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The Important Context Missing From Chris Sacca's Twitter Commerce Critique

Sacca and Twitter commerce head Nathan Hubbard are buds. What does it mean?

John Murrell/Recode
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Longtime Twitter investor Chris Sacca published an opus yesterday spelling out, as promised, what he thinks Twitter is doing well and what he thinks the company needs to do to improve. While my colleague Kurt Wagner read all 8,500 words and wrote two posts about it that you should read, I was mostly interested in Sacca’s take on Twitter’s fledgling e-commerce business.

Why? a) I cover e-commerce, and b) I know Sacca is buddies with Twitter Commerce head Nathan Hubbard, Ticketmaster’s former CEO, so I was curious whether, and how, he’d critique a business his friend runs.

The first thing that stood out to me was that Sacca’s post didn’t mention Hubbard by name, nor did it mention that the two are close friends and that Sacca helped recruit Hubbard to Twitter. But he did pat his friend on the back in a big way.

“Building the right conditions to bring commerce forward and more deeply integrated into Twitter should be a priority,” Sacca wrote. “Twitter has the former CEO of Ticketmaster heading up commerce. Very few people in the world know how to sell things online better than he can. It’s time to take advantage, and here is one idea how.”

More interesting to me than Sacca’s idea, which we’ll get to below*, is how a reader might interpret the above paragraph when knowing the two are close friends, which is important context.

With that in mind, you can make an argument that Sacca is calling on Twitter management to give his buddy the room to make a big impact before it’s too late. No one is going so far as to say that Hubbard is going to leave Twitter, but he’s been there since August 2013 and Twitter’s “Buy” buttons and other commerce tests still seem to be stuck in some type of testing phase.

I asked Sacca about my interpretation, and in an email response, he would only say, “What Twitter has accomplished in commerce so far, including physical and digital goods as well as event ticket sales, proves they’ve got the right team in place and that the business will work. I can’t wait to see what happens when they ramp it all up.”

A Twitter spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

* Sacca’s commerce idea consists of Twitter creating a separate section of the app where people can store and purchase items they discovered in their Twitter feed and where businesses can offer deals to Twitter users. He recommends, naturally, that Twitter acquire a startup, Rex, in which — surprise! — he’s an investor.

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