Costolo Says Twitter’s Future Is More Curation, Relevance And Media

Onstage at Code in Southern California this morning, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo fielded questions about whether he’d be keeping his job in the face of outside criticism and angst over the rate of user growth for Twitter.

“The board and I are totally in sync,” Costolo said in response to a question about whether he’d have his job by the end of the year. “You have to focus on the long term and continue to execute on that strategy.”

He also talked about what Twitter would need to do to ensure its future on the product front.

“It’s all about migrating a company from a world of being tech-centric, follow-based, reverse-chronologic-centric to a mix of that and curated, media-centric relevance-based content,” he said.

I reported on those changes both in advance of us seeing them in the wild and as Twitter began to roll some of them out. My conclusion? We’re going to see a more algorithmic and curated Twitter alongside the ‘chronological’ Twitter that early users have come to know and (sometimes) love.

That mix may not please long-time users who are in love with a real-time chronological feed, but they’re a necessary change in order for Twitter to reach the scale and breadth of surface area it needs to monetize and to serve a larger, less tech-centric, audience.

The challenge, of course, is doing that without alienating your core “creator” users, and Costolo says that “[they] can have their cake and eat it too,” serving that crowd and a new, broader audience that serves Twitter’s ambitions to be a “global” network on a massive scale.

CEO Troubles

Costolo said that Twitter’s recent turnover in staff and new hires was to strengthen the organization in new ways.

“Anthony Noto…he’s been amazing, he’s super-high-bandwidth. He works so well with the product and Adam Bain and Katie Stanton on the media team,” said Costolo, noting that Noto did far more than just act as a CFO.

“As a CEO, you have to balance two things,” he said, talking about how he dealt with the pressure of the constant public scrutiny and criticism. “You have to balance grit and resilience with self awareness. If you just have self awareness…you’re going to be in the corner with your hands over your head. If you just have grit and resilience, you’re likely to spin the company [to death].”

“I don’t think about whether I’ll be working here on a certain date,” concluded Costolo, “I just try to do my job.”

“The interesting thing about the moment we’re in now is that people believe the strategy, they buy it. But people say ‘show me how you’re going to monetize that, show me how to model that,'” he said, presumably referring to analysts and financial forecasters, which could signal to the market that Twitter has a solid future despite the user growth numbers.

Part of that messaging, of course, is emphasizing the metrics that put Twitter in the best light, like the amount of people that see tweets who are not logged-in users. One of the company’s biggest challenges going forward will be promoting this out-of-network traffic as both valuable and profitable in a way that both serves the product and its shareholders.

When it comes to acquisition offers, Costolo started, then stopped, a statement about whether Twitter was on the block. He then gathered himself and offered the following.

“We have every intention of being a standalone company; those things you read in the press are not…are simply not true.”