Twitter Hires Youth App Expert Michael Sayman as Part of New Experimental Development Team
As part of its broader effort to connect with younger audiences, and boost its user count, Twitter has hired youth app expert Michael Sayman to be part of a new team designed to ‘accelerate new ideas and concepts’ that will appeal to broader use cases.
I’m super excited to share that I’ve joined Twitter’s 0 → 1 team to help accelerate new ideas. I’ll be partnering with teams across Twitter to investigate, explore, and build new ways to serve the future of the public conversation. ????
– Michael Sayman (@michaelsayman) March 8, 2022
Sayman rose to fame as a teen, after creating several apps that gained traction, which then lead to Sayman joining Meta as its’teen-in-residence ‘when he was 18. Sayman played a role in developing Instagram Stories, before eventually moving on to Google to work on gaming projects, while more recently, Sayman has been working at Roblox.
That breadth of experience will provide a big boost for Twitter’s efforts, and with the app looking to add 100 million more users over the next two years, it will need to try new things, and push the boundaries in order to generate interest among a range of different audience groups.
So what’s Twitter’s ‘0 → 1 team’? There’s not a heap to go on at this stage, but according to Twitterthe 0 → 1 team will “help bring the“ what if’s ”of Twitter‘ future to life ”.
Its sounds much like Meta’s NPE team, though less focused on new apps, and more aligned with in-app developments and additions, which could see new features and tools added to Twitter to expand upon its key use case.
Which, in Sayman’s case, will see it focus on boosting its youth appeal, and it’s interesting to note Sayman’s view on how Twitter is currently used by younger audiences, and how it hasn’t been as impacted by the rise of visual focused apps like Instagram and TikTok.
As Sayman told The Washington Post:
“The value I’ve seen in Twitter is that there are a lot of young people who use it that feel liberated by the lack of pressure to be super perfect, or have the perfect appearance.”
Does that mean that the 0 → 1 team will be focused on text-based features, instead of new experiments with things like Fleets and other full-screen visual tools?
That’s been Twitter’s youth approach thus far, adding in more visual, full-screen tools, in alignment with TikTok’s UI, in order to tap into those usage trends.
Fleets, of course, was retired after less than a year, because no one really seemed to care about it (though like Vine before it, people on Twitter still lament its demise), while Twitter has also experimented with a full-screen display for Explore as it looks to tap into evolving usage trends.
Going on Sayman’s comments, that doesn’t seem to be where he’s focused – so can Twitter make its app more engaging for youth without leaning into TikTok-led trends?
Of course, we have no real idea how the addition of Sayman could impact this. Sayman’s most popular app, which he created as a youth, was ‘4 Snaps’, which was essentially a word guessing game based on visual cues.
But 4 Snaps came out almost a decade ago, and Sayman has had stops at three major tech companies since then. You would imagine that his approach has changed significantly in that time, and it’ll be interesting to see how his career learnings will influence his work on Twitter, and what the company produces and tests as a result.
Either way, it’s an interesting hire, which puts more focus on the platform’s efforts to win over more users, in new ways.