Twitter executive exodus put pressure on Dorsey

Chris Sacca: Twitter is 'a series of missed opportunities'
Chris Sacca: Twitter is 'a series of missed opportunities'

Twitter is ending 2016 the same way it began the year: with executives flying the coop.

The ailing social media company lost two more executives on Tuesday, including longtime CTO Adam Messinger. The news comes barely a month after Twitter's COO Adam Bain stepped down.

The latest executive departures pushed Twitter's stock down nearly 5% in midday trading Wednesday as investors weighed the impact on employee retention, product execution and the strain it places on Twitter's part-time CEO Jack Dorsey.

For more than a year, Dorsey has relied on a mix of meditation, exercise, morning coffee and afternoon tea to get through his 18-hour workdays overseeing Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) and Square (SQ).

However, Dorsey's not-so-secret weapon for running two publicly traded technology companies has been the strong bench of executives working under him at both operations.

"My ability to manage both Twitter and Square is made possible by the great teams of both companies," Dorsey said on a conference call last October when Twitter named him permanent CEO.

Square's leadership hasn't changed much since then, but Twitter's executive bench now looks depleted.

Twitter has lost six of the 10 execs who were part of its leadership team at the beginning of the year, including the heads of product, engineering, human resources and media. It has added just one new exec, a chief marketing officer, to that team in 2016.

Related: Twitter accidentally suspends its own CEO's account

"Dorsey needs to spend more time there with fewer experienced people around him," says Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. "Splitting his responsibilities is not the right answer over the long run."

Instead, Twitter is planning to have more product teams report directly to Dorsey even as he continues to divide his time with Square.

"I'll be working even closer with our engineering and design teams to ensure we continue to be the fastest and best service to show what's happening in the world," Dorsey said in a statement provided to CNNMoney.

The executive departures come at a difficult period for the company.

Twitter failed to find a buyer in October. It has since laid off hundreds of employees and scrapped its Vine app in a desperate push for profitability. And Twitter's user growth remains anemic.

It's possible Twitter's progress with live video and Donald Trump's love for the platform may give Dorsey and his dwindling leadership team "some breathing room," says James Cakmak, an analyst with Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co.

"But it's a temporary window," he says.

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