Twitter stock jumped on Wednesday, after the social messaging network posted a job opening asking for engineers to build a paid subscription service.
The team, which operates under the codename “Gryphon,” is a group of “web engineers who are closely collaborating with the Payments team and the Twitter.com team,” the listing read. “We are looking for a full-stack engineer to lead the Payment and Subscription client work, someone who values collaboration as much as we do and can act as a bridge for the engineering team.”
The subscription service would be a first for the platform, the company noted, and the work could wind up being used by other teams, though the listing didn’t specify how Twitter would use the service in the first place.
While the details were scant, they were enough to please Wall Street: At one point on Wednesday, shares surged as much as 12 percent, hitting a high of $36.89 before settling at $35.40.
As one of tech’s biggest social platforms, Twitter has been a point of much interest for years, but perhaps never as much as during the Trump administration.
Its “frenemy” status seems to be all but cemented, thanks to being the president’s communications platform of choice, even as it takes jabs from the POTUS for proactively mitigating disinformation coming from his account.
Such moves help keep the company in the spotlight, particularly since they act as a counterpoint to Facebook’s inaction on matters of hate speech and disinformation. In recent weeks, Facebook’s hedging on such issues have triggered a virtual employee walkout, rebukes from civil rights organizations — not to mention disappointment from its own civil rights auditor — and a growing advertising boycott from some of the world’s leading brands.
To be sure, Facebook’s user base dwarfs Twitter’s, with 1.73 billion daily active users compared to the latter’s 166 million DAUs. But for the latter, the numbers still reveal a rise in growth and traction. And that could make this the perfect time to expand its services.
Like most social networks, Twitter relies on advertising and analytics for revenue. That it may be looking to improve or diversify its offerings would make sense, perhaps even help it move on from a recent issue, when the company had to apologize for a data breach affecting business clients.
A lot will depend on the nature of this new subscription service. And that’s not at all clear yet.
With so few details available, speculation abounds. The guesses range from a premium analytics offering or advanced features in its Tweetdeck apps, to some sort of news service…which could put it even further into Facebook territory.