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Former Yahoo Interim CEO explains how Twitter can avoid his old company's fate

Ross Levinsohn
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Ross Levinsohn

If Twitter wants to avoid the fate of Yahoo it will have to stop trying to be a social media company, Former Interim CEO of Yahoo Ross Levinsohn told CNBC on Wednesday.

"They've got to embrace this company as a media company," he said. "I want to believe that if Yahoo had fully embraced media, it [could have] had a real place over the last four years in that space," said Levinsohn.

A big part of Twitter's problem is the that the company's leadership is not focusing on its strengths — which is delivering real-time information and breaking news, Levinsohn said.

"It is a delivery mechanism and a distribution mechanism," he said.

Twitter beat Wall Street's expectations on Wednesday by posting better than expected earnings. But Levinsohn says while the company did a good job of shaping its narrative it isn't out of the woods yet. "The best thing they did here was manage expectations. [Twitter] set expectations exceedingly low," he said.

Twitter did disappoint when it comes to user growth, which compared to its competitors like Instagram and Snapchat is low. Still, Levinsohn sees value in the company especially if it shifts its strategy and focuses on things like scaling video content on the platform. "There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who use it, and embrace it," he said.

If Twitter can't pull this off, Levinsohn said there are plenty of companies that would want to buy it. "I could list four our five. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Comcast and Verizon," he said.

The Twitter scenario is familiar to Levinsohn, and he recalled Yahoo was in a very similar place a few years ago. "This is like 2012 for me," he said.