The top executives of Twitter will take questions from investors this afternoon at its annual investor day in San Francisco.
But well-known Twitter shareholder Chris Sacca didn’t want to wait to throw out his advice to fix the San Francisco social communications company.
Sacca, who noted in the 8,500-word post titled “What Twitter Can Be” that he owned “a lot of Twitter stock,” offered up a myriad of suggestions and criticisms aimed at the struggling company in a very long blog post. The well-known investor had said last week he was going to do so in a previous post titled “I Bleed Aqua,” after Twitter’s famous color scheme.
Sacca highlighted both good things (product launches are coming faster than before, revenue is strong and its recent acquisitions like Periscope are winners) and bad (growth has stalled, inability to hold onto new users and an utter fail with Wall Street and the media). But he noted most strongly that Twitter has done a poor job of setting expectations outside the company.
“Despite that, my biggest concern is the abundance of public doubt and misunderstanding when it comes to Twitter’s vision and the near future for the service,” wrote Sacca. “It’s hard to blame Wall Street or the press. Twitter has failed to tell its own story.”
And also: “Twitter does have boldness in its bones. But Twitter needs to be bolder still. It needs to place more bets with potentially oversized payoffs. It needs to question aspects of Twitter it has taken for granted. It needs to operate with smaller teams that require less permission to make change happen. Twitter can afford to build the wrong things. However, Twitter cannot afford to build the right things too slowly.”
In the post, Sacca also took a swipe at the the media for referring to him as an activist investor and, really, a troublemaker for CEO Dick Costolo and his management team.
“First, I want to apologize to those of you working in the sensationalist clickbait mines, but this post is not a hit piece,” he wrote. “I never said it would be. I am not here to slam the company nor the team. I am not an activist investor.”
Still, he sounded like one throughout the post. In one section, he pilloried Twitter’s public communications:
The transition to being public has been rough. The company has disappointed Wall Street more often than not. Twitter’s earnings calls are mostly dedicated to playing defense while discussing incremental improvements to sign-up flows and tweaks to the service. Plus, new product launches are soft and rarely get the attention from investors or users that Twitter’s peers drum up. If the company has a bold vision for the future, it doesn’t come across in their communication with us on the outside, and that may very well be a function of pre-IPO legacy.
It’s not a stretch to say that Twitter’s going through a rough stretch at the moment, following a disastrous earnings report in April that has put Costolo at odds with investors for months. In fact, Costolo talked about his job security, or insecurity, at the Code Conference last week, ahead of today’s investor event.
So, Sacca’s timing certainly isn’t coincidental. Still, he tried to remain balanced, noting what was good and bad.
On the negative side, he outlined three things that were an issue for the core product: Twitter was hard to use, tweeting was scary and the service was lonely.
Among Sacca’s suggestions: Smaller teams, riskier bets and even building wrong things. He added that the service hews too much to the timeline format, which Sacca called “spontaneous, but scattered and of inconsistent relevance.”
He has a good point: “This is where so many new users get hung up. Hardcore Twitterers have the savvy and patience to continuously tune the array of accounts they follow. They even train the nuances of their visual attention to notice only what they care about when scrolling rapidly. However, new users usually get lost in the rough before they have a chance to find any diamonds.”
He also liked a number of new features like Instant Timelines, thought Twitter should kill it in live offerings, including adding human editors, suggested more location information featured and wanted more channel organization.
“While there is some value in the serendipity of discovering the unexpected, the energy expended to parse a busy stream is overwhelming for too many,” he wrote. “When it comes to media, people like programming. We like focus. We like doing the same thing at the same time and being told where to go next.”
Did I leave out the rollout of more specifics apps for Twitter (news, sports, whatever) and also a save button, although Sacca hurt his case by offering acquisition of his own portfolio startups as solutions.
Not everyone’s on board with his strategy of helping via blogging. Fred Wilson, founder of another Twitter investor, Union Square Ventures, shared two blog posts over the weekend, the first one mocking Sacca’s plan to offer up advice in what he called a “thinly veiled reference to another vocal/public Twitter investor.”
Wilson then posted a second blog defending the job of public company CEOs. “It is easy to sit there and say ‘she didn’t do this, he should have done that,'” he wrote. “But I try to remind myself that running a company is a hard job and the people who do it well are few and far between.”
Sacca didn’t appreciate the jab, and shared a not-so-thinly-veiled response on Twitter.
While Sacca’s intentions might be good ones, with the company stock struggling, its CEO under immense pressure and now Twitter investors publicly bickering on its service, this post may not be appreciated inside the company. Twitter is no stranger to chaos and criticism, but all of this adds up to a lot of outside distractions for a company that could probably do without them.
After he posted, though, Sacca continued to stir that pot. On an appearance on CNBC, the not-an-activist investor said that if Twitter did not want to implement his suggestions that it should perhaps get acquired by Google, Microsoft or Facebook.
“I think [an acquisition] is a fantastic use of Google’s cash,” said Sacca.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.