After acquiring a sizeable stake in Twitter Inc., American investment firm Elliott Management Corp is now reportedly pushing for changes in the hierarchy at Twitter, including replacing Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey. This was disclosed by two people privy to the matter, to Reuters.
The New York-based firm, founded by billionaire Paul Singer, has nominated four directors to the 8-member strong Twitter’s board, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. Although there are only three seats becoming available at this year’s annual meeting, Elliott wanted to ensure that it nominated enough directors to fill all three seats or any other vacancies that may arise, the people said.
Twitter declined to comment on the matter.
The push comes at a vital time, considering the global scenario. Major events such as the US Presidential elections, Olympics are coming up. Then there is the Coronavirus outbreak. These events and timing of Eliott’s move hold significance since the former tend to draw more users to the platform, thus resulting in more advertisements and more revenue. Dorsey’s views on misinformation and political ads have been stern so far, with announcements such as a blanket ban on political advertising, winning popular appeal. These however, will have significant ramifications on company’s financials.
Twitter is one of the few tech companies that don’t have a monopolistic CEO, meaning the person who heads the company isn’t usually the majority shareholder, as is the case with most companies. The corporation gives equal voting rights to its shareholders, making Dorsey, who owns only 2% of the shares susceptible to mutinies and challenges from investors.
The San-Francisco based company has fallen behind many of its rivals on the business front, sticking to its core features. Other competitors like Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram have been regularly putting in new (albeit unnecessary) features. Twitter’s shares have tumbled by about 6% since Jack Dorsey took over in 2015. Facebook’s, at the same time, grew by almost 120%.
Twitter had last year also reported a failure to target ads and provide data to partners, which it said was caused by “bugs”. It also said at the time that its privacy issues involving targeting data would continue to weigh on its advertising business. This led to the stock declining more than 20 percent on October 24 after the company delivered third-quarter results that fell far short of analyst estimates.
Elliott isn’t the only investor to voice concerns about Dorsey and Twitter’s governance.
While the business front has been in talks for a while, Dorsey’s management has also found plenty of scrutiny, with people often blaming him for poor management and not focusing enough on Twitter’s profitability. These include Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter.
Elliott is known for canvassing changes at some of the world’s largest companies. This month, the firm disclosed a stake in Japan’s SoftBank Corp and said it planned to push for a larger share buyback and governance changes at the firm’s Vision Fund.
Elliott has also pushed for changes at other major corporations like AT&T Inc, EBay Inc, Marathon Petroleum Corp, and Pernod Ricard SA.