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Image credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg via Getty

Twitter's Flight developer conference was scrapped this year

In fairness, the company has bigger issues to tackle right now.
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David Paul Morris / Bloomberg via Getty

For the past two years, Twitter has put on a big show called Flight to dazzle mobile app makers with new tools and highlight new shifts in strategy. This year, though, Flight is grounded. Twitter confirmed in a statement to Recode that instead of the usual big fete, the company plans to host smaller, more intimate events around the country -- all the better to improve the Twitter's dicey ties with developers.

"Somewhere along the line our relationship with developers got confusing, unpredictable," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said at last year's Flight conference. "We want to come to you today and apologize for the confusion. We want to reset our relationship and make sure that we're learning, listening, and that we are rebooting." Dorsey's words seemed earnest at the time, but it's hard not to look at Flight's cancellation as a sign of Twitter's continuing struggle to figure out how best to work with its developer community.

Curiously, Recode also points to unnamed sources who said that a Flight conference was actually in the works for a while before the plug was unceremoniously pulled. It's not clear how far along plans for another Flight conference were, but it shouldn't surprise anyone that Twitter ultimately didn't want to devote time and energy to a big show. After all, power players like Alphabet, Salesforce and the Walt Disney Company were exploring the possibility of buying Twitter, at least before their enthusiasm died down (dinging Twitter's stock price in the process).

Make no mistake: giving developers the tools they need to turn this "people's news network" into something truly indispensable is hugely important for Twitter's future. Dorsey also admitted in a company-wide memo that his goal is to turn Twitter into "the first place people check to see what's happening," a vision that is only helped by developers splashing that firehose of information all over the place. Still, as schizophrenic as Twitter's stance with its developers might seem, you can't really blame Jack and his crew for focusing on more short-term priorities.

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