Twitter Wants to Reinvent Itself, by Merging the Old With the New

But while Twitter has given developers like Ms. Chou the data they need to build custom experiences, the company has also yanked it away. It has locked down the kinds of data that developers use several times, most recently in 2018, when it limited access to its application programming interface, or A.P.I., effectively breaking a number of smaller companies’ apps.

Anil Dash, who helped found ThinkUp, a company that relied on data from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, recalled telling Twitter executives that they had effectively killed his company by cutting off data access.

“Developers do not trust them,” Mr. Dash said. “You are Lucy with the football and we are Charlie Brown, and you have pulled the football away 100 times.”

Mr. Dash, who is now the chief executive of Glitch, said Twitter’s decentralization strategy hinged on its ability to woo developers back. “It’s not insurmountable, but it’s the fundamental condition of this entire strategy succeeding: Convince the most skeptical audience to trust them again.”

Amir Shevat, Twitter’s head of product for developers, got the job by offering similar criticism to Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Agrawal. At the time, he was a top executive at Reshuffle, a developer platform. But after discussions about developer access, the Twitter executives agreed to acquire Reshuffle last March.

“Talking to Jack and Parag, they recognized that Twitter before was a lot more open,” Mr. Shevat said in an interview. He added, “I think what you’re seeing is a move back into that.”

“If you decentralize your platform and you give developers more powers to make richer experiences and better, safer timelines, then everybody benefits from this,” he also said.

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