In a surprise development, social network Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo is to step down. The company moved quickly to reaffirm to Wall Street that targets for Q2 revenues will be in the US$470m to US$485m range.
Twitter’s history has been pockmarked by musical chairs at the top and, while Costolo presided over a period of rapid expansion for the company, he faced intense criticism from media and investors, particularly in response to the company’s mixed Q1 results.
In the face of a barrage of criticism he nevertheless exuded an air of calm professionalism while he increased the social network’s advertising revenue and workforce headcount. In fact, Costolo presided over what is perhaps the most consistent leadership period Twitter has ever had in its relatively short history.
Costolo will continue to serve on Twitter’s board.
A search committee led by Twitter board member Peter Currie and which includes Evan Williams and Peter Fenton will focus on finding a CEO to replace Costolo full-time.
Criticism takes a personal toll
It is understood that the decision to step down was Costolo’s own choice, with the constant criticism of his work and achievements taking a personal toll.
“I am tremendously proud of the Twitter team and all that the team has accomplished together during my six years with the company,” Costolo said.
“We have great leaders who work well together and a clear strategy that informs our objectives and priorities. There is no one better than Jack Dorsey to lead Twitter during this transition. He has a profound understanding of the product and Twitter’s mission in the world, as well as a great relationship with Twitter’s leadership team. I am deeply appreciative of the confidence the board, the management team and the employees have placed in me over the years, and I look forward to supporting Twitter however I can going forward.”
Co-founder and CEO of e-payments firm Square Jack Dorsey is to step in as interim CEO and will continue to simultaneously lead Square.
“The future belongs to Twitter thanks in large part to Dick Costolo’s dedication and vision. Dick has put a world-class team in place and created a great foundation from which Twitter can continue to change the world and grow. We have an exciting line-up of products and initiatives coming to market, and I look forward to continuing to execute our strategy while helping facilitate a smooth transition as the Board conducts its search.
“I am grateful for the talented team at Square, which I will continue to lead. We have built a very strong company.”
Where Twitter goes now is anyone’s guess, with intense competition from a new generation of social mobile networks like Snapchat on the rise.
The lynchpin of any successful strategy to ensure it stays on the right path will no doubt be increased advertising revenue and evidence that user growth is on the right trajectory.