining us now to talk to us more about this, and this is something activists pushed for-- this review, that is.

DAN ROBERTS: That's exactly right, Julie. And we knew that Elliott Management was involved here and that it was looking like a problem for Jack Dorsey. Now, we already had months ago what looks like a truce between Elliott Management and Dorsey. They came to a little bit of a deal to extend him, or at least hit pause on the drama. Now we know that this independent panel at least included Jesse Cohn of Elliott Management. So you do have this panel expressing confidence in Dorsey, including someone from Elliott.

But look, we know what happened a week ago with earnings, right? There were some OK financial numbers. But on user growth, up 29% from a year ago, which if you just looked at that number, you'd say, oh, pretty good. But Twitter only gained 1 million daily active users from the quarter before, which is paltry.

I mean, how is a platform that is, you know, chugging along like this, that we, as journalists, know we use every day only gaining 1 million users from quarter to quarter? It's just a very weak user growth. So that kind of, I think, bubbled back to the fore the conversation about how much longer Dorsey can remain CEO of two publicly-traded companies. But the answer is, for a little while longer.

You do get to feel a little bit, based on these reports and based on Elliot's, I guess, halted attempts to oust Dorsey that Twitter is a little bit complacent these days. You know, oh, it's going fine. We'll just let Jack hold the reins.

MYLES UDLAND: Well, I think it's interesting though, Dan-- you know, and obviously, the stock up 5% today. The market is interpreting it as a truce. But I mean, I kind of read this language in here on updating the succession plan in line with best practices, continue with its responsibilities to oversee a plan and evaluate on an ongoing basis.

To me, this sort of sets up that OK, Jack's not going to get fired overnight, but I still think there's a process here, with Elliott involved, of thinking about who the next CEO should be. I mean, they're going to bring in probably some big, splashy name, and I think they're just saying, we're going to do that gradually instead of suddenly. That's kind of how I'm interpreting this, but maybe that's just my own bias, as someone who thinks Jack probably should not be the CEO of two publicly-traded companies.

DAN ROBERTS: No, I agree with you. And I think that they will bring in someone new, and they should. The question, as many phrased it maybe, you know, six months or whenever it was that Elliott Management came in-- maybe that was already a year ago-- was are Dorsey's days numbered. And I think they are. I think they still are.

Now, I'm glad you mentioned some of the wants, the asks that this panel has. Another one was starting in 2021, Elliott Management wants new board members to have only a one-year term. And I think that's another bullet point that shows that Dorsey's at some risk because that means they're going to push for some new people to come in onto the board, shake things up. They're only going to be on for a year. They're going to be activists that want management to change.

So you know, Square is chugging along, doing arguably better than Twitter. Of course, everyone likes to say, oh, they're two totally different companies. You can't compare them. You can because they have the same CEO. And again, I just think-- financials aside, ad sales aside-- how can you only grow by 1 million new users quarter to quarter? So you've got to bring in a new CEO who can grow this platform.

BRIAN SOZZI: Or Dan, you know, off of that earnings, you know, just given the muted growth there, do you think this will reignite talk that Twitter should be part of Google or should be sold to a larger tech company?

DAN ROBERTS: You know, that was kind of a hot take a while back-- you know, could someone buy Twitter? And the thing is now, with everything going on regulatory wise, not just the antitrust lawsuit against Google, which is about search, but all of the kind of hue-and-cry in DC over big tech, I don't think you could see any of the names that we would think of making a play to buy Twitter. It's just too risky. It's too kind of obvious, too exposed.

But maybe get a big tech company that we wouldn't think of. I mean, when we saw that TikTok was going to have to sell to a US tech company, no one said, well, how about Oracle? And then, well, it was Oracle in partnership with Walmart. So maybe Twitter's a-- you know, an acquisition target for someone, but not for the names we all want to think of-- not for Google, Facebook, you know, Amazon, those kind of companies.

JULIE HYMAN: We shall see. Dan Roberts, thank you very much for that. Appreciate it.