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Peter Chernin and Pivoting Are Good for Twitter

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Dalton Caldwell is the CEO of App.net, which aims to be a competitor to Twitter. It raised $500,000 over the summer, via crowd-sourcing on Kickstarter. It doesn't make money from selling ads. It is trying to be less commercially driven than Twitter and, therefore, more appealing to more users.

Two weeks ago, Caldwell wrote a blog post on his own Web site that criticized Twitter for appointing former Fox COO Peter Chernin as a director.

Caldwell's critiques of Chernin (he called them "interesting things") include:

  • Chernin sent his first tweet ever after his board appointment
  • He didn't add a "." at the beginning of his first tweet
  • Chernin called himself a "long-time users of Twitter"
  • This is all for Caldwell to conclude that Chernin is a luddite. He also used a 2006 quotation from Chernin that I believe was meant to show Chernin was a.) responsible for buying and then destroying MySpace and b.) doesn't really get Web companies.

    Caldwell then proceeds to explain that this move is the sign of a "pivot" for Twitter away from the old Twitter its initial users knew to one that is aiming to get mainstream people to use.

    The "post-pivot Twitter" is supposed to be focused on:

  • Consuming news and information instead of sending tweets
  • Being media-friendly
  • Ignoring tweets and replies from "normal users" which is to say the pre-mainstream Twitter users
  • "The Discover tab is the future"
  • Cutting off developers who used to build on top of Twitter APIs
  • I don't know Peter Chernin, but I heard him speak a year ago at a tech conference and came away very impressed. Despite being out of Fox for a few years now, he's been very active in tech investing and has had his name mentioned a couple of times for a top tech CEO job.

    In his comments at the conference, which lasted about 30 minutes in an informal Q&A, it was clear he had a strong grasp of media, tech, as well as the growing influence of Asia on both types of companies.

    If I worked at Twitter or was an investor, I'd be very excited about Chernin joining the board. So what if he hasn't tweeted before? Would he be a better director if he'd sent 80,000 tweets already? I don't know. All I know is that, if I was Dick Costolo, I would have jumped at the chance to get him on my board.

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