Does Twitter need Google or does Google need Twitter? It’s a question complicated by recent events, such as the two companies not coming to an agreement to extend their previous partnership through which Google showed Tweets in search results. That deal wasn’t renewed,and then Google decided to promote its own Google+ results in search, which didn’t go over well with Twitter at all.
Asked about this at by Peter Kafka at the D: Dive Into Media conference this evening, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo responded: “All of us look to Google as the shining light on the hill, a mission-driven company. We think when people are searching for things like a hashtag on a billboard, people will go to Google to look for them and we think Google should return the results they are looking for.”
Costolo was visibly fuming. (Or maybe that was just his regular intense demeanor). But then asked whether Twitter can be successful without Google and all that lost search traffic, Costolo insisted: “We’re growing faster than we have ever grown before, irrespective of whatever Google or Facebook is doing. All of these services can co-exist.”
Later on during the conversation, Costolo reported that Twitter’s advertising business is growing and engagement rates on promoted Tweets, trends, and profiles is high. “We’ve figured out the business,” he says. “The advertising model is working, we just have to scale it.”
Costolo wouldn’t discuss whether or not the company could turn a profit this year or other financials. He did mention a few stats, however. The company now has “about 900 people,” some advertisers such as Volkswagen and Barclays are seeing better than 50 percent engagement rates on Twitter ads, and “40% of our active users don’t tweet” (meaning that they just consume other people’s tweets and don’t tweet themselves).
In terms of politics, he predicted: “2012 is going to be the Twitter election.” Campaigns will be forced to respond in realtime. “Candidates who don’t participate on Twitter while the debates are going on will be left behind because the next morning is too late to respond.”
Asked to comment about his role in board changes last year in which VCs and board observers lost their seats, he says: “People like to ascribe this palace intrigue to tactical changes in the organization. It is just not that compelling. It just so happens we had new people coming in . . . we were able to create a leaner board with more independent directors. It is nice to say that I did some kind of crazy ninja move. The reality is much more boring than that.”