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Why Does Twitter Have 140 Employees?

I feel special, I recently got a mass email from twitter co-founder Biz Stone. The email was clearly sent out to everyone who has ever signed up for twitter’s mailing list, but one thing in particular stood out to me. Why in the world does twitter have 140 employees?

Do they need all of these people, or are they really just trying to be cute? My guess is they’re trying to be cute. “Recently, we hired our 140th employee! His name is Aaron and he’s an engineer focused on building internal tools to help promote productivity, communication, and support within our company. We celebrated with a little dance party,” Stone explains in the email. Let me get this straight… Twitter hired their 140th employee, right before they sent this email, and his job is to create applications within the company so that other employees can communicate better? And this guy is a salaried employee? Health benefits, 401k, and everything? And twitter has $160 Million in VC funding? Does anyone see the problem here?

This is what’s wrong with the modern technology industry and the cycle that Silicon Valley perpetuates. In turn, companies end up judging their value by the number of employees they have, instead of their profits.

Stone goes on to say, “While there may only be 140 full-time employees working at the Twitter offices, there are thousands of dedicated platform developers who have now created more than 70,000 registered Twitter applications creating variety and utility for all of us.” – Only 140 employees? That means twitter wants more. There’s probably someone at twitter who creates a new job title every time something needs to be done. “Hey, this UI needs to be cleaned up! Create a position! Hire someone!” – I can’t see this being good for overhead. If the company wasn’t all over the media, would its investors be allowing for the burn rate to be sequentially increasing? I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong… I think twitter is a great service, I just wish they wouldn’t paint themselves as this Silicon Valley poster child that doesn’t care about making money. I get it, the product matters. I’m a product guy, I agree. However, hiring willy nilly is just something I can’t get behind.

Think Brilliant is three years old. If the internal communication between our team members was so bad, that we had to hire someone to build applications for us to communicate through, I’d strongly re-evaluate what was going on with my own team. The last thing I would ever do to enhance communication, would be hiring someone new. Maybe the twitter guys know something I don’t. Maybe they have a magic 8-ball that tells them what to do. To me, spotlighting that you have 140 employees in an email blast like this shows what’s really important, (I wonder which twitter investor keeps demanding growth like this). It sounds like some prioritizing needs to happen.

From a fundamental business standpoint, constantly hiring people to solve problems, does nothing more than create more problems.

I’d like to see twitter start carrying itself as a company that cares about the rest of the industry and the space it’s in. Rather than being praised for raising $30 Million, they should be praised for keeping costs low. To the new employee, Aaron, I’m sure you’re a wonderful engineer, and I mean no offense… But I’d wager your job would be one of the first to go if the VC money ever dried up.