As you may have heard by now, Twitter has a new CEO. Former COO Dick Costolo is taking over from Evan Williams as the head of the company. A few minutes ago, I got a chance to speak to both of them about the change.
“New Twitter was definitely a trigger for this,” Williams told me. “Conveniently, I took over the CEO role just about two years ago — and brought Dick in just about a year ago. I’ve always thought of myself as more of a product guy, and New Twitter seems to work out well,” he continued. “New Twitter was a moment of clarity for all of us here,” Costolo added. “[With this change] Ev can once again focus on product.”
Costolo said that the company has no plans to put someone in the COO postion to replace him. “We have the management team we need,” he said. Williams, meanwhile, will move to focus on product. When I asked what this meant for current VP of Product Jason Goldman, Williams made it very clear that he will retain that position and the two will work alongside one another. “We’ve been working together for 8 years and have a very symbiotic relationship,” Williams noted. “I’m all about vision, he’s all about execution,” he continued.
More specifically, both Goldman and VP of Engineering Michael Abbott will now be reporting to Costolo to make sure all of Twitter’s execution is in order going forward.
“We’re entering what feels like a new phase,” Williams said. “The company is now at 300 people and revenue is coming in,” he continued. When I asked how much the drive to make money plays into this switch, Costolo sidestepped it a bit. “In the broader context, we’ve accomplished all this stuff. We were at 1 million tweets per day when Ev took over, now we’re at 90 million tweets per day. We’ve got this revenue engine now,” he said. He again reiterated that this move was more about letting Williams focus on product strategy.
Normally, when a company has three different CEOs in three years, it’s a very bad sign. But in Twitter’s case, this does seem to be more about a rapidly-growing company making sure they have the pieces in place for a continued explosion of growth. And yes, a big piece of that is the need to make money. The other piece is continuing to make great products — something Williams is clearly good at.
Both Williams and Costolo were previously on Twitter’s Board, and nothing is changing there, I’m told.