Twitter Is Flying High After Hiring Google Maps Exec

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Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) stock on Tuesday rose the most since the social media company’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange in November after it was confirmed that the company had hired former Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Maps director Daniel Graf. The stock closed trading on Tuesday up more than 11 percent, at $45.52.

Graf fittingly confirmed his hire in a tweet, saying, “Followed Maps to find that the flock was just around the corner – excited to take wing with the @twitter product team.” Graf is now the new vice president of consumer product for the microblogging site.

Given the success of Google Maps, industry watchers and investors have high hopes for Graf’s involvement. According to a profile on Graf from Re/code, he led the Google Maps team from 2012 onward and was responsible for bringing Google Maps to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone despite the fact that Apple has a competing maps app, essentially saving all iPhone users from getting hopelessly lost while trying to use Apple Maps.

Twitter’s former vice president of consumer product, Michael Sippey, left the company at the beginning of the year. People familiar with the matter who spoke to Re/code said that Twitter has been struggling with consumer product strategy and has had a difficult time making changes to its Web and mobile offerings.

In addition to hiring Graf, Twitter also announced Tuesday that it acquired Gnip as its first data partner. Gnip will help analyze the staggering amount of data that Twitter has, dating back to the site’s inception in 2006. Twitter averages about 500 million tweets per day coming from all over the world. That’s a lot of data to try and get a grip on for better monetization.

Of course, all that data can be used for more than just creating better-targeted ads. The data stream that Twitter and other social media sites provide is becoming an increasingly important resource for analysts and researchers in both business and academia, as well as reporters looking to to identify key information about a breaking news story.

In a statement announcing the acquisition, Twitter’s vice president of Global Business Development and Platform, Jana Messerschmidt, said, “Public Tweets can reveal a wide variety of insights — so much so that academic institutions, journalists, marketers, brands, politicians, and developers regularly use aggregated Twitter data to spot trends, analyze sentiment, find breaking news, connect with customers and more.”

Just last week, Twitter also unveiled a big redesign of the site that’s meant to make it more appealing to first-time users, who are often confused by the service’s system of hashtags and @-replies. Twitter devotees, however, may not appreciate the changes, as the more photo-centric setup looks very similar to that other social media site, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Changes include the addition of a cover photo and the ability to “pin” favorite tweets to the top of your profile; the top favorited or retweeted tweets will be more prominently featured, overall upsetting the former reverse chronological order of the site.

Twitter is hoping that these changes make it easier for users to transition to using Twitter from other social media sites (mostly Facebook) without alienating devoted Twitter fans.Tthe involvement of someone of Graf’s caliber will likely aid in making better changes to Twitter’s consumer product in the future.

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