Twitter needs to fix this one thing to help it grow users again: Ex-exec

Twitter's current troubles lie in its struggle to get people to sign up and make the platform work for them, the social media platform's former head of growth told CNBC.

Josh Elman, who is now a partner at venture capital firm Greylock Partners, worked at Twitter between October 2009 and July 2011. In that time, he led the company to 100 million monthly active users (MAU). Twitter now has 317 million MAUs.

But the company has struggled to grow its user base substantially. In the third quarter ended September 30, MAUs were up 3 percent year-on-year after several quarters of no growth.

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Elman said one of the problems is the fact that Twitter can't get people to understand how to use its platform.

"So many people have tried Twitter and can't make it useful for them, it's very hard to get going, it's very obtuse to find the right accounts…I think Twitter has a lot of work to do to kind of make it so that people who want to learn to use Twitter can really go through the steps to get a really exciting Twitter experience," Elman told CNBC in an interview on Monday at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon.

"I think what it really needs to grow is to fix the onramp. I think a lot of people are interested in Twitter, heard of Twitter, want to try Twitter…but that ramp to go from wanting to use it to really getting it habituated into your life is very very difficult."

Twitter has tried to get people involved with the service without owning accounts. Last year, Tweets began appearing in Google searches and the company and the company has also allowed users without accounts to watch the National Football League (NFL) games it broadcasts.

One criticism from investors has been chief executive Jack Dorsey's dual leadership role. He is both the CEO of Twitter and Square. Elman said that Dorsey's position could make it difficult for him to focus on both companies.

"Jack is a very very talented product thinker, but I think it's really hard to motivate two teams at one company let alone trying to do it at two companies at the same time especially when there's times that people just want to check in with you as a leader and you just can't be available," Elman told CNBC.