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Twitter’s next year will be about making site easier, adding functionality

twitter-svp-kevin-weil.jpgEnlarge Image
Kevin Weil, Twitter’s head of product (right), talks about the company with Kara Swisher at Code Mobile.
Shara Tibken/CNET

HALF MOON BAY, California — Twitter’s task over the next year is making its product simpler to attract new users and adding functionality to keep current users happy, the company’s head of product said Wednesday.

Kevin Weil, Twitter’s senior vice president of product, made the comments during the Code Mobile conference in Half Moon Bay. But he declined to give any details on reports Twitter may allow people to write more than 140 characters in a tweet.

“Great product teams should always be challenging their own assumptions,” Weil said.

Weil also declined to say when — or if — Twitter would allow users to edit tweets after they’ve been posted. He said it’s more complicated than just changing the technology. For instance, if people edit tweets to change the meaning, it could have repercussions for media outlets that based a story on the tweet or embedded it in a story.

“Suddenly if they change the meaning and you put it on Recode, you’re representing an entirely different thing than you thought you were,” he said.

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Weil has been in his position as head of product for a year after being the fifth person in the job in five years. His task is to help attract more users and money through Twitter’s various products. In this time, Weil has overseen a new Twitter home page designed for those who not logged in. The social network’s 316 million users can now send a direct message to multiple people at the same time and have their direct messages to go beyond Twitter’s signature 140-character limit. The company is reportedly looking to remove the 140-character limit altogether.

But Weil and Twitter are betting big with Tuesday’s release of the highly-anticipated
The feature previously known as “Project Lightning,” offers curated collections of videos, photos and tweets in real-time. It could be the most important product update in the company’s nine-year history. Moments is designed to attract a wider audience who are put off by Twitter’s endless barrage of tweets and baffling symbols that direct them through the platform.

Weil’s position is vital because as product chief he’s already seen one CEO resign, several top execs leave and the return of Jack Dorsey as CEO of Twitter. Weil has risen through the ranks after joining the social network as a data scientist in 2009.

Weil on Wednesday stressed how happy he is to have Dorsey return to Twitter as CEO.

“We’re super excited to have Jack back,” he said. “There’s something special Jack brings.”

He added that Dorsey never treated the CEO role as temporary, even before he officially had the role. “There’s no way in which he acted like an interim CEO.”

Weil also said Twitter “absolutely” plans to remain an independent company. “Our goal is to stay independent,” he said. “Twitter is a force in the world.”

–Terry Collins contributed to this report.

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