Dom Hofmann, co-founder of the social video-sharing service Vine, has stepped down from his lead general manager role at the company, according to three sources close to the situation.
Hofmann, who has led the company since its inception in early 2012, will take a far smaller role in developing the product, and will no longer be working on Vine on a day-to-day basis, these sources said. Instead, Hofmann has been working on another yet-to-be-revealed startup, the details of which are unclear at this point.
Vine co-founder and former chief technical officer Colin Kroll will take over Hofmann’s daily duties leading the New York-based Vine’s staff of approximately 14 employees. Sources also said that Vine is close to hiring a Manhattan-based product leader to work on the team, though that role hasn’t been filled quite yet.
(Update 12:30 p.m. PT: And according to four sources, the role has indeed just recently been filled. Jason Toff, a product manager at YouTube, has accepted the new product manager position at Vine, though I’ve been told this shouldn’t be considered a replacement for Hofmann’s previous role. Both Toff and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.)
Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner declined to comment on the matter.
Hofmann’s decision to step down also comes as executives at the very top ranks of Twitter have floated the idea of extending the length of Vine videos themselves — though there is no indication that the two are related. It is unclear how much traction the idea has inside the company. However, I’m told the Vine team itself has always been flexible about how the product would evolve.
Hofmann’s transition, which actually began in November, is a surprising one for the small video startup, occurring almost exactly one year after the company was acquired by Twitter in October of 2012. I’m not sure whether this diminished role will leave any money on the table for Hofmann under the terms of his company’s acquisition last year, but the three sources said the move was indeed of his own choosing.
The move raises questions about Twitter’s ability to retain key employees in the future, coming just months after the company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter has also grown tremendously in headcount, swelling to more than 2,000 employees from just a few hundred in little more than a year and change — a phenomenon, sources said, that has had a definite impact on early employees’ decisions about staying at the company.
Hofmann’s move also comes in the heat of the battle for video supremacy between Vine and Instagram; the latter launched video last summer in a direct response to Twitter’s Vine. Vine has seen some slowing of its growth since Instagram video’s debut; as of August, Vine said it had reached 40 million registered users, while Instagram’s latest released figures put the service at 150 million monthly active users. (Note the distinction between registered and active users, here. It’s important, and makes direct comparison difficult.)
But sources said that the Vine team is contemplating different ways of viewing the six-second videos in the future. The most immediate fruits of this are evident in the company’s last update, when the team launched TV viewing mode for the Web.
While Hofmann hasn’t disclosed any information about his next project, I’d follow his personal blog, here, to see what he has in store.