Exclusive: Twitter's Director Of Search Is Out As Product Is Restructured

In July of last year, Twitter Search usage was exploding. As such, Twitter hired a new high-profile engineer, Doug Cook, to take over as the new “Director of Search.” Cook has now left the company, we’ve learned.

When reached for comment, Twitter confirmed the departure, but would not give a reason for the split. We had also heard that the reason Cook is out is that the search team is being split into at least two different groups now. Twitter’s comment on the matter seems to confirm that:

We are investing even more on search and have created new teams to focus our efforts on inference, discovery and real-time search infrastructure.

Twitter would not say if there will be a new Director of Search, but we hear the role may simply not exist anymore with this new multi-team approach.

Search is one of the most important aspects of Twitter these days. It’s not only useful, it’s tied directly into Twitter’s first big plan to make money: Sponsored Tweets. It also is the key to hashtag relevance and a number of other things Twitter is working on — undoubtedly things like analytics.

Search on Twitter began when Twitter bought Summize in the Summer of 2008. That service morphed into Twitter Search, a service that resided at search.twitter.com. By March of 2009, the product was so useful that we wrote it was time to start thinking of Twitter as a search engine. By April of that year, they rolled search into the main Twitter product, and it has been a core feature since.

This is one of the first fairly major shakeups at Twitter (aside from when Ev Williams took the CEO title from creator Jack Dorsey in 2008). This news follows the promotion of Greg Pass (a co-founder of Summize) to be Twitter’s first CTO, as we broke in April. That move was made to make room for Michael Abbott, Palm’s former head of software and services, to take over as VP of Engineering.

Cook came to Twitter from Yahoo, where was a VP of engineering. He took over the search responsibilities from Twitter Chief Scientist Abdur Chowdhury, another Summize co-founder. Cook also runs the wine search engine Able Grape. His LinkedIn profile lists this as his only current job. Recent tweets suggest his next move may be vacationing.